Friday, September 12, 2014

Video Cheese/Oddball Film Report: COVERGIRL (1982)

Note: This review was originally written for, and has been published here by the kind permission of Mr. Ken Begg.

Couldn't find art for this film, so this poster art comes from a 70's porno about cover girl models!

COVERGIRL (1982 - color)

   "A rich jerk falls for a fashion model and vows to make her the most famous name in the industry."

   The box top for Covergirl shows a half dozen exaggeratedly sexy models on a bare set. None of them are in the film's cast. Based on this, I figured the film would be a TV movie that was being pushed as a skin flick by the video distributor. Well, its not a TV movie. Nor is it a skin flick. I have no idea who this picture was aimed at!

   It resembles a chick flick at times, but its not really that. Its an exploitation movie, but not overly exploitative (while there is some nudity here, all of it is pretty much peripheral, of the "why did they even bother" variety). 

   Its not a comedy. 

   Its not a romance. 

   Its not really a drama. 

   Its not an industry documentary. 

   It might be considered a buddy picture of sorts, except those relationships are rarely on screen. 

   What is this and who was it made for? The film feels like filler, like the whole thing is padding. Was it assembled to flesh out a double bill? Probably not specifically, not in 1982.

  Adding to the problem is the film's digest-like nature. We don't follow a story as much as jump from scene to scene. We see plenty of bits unrelated to anything else, and major events occur off screen. The time frame in which all this occurs is likewise problematic because we're given no clue. The events seen here would seem to play out over several months, but the way this stuff is cut, it could be within a week! 

   For instance, our leading lady's hair changes in every scene, and I can't tell if this is to indicate passage of time or just happens because she's a model and has to change her look all the time. One minute she has a perm, the next her hair is straight, but not for any effect. It just happens. 

   Further kneecapping any solidity the film may've had is that our leads are so boring.

   Our male star is Jeff Conaway, Bobby Wheeler of Taxi. Maybe the director didn't give him enough to work with or something, but Conaway displays a complete lack of charisma as T. C. Sloane, the supposedly charismatic leader of big business gadget-making company Leisure 80. 

   Its not a good sign when every single supporting player is more interesting to watch than our star. Oh, and being a rich guy in an 80s movie, he has a little robot roaming around acting as his manservant, just like the one from Rocky IV

   Conaway can't take all the blame, however, the script is working against him. Sloane is supposed to be a charming rogue of sorts, but he's just an arrogant jerk. Granted, being a jerk snags him the leading lady, but I can't imagine his approach to women would ever work in real life.

   Irena Ferris plays Kit Paget, the fashion model Sloane intends to make an international icon. Ferris was a regular on Dallas before leaving acting, and she now does charity work providing medical care to inner city kids. She's better than Conaway here, but not by much. During the opening credits, she's told to eye the camera and look sexy, and she strikes a brain-dead expression that caused me to laugh out loud (I may have laughed harder at this than the episode of Get Smart I watched afterward)! 

   She's pretty bland, and again isn't aided by the script. She keeps making wild leaps in her character, as the film glosses over important developments that play like missing scenes. One minute, Kit and Sloane are in love, the next she's throwing a tantrum on live television. Trying to calm her down, Sloane accidentally slaps the show's hostess. This is played as something that will have a major impact on both their lives, but is never spoken of again!

   This must be a rare film, because the IMDB has almost nothing on it. A title search turned up nothing, then I found it in Conaway's filmography, but the date was listed as 1984. I was sure the copyright on the tape was 82, so I don't know who to believe. I suppose it could have been shot in 82 and released in 84, but that's just a guess on my part.

   Our plot, such as it is, has rookie (but published) model Kit Paget taking a taxi to an important gig. Meanwhile, Sloane is also in a hurry and the two collide in a parking lot. In a potentially funny bit (but I didn't think of it as a comedy scene until the day after I'd watched it), Sloane, his driver (who Sloane had traded places with because Sloane felt he was driving too slow), Kit, and a beat cop are all stuffed into a taxi so the report can be made out while Sloane makes his meeting. 

   See what I mean? In a Bob Hope movie, that set up by itself would have been funny. In Covergirl, it just sits there like everything else, confusing the viewer as to what reaction he should have. 

   Anyway, after ruining her day, Sloane decides he's smitten with Kit. Kit, smartly, ignores him.

   We're just getting started, though. Sloane sees Kit's picture while flipping through a magazine and tells his friends/stooges to find out who she is. Later, he shows up at a fur show in which Kit is a model. He loudly states that he will buy the fur Kit is wearing and demands that she model the other furs. Embarrassed, Kit models the other furs, all of which are purchased by Sloane. In this sequence, we also get a bit of rivalry between Kit and a Nordic woman who was last year's hot stuff. She'll weave in and out of the movie, but her contributions to the film are minimal. In fact, I don't remember the rivalry ever coming to a head or being resolved.

   Sloane eventually pesters Kit into going out with him. She falls for his charm pretty quickly (or else she loves hanging out with a huge jerk). Then again, maybe its his money she finds attractive, its the only hope he'd have in real life. 

   Sloane tells her he intends to make her the most famous model in the industry (and during '82 there weren't that many famous fashion models, particularly if they never got into acting. There were some, but people couldn't identify catalog models then like they can today). 

   Kit decides to take Sloane's deal, which at this point is still business. Sloane starts by having Leisure 80 buy into the company that represents Kit and helps manage her contract. After that, its onto publicity.

   In the film's one really clever moment, a story has been planted that claims Kit is in love with a famous fashion designer and is going to have his child. Everyone within the industry knows this is just talk because the man is openly homosexual. Kit is horrified of the story and meets with the guy to help square things. The guy turns out to be a flaming heterosexual, he just poses as a guy who rides side-saddle to get close to executives' wives. That, sadly, would exhaust the film's reserve of wit. 

   Among other minor misadventures are the aforementioned television show, an attempted rape by a top photographer, one of Kit's friends ends up in the hospital, another one is secretly a prostitute, and other things happen that go nowhere.

   When we finally get around to an actual plot, it involves the business end of the show. Sloane has his ownership over Kit's contract -and stake in his company- underhandedly swiped by an underling who takes control (he even somehow gets T.C. Sloane's robot and renames it T. C.). 

   Kit threatens to terminate her contract with the new regime, and they promptly tell her not to let the door hit her on the way out. Kit then forms a complicated scheme for her secretly-a-prostitute friend to seduce the new guy and get it on tape. He turns out to be a get-me-drunk-and-I'll-tell-you-anything-you-want-to-know-and-even-more type. 

   Kit later plays the tape at a board meeting where we hear him expose all sorts of dirty dealing while tearing down his wife -who is sitting right next to him at the table! She's just as annoying as everybody else here, but the actress plays her emotional pain so well that the scene comes off a tad sadistic.

    The right people back in charge, Kit has a big show somewhere and we're free to leave. In the final insult, we see that this film was made using the Canadian funding practice of granting taxpayer dollars to fund feature film production! I can only hope our friends in the Great White North sent the director and producer of Covergirl into permanent exile.

   I'll stick with backissues of Millie the Model.


  1. I watched one of the worst "horror" movies,. and I use the term loosely for a waste of 75 minutes of my life on a tasteless piece of garbage, only to see the Canadian Funding label in the credits. I felt the same way. I felt sorry for the Canadian, hard working taxpayer.

    1. A big stink was raised in the mid-70's when THEY CAME FROM WITHIN pushed the envelope of modern horror (the film is easily ten years ahead of it's time). It, too, had been funded by tax dollars, and had a lot of Canadian citizens up in arms about the practice. But I guess "art" won out, because the practice continued.

  2. Wow. I'd call this a rare gem, but it's more of forgotten dross. It's not just that IMDB has little information, but it's probably the greatest source of information available! I tried poking around on Google, but there's pretty much nothing to be found.

    It's always amazing to find flicks like this. It's a weird thrill to find things the internet has forgotten.

    1. Yes, indeed. I fully understand the attraction of unearthing a forgotten movie. COVERGIRL, though, is justifiably forgotten. Even the dedicated obscure movie nut that I am, I only watched it once and then traded it away!

    2. Now I have an image of there only being the one copy of this movie, endlessly traded by horrified viewers...