Lube Job: Garage Girls (1980)

Dave opts for a full service in Gary Graver’s XXX tale of female mechanics.

It’s a well-beaten drum within these pages, that of the one hundred and thirteen X-rated films that Gary Graver directed, the best were the twenty made between 1975 and 1984. Granted, there’s the occasional diamond such as Black & White in Living Color (1992), which saw the momentous union of generations old and new, with Graver giving a debut to (soon to be porno hall-of-famer) Michael Ninn, but the Golden Age was exactly that.

Moving from the incest-laden artistry of 3AM (1975) to a satire on wealth and inequality in Society Affairs (1982) by way of the Bunuel-riffing V’: The Hot One (1979), Graver never shied away from adding layers of wit and influence to what could have easily been cookie cutter blue movies. Having said that, he wasn’t hesitant towards the meat and two veg of films like GARAGE GIRLS.

“We’re mechanics! The first of our kind! An all-girl garage!”

Clad only in navy dungarees, this quartet of beauties (Lisa De Leeuw, Chris Cassidy, Dorothy LeMay and Brooke West) represent a rather modest entry in the canon of ‘Robert McCallum’, but it’s still a hugely enjoyable one at that. Graver, directing from his own script, sets up a barrage of knuckle-dragging chauvinism for the girls to contend with from a long line of cynical customers, and they’re also faced with their business being sabotaged by a disgruntled and disguised member of the public.

Slapstick lines the spine of the movie, of which the highlight is a superb riff on Bonnie & Clyde. Shot like a sequence from a Mack Sennett movie, it even features Graver himself, clad in a beret, attempting to manoeuvre a priceless Picasso painting across a road – to which clumsy hilarity inevitably wins out.

Georgina Spelvin (The Ecstasy Girls (1979)) pops up briefly as a school teacher on a broken down bus, while John Leslie (Co-Ed Fever (1980)) has a refreshingly subtle role as good-natured local cop Aloysius Duke. However, they’re both outshone by a deliciously filthy (and fantastically funny) patron played by John Seeman (Champagne for Breakfast (1980)), who, waiting for his vehicle to be fixed, opts to read aloud the dirty stories from a jazz mag in order to make the mechanics feel a little uncomfortable. It doesn’t. It just makes them horny. But credit to whoever kitted the place out, as they have a huge open-plan (and four-headed) shower room to rinse away their flirtations and frustrations.

Hijinks aside, when the inevitable prankster is unmasked (who turns out to be none other than Graver stalwart Jean Clark playing ‘Leonard’, the same character he played in Texas Lightning (1981)), he delivers an engrossing monologue on his fear for the erosion of a male dominated society. It’s a double-take moment that largely comes out of the blue. However, as you begin to process what you’ve just seen, you appreciate the subtle undercurrent of social commentary that Graver weaves throughout Garage Girls. Yes – it is slight – but it’s also an insightful look at gender roles from an industry where you least expect it.

USA ● 1980 ● Adult, Comedy ● 79mins

Lisa De Leeuw, Chris Cassidy, Dorothy LeMay, Brooke West, John Leslie ● Dir. Gary Graver (as Robert McCallum) ● Wri. Gary Graver (as Robert McCallum)

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