The Flesh Merchant (1956)

  “The guys are here to have a ball–not a ball and chain.”

Naive young country girl, Nancy (Joy Reynolds), unexpectedly arrives in Los Angeles to move in with her sister, “fashion model” Paula (Lisa Rack). Nancy thinks that Paula has hit the big time, but Paula’s too ashamed to tell Nancy the awful truth. Paula is working as a prostitute in a string of clubs owned by the sinister “Flesh Merchant” Sogel (Guy Manford). Paula tries to shove Nancy on the first bus back to the country, but bratty Nancy just thinks Paula is afraid of the “competition.” Finding an address of a modeling agency in Paula’s apartment, Nancy heads out to start her career. Within minutes, she’s posing nude for a room full of drooling men, and a few hours later, she’s whisked off to the mysterious “Colony” an exclusive retreat for rich men who want a weekend away from their wives.

fleshNancy puts up a pitiful resistance to the lure of the Flesh trade. After a slap or two and a stern admonition to “cooperate”, Nancy is putty. In spite of dire warnings from fellow Colony girl, oldie-but-goodie, EZ, Nancy is too thrilled with the promise of a mink coat to do anything except slip on her negligee and start “cooperating.”

The Flesh Merchant (also known as: The Wild and Wicked) is a well-paced, well-structured sexploitation film that leaves a lot to be desired, but it’s not completely awful either. There are a few good lines–largely from the men who run the girls at the Colony. One man for example, is told to take care of Nancy as she’s “valuable” He mutters, “when they’re valuable, they’re never very experienced.” There are scenes of guests romping in the pool, and guests dancing with girls, but the naughty bits are largely hinted at more than anything else. The unintended camp effect of the film does yield some laughs, and the best scene is Paula’s speech at the end of the film (“There’s a very dirty word for what you are”). Nancy’s character also adds unintentionally to the fun. She’s so naive and yet utterly corruptible. Playing a naive character requires a great deal of skill–it’s not easy to convey artlessness without appearing a bit dense. Consequently, Nancy is portrayed as a brainless self-serving twit who’s so mesmerized by a bauble or two, she eagerly sinks into debauchery. Ultimately, the film is a cautionary tale that’s too inhibited to capitalize on some of the excellent scenes.

This black and white film from Alpha is acceptable quality. The film skips in just a few places, but is decent overall. Options … play or scene selection.

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