Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Joy of Flying (1977)

Starring Corinne Cartier, Gianni Garko
Directed by F.J. Gottlieb

Synopsis

Bored with her loutish boyfriend and humdrum life as a shop girl, Silvia wants desperately to shake off her inhibitions but just can't seem to let go. Enter George, a dashing (and over-sexed) businessman intent on making Silvia yet another notch on his headboard. Little does he know what is in store him when Silvia finally does learn the joys of free love!

Review

Reviewing film comedies is, if you'll excuse the rather lame pun, a funny business. This is particularly true if that film is made in a language other than your own. Comedy is very much a culture-based art form - what's funny to us might inspire a blank stare elsewhere and vice-versa. This is even more true for sex comedies. Different cultures have individual taboos and norms, which means a sex comedy has its work cut out when making a trans-Atlantic cinematic voyage.

The Joy of Flying is, on the page, a textbook German sex comedy. All the stock characters are there: the womanizing hero, the frigid heroine and her unfailingly-trampy BFF, the spinster secretary, the flaming queen, the convent-educated nymphomaniac, the hooker, the sexually-insatiable older woman just waiting to be dominated...well, I could go on for quite a while. What makes The Joy of Flying stand apart is that it is legitimately funny, well-directed and performed. This bed-hopping farce is directed with precision and pacing and stars a cast of talented performers who remain engaging even when not running about in the buff.


Gianni Garko and Olivia Pascal.
A quick aside, don't be concerned...there is plenty of hopping about in the buff in The Joy of Flying. Refreshingly, there is something for everyone as the boobs-a-plenty are complimented by a more-than-average ration of man flesh. Anyhow, moving on...

Our cast is headed by the handsome and talented Gianni Garko, whose reign as King of the Spaghetti Westerns had faded by the late 1970's, after which he easily threw himself into the booming sex comedy genre. Casting a genuine actor in the leading role makes an otherwise despicable womanizer like George oddly likable. While his vocal delivery is obscured by the (rather enjoyably daffy) English dubbing, his talent for face-pulling and physical comedy is pitched perfectly for farce without going too over-the-top.

Corinne Cartier
Our leading lady, Silvia, is brought to life by then-newcomer Corinne Cartier. Cartier's face was made for cinema...her glamorous movie-goddess looks are impossible to turn away from. While the presence of the quiet Silvia is somewhat overshadowed by the endless parade of oddballs surrounding her, Cartier holds her own and manages to stand out by doing the opposite of what her co-stars are doing. Rather than wild gesticulations, Cartier plays her role with a controlled wink, quiet amusement and she is obviously having a ball. In her (many) nude scenes she reveals a body both lithe and sensual, both glamorous and real.

Gorgeous German actress Olivia Pascal (who also starred in the infamous Vanessa) has a small but memorable role as Maria, a convent schoolgirl with an insatiable appetite for sex in dangerous places. Her comedic timing is perfect and she livens up every scene in which which she appears. Pascal would excel during the T&A boom of the 1970's and continues to be in demand in German film and television.

Caught in the act.
The storyline, a repressed young woman goes in search of erotic fulfillment, may be pretty much identical to every comedic sexploiter of the era, The Joy of Flying is head-and-shoulders above so many others. In addition to the charming cast, director Franz Gottlieb clearly cares about the film he is making. This is no quickie boobs and booties cash-in. Spectacular flying sequences, lush interiors and exotic locales give the film a gloss so often missing in these types of films. It's obvious the director wants as much to amuse his audience as titillate them. Gottlieb has a knack for humor and detail and amusing set-pieces crop up alongside the main thrust of the story at regular intervals.

Ajita Wilson
How about the titillation, then? Well, the film doesn't skimp. While most of the sexual escapades are played for laughs and push the story along, they also generate real heat. A romp between George and his belle du jour while his secretary jabbers away unaware is both humorous and sexy. Later, a threeway nude massage between the hero and two women is as erotic as it is absurd. The hottest scene in the movie happens in the final act as George beds a cold businesswoman played by the legendary Ajita Wilson, appearing here in an extended cameo role.

While so many other sex comedies fall flat, seeming to be merely an excuse to hang nude scenes on, The Joy of Flying is a ridiculous amount of fun. Even the score is memorable and comedic with choruses of "C'mon let's do it, do it, do bee do bee do bee do it!" 

Do bee do bee do bee do it!
The Joy of Flying has much to recommend: hearty laughs, copious nudity (both male and female), a catchy score, talented performers and capable direction. Long a stalwart of late-night cable, The Joy of Flying is a bit harder to find these days. It was released on DVD in Germany in a slightly-edited form and appeared on VHS in various territories as The Joy of Flying, Sex at 7000 Feet and Erotic Ways.

Relax and enjoy this one. Recommended.

-Johnny Stanwyck

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