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 VCX, 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 its 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.
A couple of years back, VCX released a special edition of Debbie Does Dallas in conjunction with Media Blasters' Raincoat Theater line. At first glance, or at least judging by the cover, you'd think that this was simply a reissue of that release. Dig a little deeper though and you'll see that this is absolutely not the case.
The 1.33.1 fullframe transfer presents the film in its original aspect ratio. The picture quality here is pretty close to the previous special edition release, though it looks like it's just slightly more compressed and maybe not quite as sharp. Color reproduction is comparable and there isn't really a big difference between the two. This isn't reference quality, but it's not a bad looking effort for an older porno movie. It's perfectly watchable and while there is a bit of print damage here and there it's nothing too serious - the good outweighs the bad.
VCX provides two audio options for this release - a newly created Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound 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 original mono track, which was on the last release, has been unfortunately been omitted. Regardless, 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. But yeah, VCX, where's the mono?
Here's where this release really differs from the last one. 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. This track appeared on the previous release.
The previous release also had a commentary from film historian Phillip Charles Bernstene moderated by Adam Trash. This track is gone and in its place is an all new commentary from Herschel Savage, who starts off by explaining that he has never appeared in the credits or on the box art for any home video release for this film. From there he explains how he got the crew inside Brooklyn College to shoot some scenes there, what it was like being in the adult film industry in 1977 during the early years of his own career and of course what it was like working on this picture. He tells a great story towards the end of the track about taking his sister and one of her friends to see one his films play theatrically on 42nd street without really realizing how horrible an idea that was at the time. There are some gaps of silence throughout but this is an interesting talk.
Rounding out the extra features on the first disc the trailer for Debbie Does Dallas, some menus, and scene selection sub-menus.
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. This appeared on the previous release and it's cool to see it carried over this time around again. 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.
Also found on the second disc are some exclusive featurettes, just in case you don't have enough Herschel Savage in your life. The first is Herschel Savage: Tales Of A Porn Star (1:09:42). This near feature length documentary looks at Savage's life and work from his early days working alongside R. Bolla (who helped him get in touch with the right managers and promoters) to what it was like working in the industry during the golden years and how it has changed over the decades. He talks about his working relationship with director Ted Snyder and about his mob connections, and about various other cast and crew that he's been involved with over the many years he's been a dick for hire. It's a fairly interesting piece and Savage, never without a sense of humor, tells some good stories here. The second featurette is Herschel Savage Screws The Stars and judging by the fact that he's sitting in the exact same spot as he was in the last featurette, this was made at the same time by the same people. Here Herschel gives a rundown on what it was like working with some of the most beautiful women of the industry at the time. He gives us his thoughts on the likes of legends like Seka, Kay Parker, Annette Haven, Amber Lynn and more. It's all pretty respectfully done and you get the impression that Herschel really liked a lot of the ladies he came into contact with over the years.
Rounding out the extras on this disc are a still gallery and trailers for Eruption, Little Girls Blue, Prisoner Of Paradise and Inside Desiree Cousteau.
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. If you've got the previous special edition release you might want to hold on to it for the original mono mix and the exclusive commentary but if you don't, this 30th Anniversary Edition has more extras and is likely going to be much easier to find. Highly recommended.