(UK - 1978)
Directed by Quentin Masters. Written by Jackie Collins, Dave Humphries and Christopher Stagg. Cast: Joan Collins, Oliver Tobias, Sue Lloyd, Mark Burns, Doug Fisher, Walter Gotell, Tony Allyn, Emma Jacobs, Peter Lukas, Natalie Ogle, Constantin De Goguel, Sarah Lawson, Franco De Rosa, Chris Jagger, Peter Bourke. (R, 96 mins)
In constant rotation in Showtime's late night "After Hours" block in the early-to-mid '80s, the softcore porn cult classics THE STUD (1978) and its sequel THE BITCH (1979) were the first film projects of UK brewery and pub company Brent Walker as well as the first big-screen adaptations of legendary trashy romance novelist Jackie Collins. Co-scripted by Collins and conceived as a starring vehicle for her older sister Joan, THE STUD was a big hit in the UK and it proved to be the first step in reviving 45-year-old Joan's stagnant career, which began in the early 1950s but by 1978 found her slumming in Eurotrash crime movies and drive-in fare like EMPIRE OF THE ANTS. That would all change in 1981 when she enjoyed a major comeback with the zeitgeisty success of the ABC series DYNASTY. A resurgent Collins became so synonymous with the DYNASTY phenomenon that it's easy to forget that she didn't even join the show until its second season. THE STUD gave the actress a chance to give her Alexis Carrington/bitch-on-wheels act a test drive as Fontaine Khaled, owner of the posh, members-only disco Hobo and trophy wife to wealthy businessman Ben Khaled (Walter Gotell, best known as General Gogol in the Roger Moore-era 007 movies). Fontaine is a sexually voracious nympho with a ton of studs on standby, but her favorite is Tony Blake (Oliver Tobias), Hobo manager and insatiable player. Tony beds a different woman every night but is growing disillusioned with ennui and the excess of the night life and being at Fontaine's beck-and-call, and he's even planning on quitting Hobo and opening his own nightclub with unscrupulous investment broker Ian Thane (Peter Lukas).
disco tunes and cheesy, pre-Skinemax sex scenes, it's easy to laugh at THE STUD, but it really steps up its game in the home stretch, demonstrating some unexpected depth and thoughtfulness that one doesn't usually associate with the work of Jackie Collins. Dave Humphries and Christopher Stagg are credited with "additional material and dialogue," so it's possible they brought that out in some rewrites (Humphries' writing credits also include such respected titles as the 1977 cult horror film THE HAUNTING OF JULIA and the 1979 Who rock opera QUADROPHENIA). There's occasional hints of that drama here and there--there's just something haunting and sublimely melancholy about last call at a dimly-lit '70s nightclub with the remaining desperate stragglers either facedown drunk or hooking up to the tune of 10cc's 1975 hit "I'm Not in Love."
(UK - 1979)
Written and directed by Gerry O'Hara. Cast: Joan Collins, Michael Coby (Antonio Cantafora), Kenneth Haigh, Ian Hendry, Mark Burns, Sue Lloyd, Carolyn Seymour, Doug Fisher, John Ratzenberger, Pamela Salem, Peter Wight, George Sweeney, Chris Jagger, Peter Burton, Maurice Thorogood, Bill Mitchell, Jill Melford. (R, 93 mins)
THE STUD did a great job of capturing the UK perspective of the kind of Studio 54 debauchery that defined the excess of late '70s nightlife. It was such a smash in England--as well as a minor grindhouse and drive-in hit when Trans-American Films released it in the US in 1979--that it spawned an immediate sequel with 1979's THE BITCH, bringing back Joan Collins and much of THE STUD's supporting cast. Though it was based on her novel, Jackie Collins didn't return for THE BITCH, nor did director Quentin Masters, so the Brent Walker guys assigned writing and directing duties to veteran British journeyman Gerry O'Hara, whose career as an assistant and second unit director dated back to the 1940s before he moved into making his own films in the 1960s. Though he worked as an assistant on prestigious fare like RICHARD III (1955), ANASTASIA (1956), and CLEOPATRA (1963), O'Hara never really distinguished himself as his own director, jumping from genre to genre, finding a niche after THE BITCH with 1983's bawdy Brent Walker/Harry Alan Towers co-production FANNY HILL, and eventually ending his career with Cannon during their life support years, when he replaced Ken Russell during pre-production on the dire THE MUMMY LIVES, a horror movie with Tony Curtis that spent three years on the shelf before going straight to video in 1996. O'Hara sticks to the STUD formula with THE BITCH, but the results are less successful. The continuing chronicle of Fontaine Khaled's sexcapades is dull and plodding, even with a surplus of skin and sex scenes, and the action is bogged down by an uninteresting plot about Fontaine tangling with gangsters over an expensive diamond ring that inadvertently comes into her possession.
THE WORLD IS FULL OF MARRIED MEN, with Anthony Franciosa and Carroll Baker, and 1979's YESTERDAY'S HERO, an original Collins script about a hard-drinking, washed up soccer star (Ian McShane) that represented a bit of a departure from her signature romance trash. The British-made YESTERDAY'S HERO was never released theatrically in the US, despite McShane's love interest being played by Suzanne Somers, riding high at the time thanks to the enormously popular THREE'S COMPANY. From then on, Jackie Collins' novels were adapted for the small screen with miniseries like HOLLYWOOD WIVES and LUCKY CHANCES. THE STUD and THE BITCH did find a fan in Aaron Spelling, who saw both and hired Collins to add some catty, vindictive bitchiness to DYNASTY, which gave the veteran actress' stalled American career a powerfully gusting second wind that turned her into a TV icon.