Career Bed (1969) Poster

(1969)

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An Awfully Fun If Naughty Little Gem
Michael_Elliott5 January 2018
Career Bed (1969)

*** (out of 4)

Mrs. Potter (Honey Hunter) decides that her daughter Susan (Jennifer Welles) must become a famous star no matter what. Mommy is willing to sell her own body to open the right doors for her daughter but she's also willing to make her daughter do whatever it takes to make it big.

Joel M. Reed will always be remember for his notorious BLOODSUCKING FREAKS but there's no question that this film, the second he would direct, is his best one. CAREER BED is in the sexploitation genre where filmmakers throughout New York City were filming quick movies with small budgets hoping that they'd make some sort of impact down on 42nd Street. CAREER BED isn't the dirtiest movie from the genre and it doesn't feature the most violence but it is certainly among the best that was ever made due to how dirty it is.

I mean, the story of a mother pimping herself out and then forcing her daughter to do whatever these perverted men and women wants is just something that was perfect for this genre. There were countless exploitation pictures were a naive person ends up in the big bad city but there's something about a mother forcing her daughter to do these things. There are some really weird and bizarre scenes here including right off the bat when the mother seduces her daughter's future husband just so that she'll leave him!

The film basically has the mother and daughter going through one door after another, which means one creep after another. I really loved the way Reed's dark view of filmmaking leaks through and I must admit that he really did create a very good movie here. Being able to see New York City as it once was is a major plus but it's the storyline that really sells the movie. Another major plus is that Welles and Hunter are so beautiful that it just adds to the sexuality of the story.

CAREER BED isn't as well-known as BLOODSUCKING FREAKS. It's easy to see why that film gets all the press considering what's in it but this one here deserves a lot more attention.
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Campy porn, worthy of the Charles Ludlam or Charles Busch treatment
lor_6 December 2010
Now that John Waters has emerged, improbably, as a taste maker and even a Broadway hit, Joel M. Reed's CAREER BED is worth perusal as a potential camp classic for the Great White Way.

I got to know Reed in the mid-1980s when he was palling around with Sleazoid Express founder Bill Landis. Like so many other indie filmmakers I would run into back then (Abel Ferrara, Amin Chaudhri, Maggie Greenwald, Jack O'Connell, Katt Shea, Tim Kincaid, Bill Lustig, Andy Sidaris, Ted Mikels, Jim Jarmusch, Ed Mann, Joseph Vasquez, Sam Raimi, Lawrence Foldes, to name a representative cross-section) he had grandiose dreams and high hopes, but will forever be tagged as the guy who made BLOODSUCKING FREAKS. Well, at least he hasn't been completely forgotten like Mann and O'Connell.

CAREER BED saw Reed in a distinctly overachieving mode, trying to become the Joseph L. Mankiewicz of soft porn. This tale of the ultimate of stage mothers, wantonly sacrificing her own body to get her child a foothold in show biz, has the sharp dialog Mankie made famous in classics like ALL ABOUT EVE, but with a dirty edge. Combine that with the constant howler delivery mode of star Honey Hunter and you have non-stop camp. Why my local Chelsea cinema is not showing CAREER BED every Friday night with Hedda Lettuce hosting is beyond me.

Making for double-barreled entertainment is the casting of Jennifer Welles as Hunter's young pig-tailed daughter. Having debuted the year before in Reed's SEX BY ADVERTISEMENT, Welles' appearance here is literally a "star is born" occurrence, mirroring the fictional role, as we see her going to casting calls with her portfolio of beautiful still shots, and watch the painful ascent towards (elusive) stardom.

Both Hunter and Welles drop their tops for full-bosom nude shots throughout the film, and it is remarkable that the mature Hunter actually keeps pace with the starlet, both sporting spectacular figures.

Georgina Spelvin, who easily could have played the Hunter "mommy" role (but it wouldn't have been funny, since Spelvin can act) is cast as a butch lesbian talent agent who briefly and literally takes Welles under her wing. For the fans, Spelvin also has a topless scene. Once again, Reed also discovered this future porn superstar, whose first two films were these (BED and ADVERTISEMENT) made by him in the '60s, before a long hiatus until Damiano launched her in DEVIL IN MISS JONES.

The rest of the cast (which includes Reed himself as both actor & clapper board snapper in a Welles screen test segment) is mainly perverts, all the better to conjure up stage grotesques should someone take me up on the adaptation bait. There's an obnoxious still photographer (credited as "Stioge Glyspayne" (!)),who seems in love with a blow-up Bugs Bunny doll (!), and who both fellow cast members and the audience cringe at the sight of.

Bald and sleazy producer Ross Miller is played by Charles Buffum as deliciously evil -this guy was also comically successful in PUTNEY SWOPE. The Mr. Nice Guy role goes to John Cardoza (he has a rather spotty career according to IMDb credits), unconvincing as a too-good-to-be-true Broadway director. I kept wanting him to suddenly paw Welles and show his true colors, but no such luck.

Reed keeps a strong leash on the cast until the final reel (when he himself shows up on screen), as the film suddenly turns dark, unfunny and generally taking itself too seriously as it wends towards a "more cynical than thou" pretentious finish. I guess he thought this exercise in camp might be taken as art, when in fact it has had zero impact, and not even created much commotion when more recently revived on video by Something Weird.

Black & white photography, including the requisite atmosphere shots of '60s Manhattan, is very well done by future pornographer Ron Dorfman.
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3/10
Sexploitation quickie from the notorious Joel M. Reed
Leofwine_draca17 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
CAREER BED is a 1969 sexploitation quickie, shot in black and white and on the cheap like so many. The film is notable for being an early feature in the limited career of the notorious Joel M. Reed, the man who ended his career with the twofer whammy of BLOODSUCKING FREAKS and NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES. This film is a lot more staid and serious, telling of an ambitious mother who is determined to make her daughter a big star - even if that involves her sleeping her way to the top. It's all very straightforward without much in the way of interest, although Reed is sure to have his two female leads drop their tops at every opportunity.
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