The Masterpiece (1969)

How can we tell the people behind “The Masterpiece” know their movie is dull? Because the entire female half of the cast spends more time in the nude than they do fully clothed.

Not that I’m complaining too much. All of the actresses in “Masterpiece” are gorgeous, all of them look stunning in their birthday suits, and all of them are welcome distractions to the hackneyed storytelling happening all around them.

Even though “The Masterpiece” is a mere 63 minutes long, it feels a lot longer because the threadbare plot is thinner than the scruples of its starlets. Reminiscent of, but nowhere near the caliber of, “Sunset Boulevard,” “The Masterpiece” also begins with the death of a character and then flashes back to show how he ended up that way.

In “The Masterpiece,” the killer is big-time Hollywood actress Norma Sands (see, totally different from “Sunset’s” Norma Desmond), played by Elizabeth Knowles, who murders the director of her latest picture in the opening scene. The rest of the film, all 60 minutes of it, detail how Norma became so psychotic as she explains her side of things to another actor she has just finished boffing.

The “whydunit” portion of “The Masterpiece” is not all that compelling, but it is bizarrely fascinating to watch director Lee Van Horn shamelessly shoehorn topless women into the story every chance that he gets. One dumb bunny introduces herself to another character by lifting up her shirt. Huh? There’s a pool scene where two women are wearing bikinis merely so they have something to remove. And there is a impromptu dance-off at a studio wrap party where two actresses shamelessly drop trou for reasons that defy explanation.

The male actors, most of whom also strip down to their boxer briefs, are too fat and hairy for the sex scenes to be considered sexy. Likewise, Norma’s victim, a sleazy director named Ramon Wellman who gets his kicks by filming himself banging starlets, is so slimy and gross that you actually end up siding with Norma in the end.

Rated: X for graphic nudity and brief, bloody violence

Director: Lee Van Horn

Starring: Elizabeth Knowles, Forman Shane

★½ (out of ★★★★)


Categories: 1960s

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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