The Stewardesses (1969) NSFW – Review

Before the internet brought porn into millions of homes people actually had to go out to the theatre to see women frolic around in the nude while having wild sexual encounters Behind a Green Door or dealing with such medical problems as being Insatiable or performing Deep Throat. In the late 60s and on into the 70s feature length pornographic films were big business and with films like the aforementioned Behind the Green Door with Marylyn Chambers and Deep Throat with Linda Lovelace the “porno chic” boom was launched with quite a financial reward.  Now arriving just ahead of this wave of movies was the 1969 film The Stewardesses, which had the added bonus of being in 3D because producer, writer and director Al Silliman Jr hoped that even though his film was not all that hardcore or explicit adding the 3D gimmick would boost box office sales, and he was right.

Though The Stewardesses is a softcore sex flick, thus focusing more on nudity and not explicit shots of people’s junk doing the nasty, but that didn’t stop it from having the same lack of plot as about 99% of porno movies out there; the pizza delivery boy will always be bringing extra sausage and as the title of this movie denotes a bunch of “sexy” stewardesses are going spend the next ninety minutes participating in all kinds of sexual shenanigans.

Only this time out the sex will be “Coming right at you!”

There is no plot to The Stewardesses, being more a collection of sexual vignettes than any kind of story, as we follow this particular group of trans-pacific stewardesses to see how each of them spends their layover time getting laid. The movie opens with Wendy Blake (Janet Wass) getting a solid rogering in a motel room while one of her fellow flight attendants bangs on the door to inform her they have a flight to catch. Meanwhile studmuffin of the skies Captain Brad Masters (William Condos) suits up for a day of flying the friendly skies while stewardess Samantha Howard (Christina Hart) tries some perfume at one of the airport gift shops. This is all of course done in glorious 3D and for the most part it is rather impressive, technically that is, and the relatively lightweight and portable design of a single-strip 3-D camera that this movie used would later go on to film an even goofier picture.

Note: Nudity in 3D works better than the bad shark effects in Jaws 3D.

We get to meet the rest of our cast of characters once we board the plane as stewardess Wendy starts hitting on a soldier who will be heading overseas to fight in Vietnam soon and we have Captain Masters screwing one of the new stewardesses in the cockpit, and he is such a colossal asshat that he leaves the cabin mic on so that all the passengers can hear them fucking. The passengers all seem rather amused by this instead of being offended and I take this for it being the sixties and “Free Love” was everywhere. The poor girl then has to do the Slut Walk of Shame past all these passengers who are probably all wondering when they get their mile high club gift cards punched.

“Coffee, tea or me?”

Next we are introduced to Colin Winthrop (Ronald South), an ad exec who is working on a huge marketing campaign, and Samantha immediately sets her goals on this dude as she has dreams of becoming an actress. The problem is that Colin has some deep dark personal issues of his own, ones that even Don Draper of Mad Men would have considered to be rather fucked up. Films of this type often start out as a fun and lite sex romp but would then switch to much darker turn at the end, and this film does of a doozy of a dark ending, but before we get to those heavy moments we must suffer through some of the bizarrest dalliances ever.

As one who just missed 60s I like to imagine this is how everyone lived.

The film then proceeds to bounce back and forth between our girls as they venture off into the City of Angels for some much needed R&R. Head Stewardess Jo Peters (Anita de Moulin) invites fellow stewardess Cathy Harris (Kathy Ferrick) back to her beach house for some of that ever important relaxing, Cathy of course not being completely aware that Jo has more intimate form of relaxing on her mind.

Question: Is it legally a porno if there isn’t a lesbian scene?

Stewardess Annie (Donna Stanley) doesn’t go clubbing with her co-workers, or even hook-up with one of the passengers on her flight, which going by this film seems to be the main reason to be a stewardess, but instead she goes home where she lives with her parents. Tina finds a note from her parents stating that they have gone on a trip so Tina thinks to herself, “Whole place to myself, maybe I could take a trip to.” And once again because this is the 60s this means Tina is going to partake in some LSD. This leads to if not the most sexually graphic scene in the movie easily the weirdest as Lisa drops some acid, gets naked, takes a shower (is a gratuitous shower scene gratuitous if it’s in a porn?) and then when the acid finally kicks in she proceeds to make love to a kitschy lamp that has a Grecian head for a base.

At least this lamp has more of a charming personality than Captain Masters.

It’s at this point that the film goes into full 3D gimmick mode as pool cues and panty shots attack the audience in a painfully long montage of “frolicking” as we get Brad Masters, lover at large, and the stewardesses hitting the club scene, hustling pool, and then getting down to the important sexual encounters. As in most porn films the key ingredient is sex and nudity, that this film was shot in 3D does not change that priority one iota and aside from the boobs and legs popping out of the screen the “story” structure remains consistent with its porn contemporaries. The men mostly stay full clothed, not that I’m complaining, while the women drop their dresses at the slightest provocation, and the sex is abundant. Our cast of female characters are free spirited sexual beings and the men are mostly thoughtless pigs, with maybe the exception of the soldier being sent off to war who takes Wendy to the carnival before the requited sexing up.

“I could die over there…so does that get me anal?”

There isn’t much meat to these types of stories, the target audience not really caring either way, but then as we get deeper into the character of Colin the ad exec, who Samantha desperately wants to get a lucrative acting contract from, things take a decidedly nasty turn. We learn that Colin started out in the mail room of his company and that his boss considered it the “Male Room” for which he forced his employees into acts of homosexuality to advance their careers. This deeply scarred Colin and he has since vowed to sexually destroy whatever woman he chooses for his final ad campaign. Yeah, that’s not fucked up at all. Not to get deeper into spoilers here but needless to say things don’t go well for either Samantha or Colin.

The Stewardesses has some nice 3D photography, I especially enjoyed the rollercoaster footage at the carnival, but it’s very fragmented nature never really allows one to connect to the characters and Samantha’s tragic tale doesn’t seem earned at all. What the film did earn was a shit ton of money as it grossed between $25 and $30 million dollars on a $100 thousand dollar budget, this made The Stewardesses one of the top grossing films of 1969, and until James Cameron’s Avatar came along it was the most profitable 3D film. For a 60s sexploitation film shot in the 3D you certainly get what you pay for with The Stewardesses, and as a look at the morals and sensibilities of the time it is an interesting snapshot of the period and worth checking out.

Mike Brooks

Mike Brooks

Film grad who spends most his time trying to catch up on his "To Watch" pile of movies.