The Hostess Also Likes to Blow the Horn

The 1970 German sex comedy The Hostess Also Likes to Blow the Horn may have one of the greatest, all-time cheekiest titles of its under-respected sub-genre. A pleasure, then, that the film — a good-natured mix of ribald set-up, mock-offended patter and solid setting and production design — delivers on its promise, delivering an adult-themed tale that doesn't aim to merely achieve blush at any cost.

Directed by Franz Antel, aka Francois Legrand, The Hostess... is set in Europe in 1814, against a backdrop in which soldiers scour the countryside for provisions both material and carnal. The story centers around bombshell redhead Justine Del Ber (Teri Tordai), a traveling French actress who thinks on her feet and escapes a sticky situation along with Ferdinand (Harald Leipnitz), a fellow actor. Together, they flee into the countryside, and seek refuge in the small burgh of Tursa. Overseen by the moralistic Baron Bierrechalet (Jacques Herlin) and his Committee of Decency, Tursa has taxes for everything — fornication, dancing, singing, drinking, bathing and even "previously lost virginity." Plenty of people don't like it, but seem powerless to overthrow the current system of governance.

Justine, though, has other plans. She and Ferdinand take possession of a local inn, change its name to The Innocent Lamb, and set it up as a mock-convent — a gathering place for everyone sick of the government's incursion into their private lives. Ferdinand saves young Marika (Andrea Rau) from the roving hands of the Baron's lackey, and give her a position as chambermaid, and before long The Innocent Lamb is the hottest spot in town. While the Baron tries to find a noblewoman to marry, and consolidate his power, Justine and Ferdinand try to assist in the return of Count Valeriano Trenk (Glenn Saxson), the rightful heir to the area, who currently lives in Vienna. Later, Justine works up a scheme to trap the mayor in his own web of taxable behavior.

Co-written by Carlo Fuscagni and Kurt Nachmann, The Hostess... indulges in the sort of wild theatricality one might imagine, and is also powered by tongue-lolling, wolfish dialogue (sample: “I’ll let your britches down, but not you!”) that one can easily imagine in little thought bubbles alongside R. Crumb cartoons. Yet it also drops reference to the historical stageplay The Innkeeper, and generally does a good job blending behavioral comedy with a smidgen of historical satire. In fact, there aren't many sex scenes, per se; most of the nudity is just a result of private behavior momentarily publicly exposed, and the bulk of it comes late in the movie, when Justine slips the Baron an elixir and rigs an "emperor's new clothes"-type scenario. The cast is uniformly winning, and the production value fairly high, which helps mitigate some questionable visual framing. Rosalba Neri, Poldo Bendandi, Paul Lowinger and Paola Arduini also star.

Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case, The Hostess Also Likes to Blow the Horn comes presented in anamorphic widescreen, with optional English subtitles and a motion-animated menu screen. Its only legitimate supplemental feature, however, is a 31-photo, self-playing slide show of production stills; some sort of historical contextualization, in the form of cast member/crew interviews or talking head analysis, is sadly lacking. Nevertheless, to purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here; to purchase via Half, click here. B (Movie) D+ (Disc)


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