Carol Doda Topless at the Condor

DIGITAL REVIEW:

Vertical;
Documentary;
Rated ‘R’ for nudity/graphic nudity throughout, some sexual material, language and drug content.
Featuring Carol Doda, Polly Mazza, Jimi Mamou, Philip DerDevanis, Charlie Farrugia, Pete Mattioli, Art Thanash, Mike Boone, Judy Mac, Sarah Thornton, Wednesday Martin, Larry Nelson.

She was the Silicon Valley’s Queen of Silicone. Those familiar with Stephen Sondheim’s Gypsy know that “You Gotta Have a Gimmick” is a stripper’s motto to live by. The rise to fame of San Francisco’s Carol Doda began its peak atop a grand piano, hydraulically descending from a hole in the Condor Club’s ceiling. She bore the dubious distinction of being America’s original topless dancer. Doda knew the best way to get into show business was by showing her business. From the moment she hired on as a waitress at the Condor, Doda, determined to stand out, wore a distinctive white leotard, which set her apart from the other black-clad servers. A trend setter in the field of breast augmentation, she was the first in her field to balloon from a size 34 to 44. Her enduring fame in the city’s history books make her a fascinating historical footnote nonetheless. Marlo McKenzie and Jonathan Parker’s Carol Doda Topless at the Condor cements her legendary status as a pioneer in the world of striptease, but her portrayal as a feminist icon is overstated.

Doda launched the topless craze with what she called “tasteful nudity.” Prior to her bursting onto the scene, a stripper’s life was all about pasties and tassels. And only a gutter tramp would be caught dead wearing bikinis. Suddenly, nipples became the talk of the town. Avant-garde fashion designer Rudy Gernreich revolutionized swimwear in 1964 with his iconic one piece “monokini.” Described on the late designer’s website as “a full, high-waisted bottom with two signature graphic straps,” sales initially topped 3,000 suits. (You can take one tonight home for the low price of $140 S&H included.) For all this talk of a string bikini revolution, I don’t recall one monokini ever washing up on the shore of my neighborhood beach.

What a pivotal moment in American history! The Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement were dominating the national conversation. At the same time, the second Republican National Convention ever held on the West Coast was also taking place in San Francisco, drawing attention to the city alongside Doda’s striptease performances. (Republican nominee Barry Goldwater’s two sons were in town and natural curiosity drew them to the club.) Condor Club publicist “Big” Davy Rosenberg presented Doda with one of Gernreich’s skimpy concoctions. The country had more to contend with than tits, yet the unveiling of Doda’s licorice-strapped monokini on June 19, 1964 — a day that will live in infamy — marked a turning point in the cultural zeitgeist, as it sparked a frenzy of fascination and debate about the boundaries of modesty and morality.

Carol Doda Topless at the Condor is more than just another “talking heads” documentary. Archival footage trumps eyewitness testimony every time, and one guesses enough vintage file footage exists to fill another 10 documentaries. Add to this choice rock ‘n roll lore featuring George ‘n Teddy, Bobby Freeman and Sly Stone, a mess of mob anecdotes, and fossilized first-hand testimonials — what is it about the aging process in male strip club owners that causes heads to shrink with age leaving toupees and Sharpie-dyed mustaches to balloon to outlandish proportions? —  all woven together to reveal a fascinating glimpse into a heretofore relatively dark corner of sexual culture.

Drama ‘Prisoner’s Daughter’ Due on Blu-ray and DVD Sept. 19 From Distribution Solutions

Vertical’s drama Prisoner’s Daughter will be released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Sept. 19 from Distribution Solutions.

In the film, released from prison with terminal cancer, Max tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter and the grandson he’s never known. When his daughter’s abusive, drug-addicted ex-husband reappears, Max’s violent past comes back to haunt them all. 

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Directed by Sundance Film Festival Award-Winner Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Lords of Dogtown, Thirteen), the film stars Kate Beckinsale (The Widow, “Underworld” franchise, Love & Friendship), Brian Cox (“Succession,” Churchill, The Bourne Identity), Christopher Convery (Pinball: The Man Who Saved the Game, Brahms: The Boy II, The Girl in the Spider’s Web) and Jon Huertas (“This Is Us,” “The Rookie,” “Elementary”). 

Robert De Niro Actioner ‘Savage Salvation’ Headed to DVD and Blu-ray Feb. 14 From Vertical and Distribution Solutions

The Robert De Niro actioner Savage Salvation will be released on DVD and Blu-ray Feb. 14 from Vertical Entertainment and Distribution Solutions.

In the film, after his fiancée dies of an overdose, a recovering addict (Jack Huston) embarks on a vengeful killing spree, hunting down the drug dealers before the town sheriff (De Niro) puts an end to his vigilante justice.

In addition to Huston (“Fargo,” American Hustle, “Boardwalk Empire”) and De Niro (Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Cape Fear), the film stars John Malkovitch (Dangerous Liaisons, Being John Malkovitch, “Space Force”) and Willa Fitzgerald (18½, The Goldfinch,“Scream: The TV Series”).

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Vertical Crime Actioner ‘The System’ Due on DVD and Blu-ray Jan. 3 From Distribution Solutions

The crime actioner The System will be released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc Jan. 3 from Vertical Entertainment and Distribution Solutions. 

In the film, when a young soldier newly returned from war gets caught up in a drug bust, he is recruited by the authorities to go undercover in a notoriously dangerous prison in order to figure out what is really going on.

The film stars Tyrese Gibson, Jeremy Piven, Terrence Howard and Lil Yachty.

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Bruce Willis Crime Thriller ‘Wrong Place’ Headed to DVD and Blu-ray Sept. 20

The crime thriller Wrong Place, starring Bruce Willis, will be released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc Sept. 20 from Vertical Entertainment and Distribution Solutions.

In the film, Frank, a former police chief, is hunted down by a meth kingpin seeking to silence him before he can deliver eyewitness testimony against his family. Ultimately, the kingpin finds himself up against more than he thought when he threatens to harm Frank’s daughter.

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In addition to Willis (Die Hard, Armageddon), the film stars Ashley Greene (the “Twilight” saga, Bombshell), Texas Battle (Final Destination 3, Coach Carter) and Michael Sirow (Survive the Game, Fortress), and is directed by Mike Burns.

Vertical’s Alicia Silverstone Thriller ‘Last Survivors’ Due on DVD April 26 From Distribution Solutions

Vertical Entertainment’s Alica Silverstone thriller Last Survivors will be released on DVD April 26 from Distribution Solutions.

In the science-fiction thriller, a father and son, who have been living off grid for 20 years, encounter an outsider who threatens to destroy the utopia they’ve built.

Directed by Drew Mylrea and written by Josh Janowicz, the film also stars Drew Van Acker and Stephen Moyer.

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Naomi Watts Thriller ‘The Desperate Hour’ Due on Disc April 19 From Vertical and Distribution Solutions

The thriller The Desperate Hour will be released on DVD and Blu-ray April 19 from Vertical and Distribution Solutions.

Unfolding in real time, the thriller, directed by Phillip Noyce, follows recently widowed mother Amy Carr (Naomi Watts), who is doing her best to restore normalcy to the lives of her young daughter and teenage son in their small town. As she’s on a jog in the woods, she finds her town thrown into chaos as a shooting takes place at her son’s school. Miles away, on foot in the dense forest, Amy desperately races against time to save her son.

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Distribution Solutions in Physical Media Partnership With Vertical

Distribution Solutions, a division of Alliance Entertainment, has entered into a physical media partnership with domestic distributor Vertical Entertainment.

Distribution Solutions will handle trade marketing, procurement, warehousing, inventory management, VMI systems and management, returns processing, credit and collections, and reporting of Vertical physical sellthrough releases in the United States and Canada, and will work hand-in-hand with Vertical partner Mitch Budin, according to Distribution Solutions.

“Partnering with Vertical Entertainment is very exciting for us,” Distribution Solutions president Ben Means said in a statement. “They bring an impressive catalog of over 300 films that we look forward to putting on shelves to maximize the success of their physical releases.”

Notable films from Vertical include Out of Death (starring Bruce Willis) available on DVD and Blu-ray Sept. 14 under the agreement, Joe Bell (starring Mark Wahlberg), Four Good Days (starring Glenn Close and Mila Kunis), Capone (starring Tom Hardy, Linda Cardellini, and Matt Dillon) and Ava (starring Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell).

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“We are incredibly pleased to be collaborating with Distribution Solutions on our future projects,” Budin said in a statement. “Ben and the DS team have built a first-class organization and we look forward to working with them to further our footprint in the marketplace.”

‘Ava,’ ‘Antebellum’ Top Vudu, FandangoNow Charts

The actioner Ava topped the Vudu chart while the premium VOD release Antebellum again topped the FandangoNow chart for the week ended Oct. 4.

Both are transactional video-on-demand services owned by Fandango.

Vertical Entertainment’s action film Ava, starring Jessica Chastain, became available for TVOD Sept. 25. It follows a deadly assassin who works for a black ops organization, traveling the globe specializing in high-profile hits. When a job goes wrong, she is forced to fight for her own survival. It came in at No. 2 on the FandangoNow chart.

From Lionsgate and QC Entertainment — the producer of Get Out and Us Antebellum stars Janelle Monáe in a thriller about a successful author who finds herself trapped in a horrifying reality. It fell from No. 1 to No. 2 on the Vudu chart for the week.

Lionsgate’s The Secret: Dare to Dream, which became available for digital sale Sept. 15 after a PVOD run, took the No. 3 spot on the Vudu chart and landed at No. 6 on the FandangoNow chart. The dramatic romance stars Katie Holmes and Josh Lucas and is based on the best-selling book The Secret.

Taking the bronze on the FandangoNow chart and coming in at No. 5 on the Vudu chart was the Magnolia Pictures thriller Alone, about a killer who hunts a widow in the wilderness after she escapes from his remote cabin.

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Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Oct. 4, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Ava
  2. Antebellum
  3. The Secret: Dare to Dream
  4. Bill & Ted Face the Music
  5. Alone
  6. Hocus Pocus
  7. 2067
  8. Beetlejuice
  9. The Tax Collector
  10. Mama

 

FandangoNow’s top 10 titles for the week ended Oct. 4, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Antebellum
  2. Ava
  3. Alone
  4. Bill & Ted Face the Music
  5. Then Came You
  6. The Secret: Dare to Dream
  7. Welcome to Sudden Death
  8. Death of Me
  9. The Tax Collector
  10. The King of Staten Island

‘Antebellum’ Again Tops Vudu, FandangoNow Charts

The premium VOD release Antebellum again topped both the Vudu and FandangoNow charts for the week ended Sept. 27.

Both are transactional video-on-demand services owned by Fandango.

From Lionsgate and QC Entertainment — the producer of Get Out and Us — Antebellum stars Janelle Monáe in a thriller about a successful author who finds herself trapped in a horrifying reality.

Taking the silver on both charts was Vertical Entertainment’s action film Ava, starring Jessica Chastain, which became available for TVOD Sept. 25. It follows Ava, a deadly assassin who works for a black ops organization, traveling the globe specializing in high profile hits. When a job goes wrong, she is forced to fight for her own survival.

Lionsgate’s The Secret: Dare to Dream, which became available for digital sale Sept. 15 after a PVOD run, took the No. 3 spot on the Vudu chart and landed at No. 5 on the FandangoNow chart. The dramatic romance stars Katie Holmes and Josh Lucas and is based on the best-selling book The Secret.

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Meanwhile, Bill & Ted Face the Music, the third installment in the iconic comedy series starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, took the bronze on the FandangoNow chart and came in at No. 4 on the Vudu chart.

Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Sept. 27, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Antebellum
  2. Ava
  3. The Secret: Dare to Dream
  4. Bill & Ted Face the Music
  5. Alone
  6. The Secret Garden
  7. The Tax Collector
  8. The King of Staten Island
  9. Superman: Man of Tomorrow
  10. The Owners

 

FandangoNow’s top 10 titles for the week ended Sept. 27, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Antebellum
  2. Ava
  3. Bill & Ted Face the Music
  4. Alone
  5. The Secret: Dare to Dream
  6. The Tax Collector
  7. The King of Staten Island
  8. Blackbird
  9. Beckman
  10. No Escape