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The Flesh Merchant
(1956 Film)

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About This Film
Alternate Titles For This Film
More About The Actors

Joy Reynolds as Nancy Sheridan/Nancy Walker
Lisa Rack as Paula Sheridan
Norman Wright as Bernie Sogel
Marko Perri as Vito Perrini
Geri Moffat as Easy [?]
[?] as Joker

Director- W. Merle Connell
Writers- Jay M. Kude & Peter Perry, Jr.

Other Cast:

Raymond Guth
Fred Humphrey
Lyle Kirk
Guy Manford
Debbie Marshall
Sam Rosen
Edward Schaaf
Ted Soares
Wayne Winton

if you can help with the cast information above.  I'd like to know which actor goes to which character.

The Flesh Merchant (1956)
:  This really isn't a sexploitation movie.  At least, not in the "usual" sense.  It's actually a propaganda movie that tells the evils of prostitution.  "The Flesh Merchant", also known as "The Wild and the Wicked", fits better under the plain old "exploitation" label than anything else.  From the 1930s through the 1950s, many taboo exploitation movies were made, usually spreading a moral message or other social concern.  By the 1960s, and certainly 1970s, these films gave way to 100% sleazy, cheesy sexploitation, blaxploitation, and other kinds of unintelligent B-movies.  A handful of movies from the golden age were actually made well.  "The Flesh Merchant" is one of them.

    This is actually a good little movie.  I was surprised.  I've seen a lot of old exploitation movies and most of them are so bad!  This film actually has a good story with a point to it, good acting, and good direction.  All of the actors do a pretty good job.  Lisa Rack, who plays older sister Paula Sheridan, does an especially good job.  She delivers lines with more fire and believability than entire casts of a lot of other B-movies from this time.  I also like the guy who plays the character, Joker.  I wish I knew his name!  The cast credits for this movie are vague.  If you can help, please CONTACT ME.  Joker was a bespectacled, ignorant goof that served as laison between the prostitutes and the bosses.  He just said a lot of funny things and was an all-around funny character without being over-the-top.  Joker was a bad guy who did bad things, but you don't hate him in the film.  He's more or less a lovable loser.  Another important character was the aging blonde prostitute, Easy.  She was a brassy, funny, yet sensitive character.  Last, but not least, is starlet Joy Reynolds who plays Nancy.  She's cute, and has charm.

    What I like best about this movie is that it doesn't try to outdo itself.  The filmmakers kept it simple.  They didn't try to do things that the budget couldn't handle, and they didn't try to stretch the story or add anything as filler.  The actors they got were all pretty decent for the roles that they played.  Someone was keeping an eye out for acting talent.  There's almost always at least one that's a dud in these films.  This entire cast was pretty good.  It also had a very clear message:  "Don't get involved with prostitution!"

    This movie told a message without being preachy.  It was still a movie.  There were laughs, action sequences, even quasi-nudity.  Although this movie never shows full-on nudity, the camera likes to tease us by almost showing naked girls.  This film talked about some pretty taboo topic matter, even for today, without being the least bit raunchy.  There was no dirty language, or onscreen sex, or anything else offensive.  And, perhaps most important, it had a happy ending.  If this movie was to receive a rating, I'd say it would be PG, but only because it talks about prostitution.

    The story?  A small-town, 22-year-old girl named Nancy Sheridan joins her older sister in Hollywood to become a successful model.  Instead, she unwittingly falls into a highly-organized prostitution racket.  At first, she was unwilling, but soon she fools herself into believing this is the "good life".  Nancy ultimately learns that she is nothing but a piece of property to the bosses and to the male customers, and that all these "nice things" belong to them, not her.  What really turns her around, though, is when she discovers that her sister, Paula, has been a prostitute all this time.  They both decide that prostitution is not what it's cracked up to be and decide to quit, no matter the cost.  Before any harm can come to them, the entire prostitution ring is arrested.

    "The Flesh Merchant" should have been given an award for informing the public about the world of prostitution.  I imagine it really opened people's eyes back then.  It would be good to use as an educational film in schools, today.  In any case, it's a pretty enjoyable old movie that's worth a look.

Alternate Titles For This Film:

The Wild and the Wicked

More About The Actors:

    It's a shame that no one in this movie became a "big name", because they were all pretty good.  Star Joy Reynolds apparently has only three credits in her career, the last one being a bit part in the Elvis Presley movie, "Loving You", from 1957.

    Lisa Rack (Paula Sheridan), Geri Moffatt (Easy), and Marko Perri (Vito Perrini) have only this movie to their names.  That's a bit sad, because they all gave such good performances.

    Norman Wright, who played Bernie Sogel, bearded leader of the prostitution outfit, did quite a bit more.  He mostly did bit parts, and his most popular work is probably several guest appearances on TV's "Hawaii Five-O".