|Vintage Pulp||Apr 17 2014|
The above poster, which is very rare, promotes an American x-rated flick called Farewell Scarlet, starring Terri Hall acting under the bizarre name National Velvet, a decision we’re sure didn’t go over well with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Made during the days when adult films were real cinema, Farewell Scarlet is a porno murder mystery about a woman who is murdered at an orgy. The cause of death? Asphyxiation via a large, wiggly dildo. The moment is actually depicted on the lower left quadrant of the poster, which is fine because the genre requirements here are sex, not suspense, so presumably nobody in Japan cared if the art fingered the killer. You’d think the death of the star at the 5:40 mark would leave a void in the film, but Hall’s many other scenes are shot in flashback as the character of Dexter Sleuth attempts to unravel the mystery.
And of course there are other performers present to fill the running time, notably Kim Pope, who had been ko’d by a mugger prior to filming and had to perform with her jaw wired shut. That’s really no laughing matter, but unfortunately, watching her deliver cheesy dialogue through gritted teeth is unavoidably funny. On the bright side for her, perhaps being unable to talk was for the better, since it probably prevented her from strongly protesting her key participation in a sado-masochistic Nazi sex scene while wearing swastika pasties. How does the movie get there? Doesn’t matter. Ultimately it’s as much a comedy as it is a mystery, and that’s part of its murky, 35mm charm.
And then there’s Hall. The former ballerina would later flex her muscles in golden age classics like The Opening of Misty Beethoven, Rollerbabies, and the frighteningly titled Gums, in the process becoming one of the era’s most famous stars. We'd show you some promo shots of her, like we usually do with the stars of movies we write about, but she seems to have traversed her career without a single good photo ever being made. Which means her movies are the only real evidence of her work. Are we recommending Farewell Scarlet? Not so much. But it is an interesting curiosity. It premiered in the U.S. in 1975 and had its Japanese debut today in 1976.
Update: it took a few years, but in late 2017 we found some Hall photos which we've added below, because we nothing if not completists around here.