There are two porno movies that everyone, even your grandparents, has heard of. The first is Deep Throat, a movie that ushered in the era of porno chic and broke down so many walls in American society that to list them all would require a completely different piece of writing than this review will allow for. The second, and the focus of this two disc set from Kitty Media, is Debbie Does Dallas. While this is hardly a great film or a particularly original film, it does have a certain charm and an interesting mystery that surrounds it in the form of it's leading lady, Bambi Woods, who is either dead or living under a different name somewhere out there (if you're reading this, let us know what happened to you!). At the time that this movie was made, 1978 to be precise, the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders were the hottest thing in all of America. It didn't matter how the football team did, their cheerleading squad was the best in the NFL and it only made sense that someone in the porno movie industry would try and capitalize on it.
At any rate, the film works on a pretty simple premise. Debbie (Bambi Woods who likes more than a little like a young Patricia Arquette and really is quite a gorgeous woman), a cute, fresh faced blonde decides she wants to get to Dallas to try out for a spot on the Texas Cowgirls cheerleading team but she just doesn't have the cash to make the trip and her parents won't front the bill. She decides to apply for various jobs as do her friends: Debbie gets a job at Mr. Greenfield (Robert Kerman of Cannibal Holocaust)'s sports store, Roberta (Christie Ford) winds up taking inventory at the candle shop run by Mr. And Mrs. Hardwick (Eric Edwards and Robin Byrd respectively), and another girl gets a two day a week job at the library.
Unfortunately, none of the girls really get anywhere until they decide to start fucking various people around town which starts when Debbie's boss offers her ten dollars to see her breasts, another ten to play with them and another ten to suck on them. They soon learn that this is a much easier and far more fun way for their trip and to make sure Debbie gets to Dallas and Mr. Greenfield winds up fronting the bill for pretty much the entire trip when Debbie agrees to let him score (which is the big finale of the film - forgive me if that spoils it for you but really, even if you haven't seen the film before you know it was going to go there - stop reading now though if you don't want to know that she's wearing her cheerleader costume and he's in a football uniform!).
The story for the film isn't all that interesting and most of the sex scenes aren't remarkable. You'd think that with the two main qualities for a successful porno movie shot down that the film would fail but it doesn't, oddly enough. It has enough charm and enough corny humor to make it completely watchable, even if you know while you're watching it that the movie isn't that erotic or that well made in the first place. To director Jim Clark's credit, the movie is paced well. It doesn't waste much time with the plot before getting to the sex beginning with a shower room gang bang scene that takes place about ten minutes into the picture where Misty Winter shows off what the good lord gave her to the sound of some fuzzed out electric guitar. From there we bounce back and forth between sex scenes and mediocre plot development bits interspersed with some funny moments and goofy music.
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What makes the movie appealing, and sexy, is the way that these seemingly innocent girls take it upon themselves to take advantage of the populace of their small town and use their feminine wiles to cash in on what they know all of the men (and some of the women as Christie Ford and Robin Byrd will prove with some help from Edwards) want from them in the first place. The girls are essentially whoring, but they look so cute while they do it that you can't help but want them to make it to Dallas for the big day and if they have to suck a little dick to do it, so much the better as far as the audience is concerned. Bambi is at the front of this, showing some convincing innocence (or is it ditzinees?) in the scene early on where Bolla wants to see her tits. She really does know what's going on, we all do, but she plays it up and takes advantage of his instincts.
The 1.33.1 fullframe transfer presents the film in its original aspect ratio. The picture has been re-mastered and it looks considerably better than the previous DVD that was available. There's still some print damage and moderate grain present throughout but there's a lot more detail evident here and the color reproduction is definitely stronger than it has been in the past.
Raincoat Theater provides three audio options for this release – a newly created Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix, the original Dolby Digital mono mix, and a Dolby Digital Mono dubbed track in Spanish. There are no subtitles or closed captions provided.
As far as the quality of the audio goes, the surround mix is fun as it spreads things out a bit, primarily the music, but the mono track is the way to go. This track presents the movie the way it's supposed to sound. There's a little bit of background hiss here and there but that's about the only complaint one can levy against the track and it's not that big a deal in the first place. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout, and Alden Shuman's score comes through nicely. Levels are fine, they're balanced properly and if this sound mix isn't going to blow your mind, it really does get the job done nicely.
The main extra features on this release come in the form of two feature length audio commentary tracks. The first track comes courtesy of Robin Byrd who starred in the film. One of the first thing she points out is that the movie wasn't even shot in Dallas, it was shot in Brooklyn, and how they told everyone they were shooting an educational film. A lot of what Ms. Byrd does is poke fun at what happens on screen. She laughs a fair bit and points out interesting bits and pieces along the way but there's a fair bit of dead air on the track and while it's nice to hear from her, one would have to assume that her memory of her time working on the film might not be so hot anymore. Interestingly enough, she says that she didn't do the film for the money but actually did it because she liked sex. There is a moderator in the background but it's hard to hear him, he's not recorded very well. She expresses her admiration for Bambi's breasts, and talks about how at the time this film was made she used to wear infant t-shirts as she was so tiny. She makes comparisons to how the adult film industry was in the seventies to how it is now but a lot of the insight here is rather fleeting.
The second track is with adult film historian and distributor Phillip Charles Bernstene moderated by Adam Trash and it's a little more informative than the first track is. Bernstene talks about how the movie played in the Pussycat Theaters in California before it hit home vide on VHS and became an insanely popular title. He gives a decent history of the movie, talks about rights holders and ownership issues, and the distribution of the movie. Bernstene had three partners, one of whom was Dave Friedman, in TVX Distributors and they ended up dealing with the movie. They talk about casting the movie, they cover Robert Kerman's involvement, and they talk a fair bit about the mystery surrounding Bambi Woods and what happened to her after she found notoriety with this picture. They talk about the different markets that the movie played in, how it did better in NYC and Europe than in L.A., and how the financial figures were kept a bit of a secret due to mob involvement with the picture. Bernstene talks pretty slowly and hums and haws over his sentences, which leads to a fair bit of time where no one is talking, but he's got plenty of really good stories to tell that make this very worthwhile. He talks about how some jail time that he had to do ruined his involvement in the business for a while, and he even goes into detail on print runs for VHS and BETA releases of the movie and where they were made. There's some odd hiss on this track in spots, which is irritating, as well as some background noise in spots, but the content makes up for it.
Rounding out the extra features on the first disc are trailers for Insatiable (with the original Miracle Films band, 1:08), The Devil In Miss Jones (looks like a recreated trailer and not the original), Neon Nights (a lengthy 4:19) and Babylon Pink (also quite lengthy at 3:50).
Disc two contains the softcore version of the film that runs just a hair over fifty-two minutes and is pretty much the same movie without the penetration scenes which kind of kills the point of the movie. Regardless, it's here as a companion piece to the uncut version and like the softcore version that was included on the second disc of The Devil In Miss Jones, it's really more of a curiosity item than anything else. This version doesn't look nearly as nice as the restored feature on the first disc and it suffers from some odd combing, but it's nice to see it here for the sake of completion.
Also on this disc is a video interview with Robin Byrd, who now sports massive fake hooters, entitled The Making Of Robin Byrd. She talks about growing up in New York, how she got into the adult film industry after discovering sex at the age of twelve and a half. The lighting isn't so hot on this piece, things are pretty dark, but it's interesting to hear how Robin majored in art at college and how she put herself through school. She talks about posing for High Society and doing a layout for them, and how she was the orgy queen in the seventies and how she worked in television for a while on The Robin Byrd Show (there are some cool clips provided here). She started in porno movies around that time and has since made a career out of it. The whole thing clocks in at just under thirty-seven minutes in length and it gives us a pretty extensive look at Bird's lengthy career in pornography and some interesting biographical information as well.
Rounding out the extra features on the second disc is the original theatrical trailer for the film, and a nice still gallery that plays as a slideshow set to music from the movie and is made up of various promotional photographs, and video release art.
While Debbie Does Dallas is far from the best dirty movie of the era, it was hugely influential and it did have quite an impact. Bambi Woods is likeable enough in the lead and the mystery around her disappearance makes the movie more interesting than it would be otherwise. Kitty Media has done a very solid job on this two-disc release and while it isn't perfect it is a big step up from other home video incarnations and vintage smut fans should enjoy the package. Highly recommended.