The smashing successes of the same year’s Johnny Wadd and Flesh of the Lotus necessitated another entry in the cycle of the titular private eye films so another production budget of $750 was set aside and another day on the calendar was blacked out to make everybody’s dreams come true. In the world of early, quickie hardcore features, it was quite literally another day, another bag full of countless dollars.
In The Blonde in Black Lace, the third film in the series, Susan Forneau (Susan Wescott) hires Johnny Wadd (John Holmes) to gather evidence she can use against her cruel millionaire husband, Claude (Alain Patrick), so she can force a divorce that he steadfastly refuses to give her. As Claude is nefarious enough to force Susan to have sex with his bodyguard, Bill (Charles Lish), she also feels her life is in mortal danger.
On a technical level, The Blonde in Black Lace is a little more varied than the previous two films. Bob Chinn ups the game a little by incorporating some interesting point-of-view shots and orchestrating a more swinging and snappier rhythm. We shift from exteriors back to interiors and between camera setups within scenes with more frequency than in the previous Johnny Wadd films. Additionally, Chinn’s producing partner and sometime cameraman Alain Patrick (who also portrays the lecherous cad Claude Forneau) does a really fine job in this film ensuring the sex scenes don’t sit and curdle as he employs a fluid and wandering eye both in the point-of-view shots early in the film and also within the simple setups found throughout resulting in a much more dynamic screen movement and action. Also impressive is watching John Holmes scale the side of Alain Patrick’s condo without a net though it’s unclear why Holmes also scales the length of the garage in the caper’s denouement when he could have just jumped the fence. I have no insight into this but I can only assume that given how much John Holmes looks like he’s enjoying creeping across the roof like he’s Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief, it was he who suggested the idea. Take that Tom Cruise.
At this point, there was a certain formula that began to show in the Johnny Wadd films so when the pairing between Wadd and ex-flame Patty (Chlorine Stilllwater) occurs, it feels just a little rote and listless. But that isn’t to say that the sex scenes themselves aren’t good. Quite the opposite, in fact. For The Blonde in Black Lace is comfortably bookended with the presence of Nora Wieternik who portrays Jeannie Hamilton, (probably) the same character as the kidnapped heiress of the first film, now working for Wadd as his personal secretary. She embodies the kind of good natured and free spirited west coast hedonism that ran through the sunniest cast members involved in Chinn’s productions. And while, due to English not being her native language, her delivery may be flat and she completely blows a joke about her sister’s baby in the film’s final moments, it doesn’t really much matter as her closer with Holmes results in one of the best sex scenes the first four Johnny Wadd movies has to offer.
Unfortunately, through no real fault of anyone involved in the production, The Blonde in Black Lace suffers from neglect which mars the presentation but doesn’t completely undermine it. Between the action climax with Lish and Holmes duking it out Five Easy Pieces-style in the oilfield and the penultimate sex scene between Wescott and Holmes, there lies a jarring and disconcerting jump cut that probably doesn’t excise much story but, let’s face it, cutting from John Holmes triumphantly walking away from the crumpled body of Charles Lish to immediately being jowls deep Susan Wescott creates more spacial agitation than one might think it would. Despite all references to the running time reflecting the same 56 minutes as is the length of the version that I screened, I’m fairly certain that the film initially ran a little longer than an hour and a proper transition scene between Holmes and Wescott certainly existed. Unfortunately, as of this writing, there doesn’t seem to be any complete prints floating around.
Though it’s highly enjoyable and, at under an hour in its extant form, it never overstays its welcome, the parameters that surround a $750 budget were becoming to be all-too-visible and showing their limitations. Much like Alain Patrick’s living room that made up the primary interior set of the Johnny Wadd movies, you can only move the furniture around so many ways in a 750 square foot space and make it look fresh.
(C) Copyright 2023, Patrick Crain