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Featured Blu-ray Review: Au Pair Girls

September 23rd, 2012

Au Pair Girls - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

I think it is safe to say that pornography has never been more mainstream, at least when it comes to pornographic movies. Today porn is a billion dollar industry. (Although I'm having trouble pinning down the exact number, as everyone seems to have a vested interested in exaggerating the number. People in the industry want to make it seem bigger than it is to inflate their financial influence, while those fighting against porn want to make it seem like a bigger problem than it is.) While today anyone with an internet connection can easily find more porn than they could possibly watch in a lifetime, 40 years ago it was just becoming something people would acknowledge existed. Many filmmakers wanted to tap into this market to make money, but were unwilling to go all the way with porn. Hence the appearance of the sex farce. Au Pair Girls is one such film. I have absolutely no advance knowledge of this film and had never heard of it till I was offered a chance to review it. Is it actually a good movie? Or was the promise of titillation the only reason anyone would watch it? Does it hold up nearly 40 years later? Or does it feel dated?

The Movie

First of all, an au pair is... I'm not sure. I think it's a live in nanny or maid. In the film, we follows a quartet of au pairs as they arrive in the U.K. from elsewhere in Europe and Asia. There's Randi Lindstrom (Gabrielle Drake) from Denmark; Anita Sector (Astrid Frank) from Sweden; Nan Lee (Me Me Lay) from China; and Christa Geisler (Nancie Wait) from Germany. All four are working through the Overseas Employment Agency to get jobs with British families doing light domestic work, while also getting the opportunity to learn the language.

Randi is hired by a rich business man, but it is his son, Stephen Wainwright, who picks her up from the airport. Stephen is a bit of a screw-up with an overactive, yet one-dimensional imagination. (Given the type of film this is, you can probably figure out where his fantasy sequences go to.) He's trying to show his father he can do something right. However, on the way to the family estate, he gets a flat tire and things just descend from there.

Anita is hired by the Howard family. Mrs. Howard (Daphne Anderson) shows her around and she asks if she can take a bath before starting work. When Mr. Howard (Geoffrey Bayldon) comes home early and catches her naked in his bathroom, he's a little shocked and barely calms down when his wife tells him Anita is the new au pair. After she works for the day, she heads out on a date with the cab driver who picked her up from the airport. He takes her out to a casino, but there she meets a sheik, Ferdy Mayne, who pays off the cabbie to leave and offers to make her part of his harem.

Nan Lee is hired by a rich woman who lives in a country estate. She hired Nan Lee to look after Rupert (Julian Barnes) who is a piano prodigy, but is otherwise a little... I guess sheltered would be one way of describing it. Creepy is another way to go. While he's in his 20s, it's clear he never developed emotionally past childhood and his mother has hired Nan Lee not as an au pair, but as a companion. Again, creepy.

Finally there's Christa, who is hired by the Fairfax family, which includes a daughter, Carole (Lyn Yeldham), who is about the same age. Carole's not happy that she has to stay at home and effectively babysit the au pair, because she wants to go to a rock concert by Ricky Strange. Her mother tells her she can't leave Christa alone, so Carole decides instead to take her to the rock concert. But first, they have to go shopping to get some party clothes. It seems like Carole is just being nice to Christa, but we soon learn that she's planning on giving Christa's virginity to Ricky Strange as a gift. Have I already used the word creepy?

The first two stories in Au Pair Girls are just a mixture of weak jokes and plentiful nudity. How bad is the humor? Have you seen any of the films in the Carry On... franchise? It's like the filmmakers wanted to make a Benny Hill movie but instead of hiring writers to write jokes, they just included naked ladies. The dialogue and the jokes are corny, cheesy, cornball, choose your own synonym and add it to the list. However, while they are corny, they are for the most part fun.

The second two stories are a lot darker and this adversely affected the overall tone of the movie. A mother hiring a prostitute to be with her son would be bad enough, but hiring an au pair, a foreign woman who barely speaks the language and has nowhere to turn, is an extra level. The final story is arguably even worse on that level. A sex farce should be funny, not sleazy and especially not depressing.

The Extras

There are no extras on the Blu-ray. Also, as one might expect for a nearly 40-year old movie, the video quality is mixed. The film is soft without a lot of fine details, especially in shadows. The colors are better. There is print damage, but nothing that's too distracting. There are no compression artifacts or digital manipulation, on the other hand. The audio is mono, so don't expect anything from your surround sound speakers. Additionally, the audio is a little tinny and there is a hiss. Then again, it is nearly 40 years old, so this is to be expected. The Blu-ray costs $18, which is inline with a film like this. It is a niche market film, after all.

The Verdict

Au Pair Girls reminds me of the Schoolgirl Report franchise, which was a German film series made about the same time. Each movie has a series of vignettes that were purportedly based on real interviews. (I have no way to prove or disprove that claim.) Some of them are cute and funny, while some were dark and almost a warning against the dangers of sex. At least they had an excuse for the shift in tones, because they were trying to be realistic. Au Pair Girls doesn't have the same excuse. The filmmakers should have just make Benny Hill skits with actual nudity instead of implied nudity. On the other hand, if you are a fan of this type of film, or want to see what was thought of as risque 40 years ago, then the Blu-ray is worth checking out. Without extras, I'm not willing to recommend purchasing over renting.

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Filed under: Video Review, Au Pair Girls