Russell had a lifelong yen for the well-educated working girl. Here, he pits his moonlighting call girl's considerable sexual and rhetorical talents against an unhappily married man (John Laughlin) and a raving street preacher (Anthony Perkins) prone to popper-fueled fire and brimstone soliloquies. It's a familiar stand-off in the Russell universe--youthful sex straining at the bonds of complacency, Old Testament religion. Guess who wins in the end? This battle tap-dances on the edge of satire, many of the sequences purposely theatrical, stagebound, amped to the absurd. The old Russell obsessions work just as nicely in this neon Hollywood gutter as they do in pages of high literature. It seems like the product of brilliantly deranged, syphilitic mind.
You know the movie's a keeper when you stick around for the DVD commentary (a rarity for me, these days). Here are a few easter eggs that Russell drops along the way...
- On Perkins' authenticity: "The amyl nitrate was real."
- On the casting of Kathleen Turner: "It wasn't based on Body Heat, but The Man With Two Brains. I thought she had a better sense of comedy than the other leading fellow (i.e., Steve Martin)."
- On the score: "The flute mirrors every drop of urine from his penis. Which was six...six drops."