Thursday, November 13, 2014
SALON KITTY (1976) - Tinto Brass
& STALAG 17 (1953) - Billy Wilder
You probably won't find Salon Kitty and Stalag 17 paired very often in a WWII-focused film festival or Nazi-themed retrospective. If video stores still existed, you'd be hard pressed to find them on the same aisle. One's a comedy in the Hogan's Heroes vein by one of the all time great American émigré directors. The other, a sexploitation film by the Italian guy who directed Caligula. One takes place in a raucous German prison of war camp, the other in a racey SS cabaret-brothel. They do both contain Nazis and Nazi intrigue, but you'd guess the similarities end there. You'd mostly be right, except for the fact that both venues are BUGGED. Clandestine surveillance within the German high command...that is their link.
In Salon Kitty, Nazi officer Wallenberg (Helmut Berger) recruits the most comely and willing National Socialist nymphs from all over Deutschland and installs them as working girls in a Berlin brothel, Salon Kitty. In this brothel, the "love rooms" happen to be crawling with wall-to-wall wiretaps. Wallenberg's not looking to get vicarious jollies so much as to ferret out reluctant Nazis, those not fully converted to the Fuhrer's cause. When his number one girl Margherita (Teresa Ann Savoy) falls for a soldier with divided loyalties, Wallenberg has him killed, only to have Margherita undertake her own private wiretapping experiment on the voyeur officer to get revenge.
The clandestine surveillance in Stalag 17 is slightly less technologically savvy. It involves a chess piece (don't touch that Queen!) with a removable top in which notes can be passed that alert the German officers at a POW camp about American plans to escape or revolt. Everyone thinks it's William Holden who is the Nazi stool pigeon. It's not. Put it this way: Have you ever seen Airplane? Have you ever seen a grown man naked? Do you like movies with gladiators, Joey?
Hmm. Maybe these two flicks have more in common than I thought.