Directed by: Donovan Winter
Actors: Maria O’Brien, David Dixon, Helen Christie
Also known as: All Lovers Are Strangers, Koritsia gia idiaiteres synantiseis
Description: I’ve been happily surprised by how interesting and enjoyable I find the films of Donovan Winter (Deadly Females), not because I expected less, but rather because I didn’t know what to expect at all, aside from whatever one expects from exploitation fare. I came across Escort Girls a few weeks back, and quickly discovered I already had two other Winter films in my video collection that I had been ignoring. I watched all three films over the same weekend, and found them deeply satisfying. Escort Girls contains a series of interwoven vignettes about the exploits of various paid escorts and their dates on a specific Christmas Eve in London. These vignettes are apparently designed to reveal the loneliness and shallowness of the characters they portray. Because it is Christmas, most of the escortees are by necessity outsiders in the city. We’re given two Americans, a Welshman, and couple of Scottish dudes thrown in for good measure. The characterizations are unflattering yet more or less engaging.
The sexual encounters that occur in Escort Girls are decidely unglamorous – I can think of few people who would find them titillating. There is, however, an incredibly hot striptease act — apparently Donovan wants to show us that real sex rarely measures up to our fantasies about it. Well, okay. There is also a bit about the evils of racial stereotyping which seems all well and good and heavy-handed (and pretty standard for the era, I guess), but Donovan’s insights into social awareness don’t seem to extend as readily into gender relations, or the plight of the film’s two hapless Scots, who are portrayed here as brutish and stingy.
Perhaps what I find most interesting about Escort Girls is what it shows us of early 1970s London and its people. The film is low budget enough to have a documentary quality, and I just can’t get enough of that sort of thing.