Shot at the same time as his overblown BON APPETIT, making the most of the European locations not to mention the ample air fare it must’ve cost to drag cast and crew over there, THAT LUCKY STIFF shows a more relaxed and freewheeling side of the late Chuck Vincent. Never meant to be more than a hastily slapped together B side to an inexplicably overrated blockbuster (which was the type of porn film that appeals to those who value glossy production over hot sex), it perhaps characteristically turned out to be a lot more fun than the prestigious project it was supposedly supporting.
Down on his luck Burt (Randy West, then still new to the business and already a very relaxed and natural screen presence) has to put up with a conniving girlfriend (Kandi Barbour) and a womanizing mate (Ron Hudd) who further frustrates him with tales of sexual conquest. On top of that, he’s down to his last 300 bucks until the bank makes an error that changes his balance to 300,000 instead ! Rather than wait for them to realize their mistake, he transfers the cash to a Swiss bank account (there’s a sidesplittingly funny performance by Vincent’s regular character actor “W.P. Dreamak”, the lead Satanist from DIRTY LILLY, as the bank manager) and takes off for Europe. Unfortunately, along the way naive Burt is taken advantage of by all and sundry. A Paris waiter (Ron Jeremy sporting an intentionally ludicrous accent) offers him a willing prostitute (late night cable queen Robin Byrd), only to leave him tied to the bed whilst making off with the contents of his wallet. A Dutch farm girl (pretty small-breasted Erica Richardson, also in Roberta Findlay’s MYSTIQUE) and her gun-toting dad (Jake Teague), a doe-eyed Berlin beauty (the magnificent Merle Michaels, a criminally underrated adult actress in wonderful little movies like SECRETS OF A WILLING WIFE) and a band of misguided Italian revolutionaries led by Veri Knotty (who chose her pseudonym because of her peculiar ability to, er, tie her labia into a knot !) are among the assorted weird characters our hero unwillingly bumps (and often grinds) into on his way to Switzerland, where solace awaits in the form of ex-pat Corinna, played by lovely Kelly Nichols who was of course to become Vincent’s fetish actress (GAMES WOMEN PLAY, ROOMMATES, IN LOVE, etc.) over years to come. As usual for a Vincent film, the screenplay is both literate and witty, but this time it’s almost matched by some highly effective sex scenes.
Best of show must go to Ron Hudd’s massage parlor bit with greedy attendants Samantha Fox (star of Vincent’s best film JACK ‘N’ JILL) and Candida Royalle (yes, she of FEMME fame) charging him handsomely for every extra service they provide. West’s scene with Merle Michaels benefits enormously from Larry Revene’s fabulous camera work and absolutely gorgeous lighting, something unfortunately missing from the too dark scene with Kelly at the end. What makes THAT LUCKY STIFF so endearing however is its total lack of pretension to be anything other than a fun ‘n’ fluff sex flick while still delivering all the qualities one has come to associate with Vincent like solid production, amusing dialog and a star cast at the top of their form.