Mar 3, 2021

Debbie Does Dallas (1978)


Among the top five highest grossing adult films of all time - and I believe it.  It played at the drive-in where I lived in the early eighties seemingly every single midnight showing for years.  I had a friend whose house was in a subdivision which was a short walk to a hill where you could watch the movies at the drive-in from on high.  Of course, the screen was ridiculously small and far off, and we couldn't hear a word... but the point was, we could smoke grass and watch Debbie Does Dallas and that was living the dream.  

A group of high school cheerleaders gather round with the announcement that one of their ranks has been chosen to be a professional cheerleader - a Texas Cowgirl.  Obviously, everyone thinks of the Dallas Cowboys (a team that had immense cultural popularity back then) - but the NFL team is never named - but that didn't stop the Dallas Cowboys from suing.

Debbie Benton (Bambi Woods) explains that, although this is a great opportunity, her parents don't approve.  So, she'll have to come up with the money to go to Dallas on her own.

The cheerleaders decide that they'll try and raise money to pay for Debbie's trip.

 Lisa (Georgette Sanders) has a novel idea: they'll go with her to Dallas as moral support.  They'll all work for the next two weeks to raise the money.

Tammy (Arcadia Lake) gets a job at a bookstore.

Debbie gets a job at a sporting goods store working for Mr. Greenfield (Robert Kerman).

A quick word about Bambi Woods.  A lot of urban legends surrounded her in the eighties when she didn't leverage this film into a long, prosperous career in adult entertainment.  Instead, she disappeared a few years after this release, prompting all kinds of wild theories - the most popular being she'd died of a drug overdose.  In reality, she dropped out of porn to live a normal life - although, where and doing what still generate conflicting reports.  Some sources I've read say she's a rural housewife in De Moines, other she's married to a wealthy software developer in Silicon Valley.

The cheerleaders reconvene - and also discuss the fact that Lisa never wears underwear under her cheerleader skirt.

Roberta (Christie Ford) has also found a job...

She gets a job working for Mr. Hardwick (Eric Edwards) at his candle shop.

Roberta and Pat (Kasey Rodgers) take a shower and are joined by the football team.

Christie Ford and Kasey Rodgers spend the next five minutes with dicks in their mouths and other orifices. I have to say, Ford really does the heavy lifting in this film, with the best sex scenes in the film. I'll also mention this scene feels particularly shocking.  Until this point, the film feels exactly like your typical high school sex romp, taking its sweet time to get to this scene, which feels very jarring when it arrives.  You're like - oh, yeah, I almost forgot this was a porno.

Debbie stocks the shelves at the sporting goods store.

Greenfield can no longer help himself, and pays Debbie money to grab a hold of those titties.

In the locker room, Debbie shows the girls her breasts - this is how she's earning big money.  The rest of the cheerleaders are inspired by this technique.

Roberta stocks candles at her new job.

She gets a call from her boyfriend.

The call gets Roberta overheated and she takes off her shorts.

You'll notice the candles nearby, so I don't need to tell you what happens next.

Roberta is horrified when she's walked in by Mrs. Hardwick.

Mrs. Hardwick (Robin Byrd) tries to put her at ease, and Mr. Hardwick arrives upon this embarrassing situation.

The couple don't want Roberta to leave...

And so it goes.

Rikki (Rikki O'Neal) and Annie  (Jenny Cole) show up for a car wash job.

They get all wet and come inside to get changed.

The girls offer Mr. Bradly (David Pierce) other services for a little extra cash.

Mr. Bradley takes them up on the offer.

Donna (Merle Michaels) gets a job at the library.

She works for pervy librarian Mr. Biddle (Jake Teague

Biddle enjoys watching her put books on shelves.

He catches Donna giving a guy a blow job.  He agrees to not tell her parents, but will administer a spanking instead.

Of course, he gets his jollies from the experience.

Lisa works at a tennis court and offers her services in the sauna.

Lisa goes to the bookstore where Tammy works and offers to give the owner a blow job for money.

This is such a cool scene as it's among the stacks of vinyl.

Debbie shows up to Greenfield's wearing the outfit he requested.

He emerges from the dressing room with an enormous hard-on.

He lays her down on the weightlifting bench.

But this spot won't do, so he carries her somewhere else...

They have sex on the exercise mat.

As he sprays his jiz, "touchdown for Mr. Greenfield" is announced on screen.  THE END

So, what's so great about this movie?  Why did it become a cultural phenomenon?  I mean, it was well past Deep Throat, and smack in the middle of porn's Golden Age - so it had plenty of competitors with decent budgets, skillful writing and directing, etc. Yet, amid such an embarrassment of riches, this film stands above them all at the box office, and becomes the first title on anyone's lips when they are asked to name a porn movie.  What's the deal?

I'm sure there are better theories than mine for why it was such big hit.  It's not due to the actresses -Christie Ford and Bambi Woods are definitely hot, but there were plenty of other actresses in adult film back then who were just as hot (and hotter). It wasn't due to the sex scenes- again, they are quite good, but nothing exceptional compared to its late-night drive-in brethren. I think its success is attributable to three things...

(1) The title.  I mean, it's perfect - looks great on a marquee and sounds like a good time.  Plus the Dallas Cowboys and their cheerleaders were huge. (2) The setting. Writer Maria Minestra did a great job placing everything in great settings - a record store, a library, a locker room shower, a sauna, a candle shop, a sporting goods store.  Let's face it - porn is all about the setting. Since we're not interested in the story or characters so much, what is there besides the fucking?  That's right - the setting.  It matters.  And lastly, (3) Minestra's writing makes this feel like a legit sex comedy.  Nothing too heady or serious, nothing disturbing or dark - just a Porky's style high school sex comedy - but with hardcore scenes. It's incredible that this is Minestra's only writing credit. 

So, that's an overlong analysis of why this film was such a success.  But what's the VZ1 verdict? It's fine.  Pro-Ball Cheerleaders (1979) is much better. 


1 comment:

  1. I realized I've never seen it. I saw some sequel or some rip-off, where I remember a scene near the end where they had to dub over some lines or words. I think the line was something like "…being a Dallas cheerleader" but the probably didn't have the rights and changed it to "…being a nasty cheerleader."