Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Emanuelle and the White Slave Trade (1978)

Directed by Joe D'Amato
Starring Laura Gemser,
Gabriele Tini, Ely Galleani
88 Minutes/Color

Plot Summary: While visiting an old friend, Emanuelle seizes the chance to photograph a notorious underworld figure. One thing leads to another, and she soon has bigger fish to fry when she discovers another mafioso-type involved in a human trafficking ring. To get the story, she goes undercover into the pleasure palace of the diabolical Madame Claude, but is soon discovered and shipped off for a lobotomy! Will her feminine wiles save the day once again?

Review: Watching this film, the last of the Black Emanuelle films helmed by Joe D'Amato (with the exception of the cut-and-paste Unleashed Perversions of Emanuelle,) this viewer finds himself asking "haven't we been here before?"

The whole film plays out with a rather dreary sense of cinematic déja vu. Both director and star (Laura Gemser, of course) acquit themselves with such a palpable sense of ennui, that it's contagious. Plucky Emanuelle flits about, photgraphing people in compromising positions, encounters a white slavery ring and corrupt officials, and becomes a crusader for women's rights. No, it's not Emanuelle in America or Emanuelle Around the World. White Slave Trade lacks those films' deliriously sleazy fun. D'Amato and Gemser seem tired, and so does the film.

Sex is more fun when your
genitals don't touch.
White Slave Trade is not without its moments, however. Nico Fidenco's score is as trippy and infectious as ever, and genre stalwarts Ely Galleani, Gabriele Tinti and the ubiquitous Venantino Venantini (whose filmography defines the word "prolific") are on hand to provide able support to Gemser's bedhopping, photojournalistic antics.

One scene that nearly saves the film from being totally forgettable is a bizarre Kung Fu fight between Emanuelle's cross-dressing cohort and a gaggle of baddies in a bowling alley, which seems to come from another film entirely. It's quirky, it's fun, and it is completely random. It's everything the rest of the film is not.

"What? Nobody told me
there would be nudity!"
Without the shocking gore and explicit sex of Emanuelle in America, or the joyful way Emanuelle Around the World revels in exploiting everything its narrative claims to condemn, Emanuelle and the White Slave Trade is utterly routine - a soft-focus imitation of what came before, much as the Black Emanuelle cycle was to the original French Emmanuelle series.

While entertaining to a degree, Emanuelle and the White Slave Trade is one of the lesser entries into the saga. Gemser would reprise the role in three subsequent Black Emanuelle films for other directors: Emanuelle, Queen of Sados (in which she is certainly not the same character she plays here) and the back-to-back Violence in a Women's Prison and Women's Prison Massacre.

Melons cure Scurvy.
Florence Nightingale, eat yer heart out!
The DVD from Severin Films presents the film in anamorphic widescreen, looks better than the grey market bootlegs that we've all seen for years, and is uncut. The picture and sound are rather warmed over, but I suspect that the original was filmed on very cheap stock, and this is the best the film will ever look.

Emanuelle and the White Slave Trade is worth a look, but its perfectly safe to leave it at the bottom of your must-see list.

-Johnny Stanwyck


  1. Also notice how NYC scenes with Gemser and Tinti are recycled from LAST CANNIBALS? A truly lazy affair.

    1. Yep, and Uncle Joe used those same shots in "The Unleashed Perversions of Emanuelle" as well. Also in the film, the scenes of Emanuelle at the newspaper office are from CANNIBALS, just redubbed. Not sure whether to groan or laught at loud.

  2. Ah, HOT LEGS! Now this is what the Golden Age of Adult Films is all about! Bob Chinn, by this point a veteran of adult cinema whose name just screams quality, directs a first-rate cast performing a first-rate script, shot by a first-rate crew of professionals. Not only does the film look terrific, full of clever camera work and sizzling sex scenes, it's just plain FUN!