Down Town (1975)

Director:Jess Franco Running time: 82 min Country:Switzerland Language:German Genre: Comedy, Crime, Exploitation  

Subtitle:English  Starring: Jesús Franco ... Al Pereira, Lina Romay ... Cynthia, Paul Muller ... Inspector Mendoza, Martine Stedil ... Lola, Beni Cardoso ... Rita, Eric Falk Eric Falk ... Carlos Rivas, Raymond Hardy ... Pepe, Monica Swinn ... Olga Ramos, Ronald Weiss ... Criminal Assistant, Roman Huber,Martina Domingo ... Stripper,Peggy Markoff ... Lady at the bar



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Special Features:
- Interview with director Jess Franco and producer Erwin C. Dietrich (~11min)
- Bonus trailers for "Rolls Royce Baby" (2:39) and "Das Bildnis der Doriana Gray" (0:53)

Story Line:
In Puerto Rico, a down-on-his-luck private detective is hired by a woman to take compromising photos of her husband, a notorioous nightclub owner. After he finishes the job, he finds himself hauled in by the police, who inform him that the nightclub owner has been murdered--and that he is the prime suspect.

Cult Movie Reviews:
While Jess Franco made plenty of light-hearted comic-book style movies Downtown (Die nackten Puppen der Unterwelt) in 1975 is probably the closest he got to pure comedy. Its a private eye spoof combined with a sex comedy, and its one of his odder movies.

Franco himself (in one of his best acting performances) plays Al Pereira, a down-on-his-luck rather seedy and not especially honest private eye. Hes employed by the glamorous wife (played by Lina Romay) of a wealthy businessman to take photos of the industrialist having sex with his mistress. It sounds sleazy but not not too dangerous, and Al needs the work. It turns out that its actually much more complicated, and involves blackmail and murder, and poor Al is in the frame for the slaying.

Hes also so deeply enmeshed he cant see a way to escape, and hes so sexually obsessed by Lina Romay hes not sure he even wants to escape. And when he gets the chance to play kinky sex games with both Cynthia (Lina Romay) and her girlfriend Lola hes well and truly hooked. Unfortunately that means becoming a partner in more blackmail, and being an unwitting accomplice in further murders.

Franco is a lot of fun as Al. Hes nervous, fidgety, neurotic, paranoid and totally consumed by lust. Lina Romay sheds her clothes and her inhibitions and gives a lively and entertaining performance, while Franco regular Paul Muller is good as the cynical police inspector who has a certain sympathy for the hapless Al.

And it has a nightclub performance scene. In fact, several nightclub performance scenes. These are always a highlight of any Franco movie, and Lina Romay goes right over-the-top in her strip-tease sequences. There are staggering quantities of nudity in this film, but there are also some real laughs and some genuine fun. And theres even an actual mystery plot in there somewhere.

This is second-rank Franco, not to be compared to classics like Vampyros Lesbos or Venus in Furs, but if you accept it for what it is its rather silly entertaining fun.