Stacey (1973)

Stacey is a fun little movie and it pains me that it is considered lost. A VHS quality copy can be found on the Internet Archive and a welcome preservation, however, at this moment in time it is safe to say a good looking Blu-Ray is off the cards unfortunately.

I honestly did not expect to enjoy Stacey as much as I did, thinking it would be a ropey, low budget, 70’s erotic thriller, however it has a pretty decent story that can hold one’s attention. There are some fun performances from the, mostly, talented cast. An exciting and lengthy chase sequence that really keeps the movie interesting at just the right moment. There are slaps of comedy, a little romance and most importantly, the nudity does not feel as exploitative as it could have. In fact there isn’t very much nudity at all, this might disappoint some, however, it relies on fun and thrills to keep the audience’s attention. It’s an interesting picture.

Stacey is a private detective, a buxom blonde who races cars in her spare time. She dates an airline pilot and isn’t the type to jump between the sheets when he isn’t around, a refreshing attitude for the type of film most expect this to be. Handed an invite to a big house in the hills, Stacey is employed by an elderly lady to dig up the dirt on her family to see who is the most worthy heir to her fortune. Stacey gets to know the son and daughter and becomes embroiled in a deadly plot that involves extortion, murder and hippies.

Stacey is played by Anne Randall, an ex-Playboy playmate who gives a surprisingly good performance and brings a relaxed and fun approach to the role. A narration covers the fast moving plot and it’s refreshing to hear Anne’s delivery throughout the story. Breaking stereotypes, her boyfriend never rushes to her rescue as Stacey is more than capable of looking after herself. Anne keeps her clothes on for most of the film, with only a couple of scenes requiring short bursts of nudity. Anne has pretty good chemistry with her co-stars and becomes a very likeable lead.

Elsewhere, the Elderly lady, played by Marjorie Bennett gives a standard performance and doesn’t really sit out as anything special. Anitra Ford plays her daughter-in-law, a minx who gets away with too much. Her husband, Stewart Moss, has a smaller amount of screen time, yet carries more of the drama as the story develops. Cristina Raines is a younger sister of Moss and manages one of the stronger performances of the film, in her debut. 

James Westmoreland plays the chauffeur and whilst he occupies a fairly large role, he barely stands out and comes across as a little bland. Westmoreland, better known as Rad Fulton, perhaps was not fussed about appearing in the film as he doesn’t mention Stacey in his online memoir. Eddie Ryder pops up in a couple of scenes as Rodney and gives an incredibly likeable performance. Alan Landers plays Stacey’s pilot boyfriend who comes along for the adventure.

Sidaris really excels at capturing the action, given his background in live sport telecasting, he keeps the frame busy and fast moving. The opening race footage and lengthy action sequence in the latter half of the movie are easily the high lights with some impressive foot, car and helicopter action. A shootout in a car park, judging by onlookers, feels unplanned and perhaps without the required permits, however, Sidaris still manages to keep it exciting.

Another little detail I enjoyed was the score. There is a song written for the title called Stacey by Don Randi and sung by Pete Willcox. Some of the rifts from the song are used frequently throughout the film. Whilst the crooning is a little unnecessary over the opening credits and race montage the music strongly elevates the film. 

There are a few faces if you are familiar with Sidaris’ filmography that pop up in his subsequent movies. However, Stacey, like Seven, is not regarded as part of the L.e.t.h.a.l. Ladies‘ series. Stacey is instead related to the series as the main story was the basis for Malibu Express. Of note, the version of Stacey I tracked down did not have end credits, instead the film leaps into a trailer for a film called Julia. Stacey is a pretty good flick and I’m surprised that I liked it as much as I did. Certainly, it has warts all over as Sidaris was finding his way into movie making, yet it’s a fairly impressive debut and elusive existence makes it much more of an enticing curiosity.

Stacey has a number of different posters that originally capture the feel of the movie. Later posters and covers might lead to disappointment for those expecting a more raunchy approach. Curiously, the Italian release “la porno detective” lists a cast that does not appear in the film. A little research found that Rosanne Keaton was to play the elderly Florence and Di Tota playing Rodney. This might have been the actors not wanting their names associated with a title such as it had in Italy as there is no listing for actors Keaton or Di Tota. Alan Lander appears to be a typo as his surname is Landers.

Remade as Malibu Express (1985)
Remade as Malibu Express (1985)

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