Saturday, 9 October 2021

Fly Me (1973)

Shout! Factory’s Lethal Ladies Collection volume 2 offers three wonderfully trashy Roger Corman’s produced 70s exploitation movies, including the excellent Pam Grier vehicle The Arena plus Cover Girl Models and Fly Me. Fly Me is the one we’re concerned with at the moment. It was helmed by Cirio H. Santiago who did lots of these sorts of movies for Corman. The king fu sequences (yes, you read that right, this is a stewardess movie with kung fu) were directed by Jonathan Demme.

It’s set in Hong Kong, Manila and Tokyo and it was apparently filmed in Hong Kong and the Philippines.

At first it seems like it will be a typical 70s stewardess movie - some nudity, some jokes, some exotic settings, some melodrama. But take a look at that tagline about stewardesses battling kung fu killers. This is a stewardess action thriller.

There are of course three stewardesses (much the same formula as Corman’s nurse movies) and they’re all babes. Pat Anderson (who really is drop-dead gorgeous) plays new stewardess Toby. Toby is looking forward to some fun when the plane gets to Hong Kong and she’s met a handsome doctor on the flight who should be able to provide just that. And then Toby makes a grisly discovery - her mother is on the flight as well. And her mother is going to be on her next flight as well. Mother is determined to defend Toby’s virginity. Of course back in the 70s (if we’re to believe all those stewardess movies) trying to defend a stewardess’s virginity was likely to be an uphill battle.

Andrea (played by Lenore Kasdorf who is also pretty darned cute) has a problem. She was going to meet her boyfriend in Hong Kong but he’s disappeared. This is our first hint that this is to be a thriller.

And then the third of the trio of stewardesses, Sherry (Lyllah Torena), disappears as well. In fact she’s been kidnapped. And she’s about to be sold into white slavery.

Meanwhile Andrea is being stalked by those kung fu killers but fortunately Andrea is a martial arts expert (stewardesses needed a wide variety of skills in the 1970s). She’s also being stalked by a blind assassin.

The three female leads are not great actresses but they’re certainly enthusiastic. The other cast members are not so great in the acting department.

The kung fu scenes are not exactly of the standard you’d find in a Hong Kong kung fu movie of this vintage.

The plot is all over the place. Trying to keep three plot strands (one for each stewardess) going simultaneously is always a bit of a challenge and in this case the result is something of a confused mishmash.

The plot strands eventually come together, with the aid of some unlikely coincidences. This is not what you would call a tightly plotted movie.

Fortunately this is a Corman picture so when the action starts to flag you can be sure that one of the girls will take her clothes off.

The jokes become more sparse as the movie progresses but there are some genuinely amusing moments early on. In its later stages it relies more on suspense and thrills, but the suspense isn’t that suspenseful and the thrills aren’t that thrilling. Which doesn’t really matter. This is a silly goofy movie and we’re certainly not expected to take it the least bit seriously. It’s very much a popcorn movie.

The anamorphic transfer is a bit iffy with quite a bit of print damage early on. It’s not a major issue and in this type of movie it actually adds a bit more seediness so in some ways it’s a bonus.

Fly Me is not by anybody’s standards a good movie but if you’re in the mood for light-hearted entertainment with three pretty female leads who have trouble keeping their clothes on then you’ll probably enjoy it.

Most people are going to buy the Lethal Ladies Collection volume 2 for The Arena so if you think of the other two movies as bonus movies you’ll be well satisfied.

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