Chatterbox (1977)

Rating: C+

Dir: Tom DeSimone
Star: Candice Rialson, Larry Gelman, Jane Kean, Perry Bullington

I’ve always had a fondness for DeSimone, considering he directed the all-time trash classic, Reform School Girls. Well before that, he made this adult comedy which allowed him to move out of porn, and into the (relatively) up-market world of horror and sleaze. It’a about hairdresser Penelope Pittman (Rialson), whose vagina suddenly starts taking, having apparently developed a mind of its own. Not only that, but it appears to have a fondness for show-tunes, belting out Old Folks at Home during an American Medical Association symposium and them embarking on a showbiz career organized by Pittman’s psychiatrist/manager, Dr. Pearl (Gelman). This is to the horror of Penelope, who is a shy, retiring type, in total contrast to the outrageous and sex-mad antic of “Virginia,” as her chatty catty is known. The problems are plentiful, such as Virginia commenting acerbicly on the prowess, or lack thereof, of her boyfriend Ted (Bullington). Comedian Rip Taylor shows up as her boss at the hair-salon, for no readily apparent purpose.

It is, very obviously, a one-joke film, but that one joke proves to have just about sufficient mileage in it, to get this through its 72-minute running time, before the novelty of it wears off entirely. It is, however, a pretty close call, helped by a fairly winning performance from Rialson, who does “embarrassed” extremely well, with something of a similarity to the young Goldie Hawn. The central premise – or, at least, less the talking twat, than it getting copious TV appearances – is probably more plausible now, with the general moral collapse of network television. The film is actually remarkably chaste given its subject matter: we never get to see the loquacious cooch at all, and nor was I able to find any trace who did the voice work either. To my surprise, some of the musical numbers were written by none other than Neil Sedaka, and if the film looks pretty decent, that may be down to the presence of cinematographer Tak Fujimoto, who would go on to shoot rather more salubrious pictures, like Silence of the Lambs and Signs. Truly one of a kind, in just about every way.