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  Fly Me Another flight, another layover
Year: 1973
Director: Cirio H. Santiago
Stars: Pat Anderson, Lenore Kasdorf, Lylla Torena, Richard Young, Naomi Stevens, Dick Miller, Ken Metcalfe, Vic Diaz, Richard Roarke, Carmen Barredo, Cole Mallard, Leo Martinez, Pat Munzon
Genre: Comedy, Sex, Action, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Bubbly stewardess Toby (Pat Anderson) is so late for her first flight she hurriedly changes out of her bikini into uniform in the back of a taxi, giving the lucky cabbie (grindhouse staple Dick Miller) an eyeful. At the airport Toby meets her fellow stewardesses Andrea (Lenore Kasdorf) and Sherry (Lylla Torena) but is startled to find her overbearing Italian mother (Naomi Stevens) is aboard the plane. On a layover in Hong Kong, Toby's mama goes out of her way to stop her daughter from enjoying a romantic liaison with a handsome doctor (Richard Young). Meanwhile Andrea's search for missing boyfriend Donald (Ken Metcalfe) requires her to use her crack kung fu skills against an array of black belt assassins as she uncovers a sex trafficking gang, aided by an undercover Chinese agent. Lastly, Sherry goes from shagging every man she can get her hands on to being imprisoned by the very same sex traffickers.

An airline ad campaign ("I'm Mandy. Fly me") devised by Dick Wolf, later creator of long-running television series Law & Order, made air travel and stewardesses in particular synonymous with sex in the Seventies. Never slow to pick up on a hot topic exploitation filmmakers dutifully churned out the likes of The Stewardesses (1969), The Naughty Stewardesses (1975) and Blazing Stewardesses (1975). Someone at Roger Corman's New World Pictures must have remembered the hardly classic jet-set romantic comedy Come Fly With Me (1963) because Fly Me plays a variation of the same plot that was itself derived from Three Coins in a Fountain (1954). Essentially, three air hostesses looking for love end up in all sorts of trouble. Although, this being an exploitation film, that trouble was a whole lot racier than before.

Corman's exploitation films famously stirred in a little bit of everything into the pot. Hence, Fly Me veers wildly from eye-rolling sub-sitcom gags involving Toby's pasta scoffing Italian stereotype mama trying to cock-block her boyfriend at every turn into third-rate kung fu action before taking a whiplash turn with the sex trafficker sub-plot including some frankly jarring rape sequences. Those well versed in the eccentricities of Seventies exploitation will be willing to excuse the odd lapse into bad taste. For the most part it is a cheap and cheerful cocktail of silly jokes and T&A that is knowingly ridiculous although with infamous Filipino hack Cirio H. Santiago at the helm the film is more often funny for all the wrong reasons. Santiago's ineptitude leaves scenes seemingly shuffled at random relying upon over-dubs to convey important plot information. Quite how much of the film he directed remains open to debate given the opening titles credit then New World staffers Jonathan Demme with 'film direction' and Joe Dante as 'dialogue director' while actor David Chow handled the martial arts sequences.

Obviously the sexual mores (after Toby escorts a little boy to the bathroom he asks if she wants to stay and "watch it grow?") and casual racism (aside from the scenes where white girls get groped by leering old Chinese men, all of the characters balk at Chinese food for some reason) have dated considerably. Yet, for all the dodgy onscreen antics, it is an oddly inoffensive film on account of its jaunty tone. Some of the silly gags do tickle the funny bone including the ridiculous scene where Toby's mother and a corpulent Filipino police chief chow down on a gargantuan lunch. The three leads are undeniably appealing, engaging personalities and, of course, disrobe frequently. Lenore Kasdorf, a TV staple throughout the Seventies, proves the most fetching and easily the best actress which must be why she shoulders the most substantial, albeit no less dumb, sub-plot. Her kung fu fights are none too convincing but Kasdorf throws herself into the action with appealing gusto. Counterbalancing the racism the film proves open-minded enough to include an interracial romance between Andrea and the Chinese agent while the mid-plot twist is mildly effective. It ends with all the characters conveying at the sex traffickers secret headquarters for a bloody shootout which is an odd but memorable way to end a sex comedy.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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