Suburban Housewives Sell Themselves

Underground erotica legend Joe Sarno (Confessions of a Young American Housewife) specialized in tame sexploitation flicks like The Naked Fog and Moonlighting Wives, presented here as a carnal double-feature by Film Movement Classics.

Starring Sarno regular Tammy Latour and a young Gretchen Rudolph as their primary players, the films can only be taken as kitsch smut from the 1960s. Pushing the envelope, Moonlighting Wives was openly seen in mainstream movie theaters and drive-ins of its day. Supposedly based on a true story that made the news, it has a hint of authenticity and retro sex appeal.

Moonlighting Wives was openly seen in mainstream movie theaters and drive-ins of its day

Sarno’s films often explore the female psyche using strong women as protagonists in heady psychodrama, rare for the times and far ahead of his peers. The featured players in the cast are capable actors and the sex is quite removed from today’s more permissive standards. While Sarno’s efforts may have been loosely considered pornography in the 1960s, modern audiences will find nothing in them they can’t find today on any cable television channel. Sarno heavily relies on frequent fade-to-blacks and carefully placed shadows.

In Moonlighting Wives, housewife Joanie Rand (Tammy Latour) builds an entire prostitution ring from scratch through her own ingenuity and gumption. A better name for the flick would have been “A Woman’s Guide To Building a Call Girl Service”. Written and directed by Sarno, Rand employs suburban housewives looking to make extra dough on the side. A couple of bumbling vice cops are the only thorn in her empire.

The manipulative and sneaky Rand becomes quite ruthless as her business expands, coercing the young Nancy Preston (Gretchen Rudolph) into becoming one of her girls. The engaging screenplay delves into realistic and practical aspects of Rand’s new service, and the emotional fall-out exemplified by Nancy, far more than its background sexcapades. There is a risque sub-plot about two married couples swapping partners, suggested by one of the wives.

The Naked Fog is a less interesting journey into the world of prostitution and its implications, padded with cheesy burlesque dance segments. A string of bad relationships with men sees jaded writer Marge (Tammy Latour in another starring role) look to the local brothel for creative inspiration. There Marge encounters the young Evan, son of the woman who owns the brothel. They grow closer together against the wishes of his mother.

Marge also has a conflict with Marina (Gretchen Rudolph), fighting over Marina’s cousin. Barely clocking in at 86 minutes, it’s a repetitive and dull film with none of the building suspense found in Moonlighting Wives. Considered lost for many years, it’s probably only of interest to hardcore Sarno admirers.

Joe Sarno is a real filmmaker worthy of respect, leaving behind a body of interesting cinematic efforts and offering unexpected hidden delights. These films obviously were produced as sexploitation vehicles but there’s a craft and intelligence behind them which elevate each one above the disposable schlock most associate with the genre.


Would you rather see Sarno’s Moonlighting Wives uncut for the first time since its theatrical release, or a transfer from the negative? The brightly lit, colorful 1966 sexploitation flick has been issued in two dueling releases, this double-bill from Film Movement and a solo release by Dark Force Entertainment. A 2016 “Pop Cinema” credit is tagged on Film Movement’s restoration.

Film Movement’s new 2K restoration is derived from three different theatrical prints filled with copious scratches, properly assembling an uncut version running over 91 minutes. Dark Force took their transfer from the 35mm camera negative, completely losing four minutes of what can only be described as a non-explicit foursome in the final act. If you can handle the constant scratches, your best bet may be Film Movement’s disc. It’s really a matter of preference over what you prefer.

Talking pure video quality and cinematic fidelity, the Dark Force transfer is sharper but darker in tone. Film Movement’s transfer varies in quality depending on the reel. Continuous running gate scratches and minor nicks mar its 1.37:1 presentation. Frame glitches and some judder pop up.

Clarity and definition are fairly decent for a transfer taken from 35mm prints. It’s a well-done 2K pass of serviceable elements. Damage is always evident, becoming less intrusive after the opening thirty minutes. A nice contrast and adequate black levels offer decent color reproduction. I wouldn’t characterize the 1080p video as crisp but is leaps ahead of standard definition.

A more sedate black-and-white production, The Naked Fog was previously thought lost and shows up on home video for the first time. Film Movement’s 1.37:1 presentation is rough around the edges, possibly a reflection of problems baked into the cinematography. Softly shot with wavering shadow delineation, one wonders how close to the negative this print really was in quality. Don’t expect searing definition and excellent grain reproduction, though the overall experience is a wee bit stronger than Moonlighting Wives.

The movies are encoded in tolerable AVC on a BD-25. Compression anomalies aren’t a big issue, detail is already less than generous from softer elements and possible low-pass filtering. Grain is a little hit or miss, possibly altered from strident processing.


Both films are heard in barely serviceable 2.0 Dolby Digital, incorrectly labeled as stereo on the back cover. The mono soundtrack for Moonlighting Wives has been compiled from three different theatrical prints in somewhat varying quality, though The Naked Fog’s mono sound is replete with muffled dialogue. Any scene in The Naked Fog with dialogue recorded on set is poorly reproduced, often drowned out by the jazzy score’s cleaner volume.

Hiss and crackling are present throughout portions of each Sarno feature.

No subtitles are available for either movie.


Moonlighting Wives and The Naked Fog come as a double-bill in volume five of Film Movement’s Joseph W. Sarno Retrospect series with fresh film transfers and exclusive special features.

Interestingly enough, Moonlighting Wives received a competing Blu-ray release this year from Dark Force Entertainment with different special features and an alternate transfer taken from the negative. Only Film Movement however included the “complete” version with a lengthy foursome scene back into the main feature. For Sarno fanatics, you may very well have to buy both releases.

The Blu-ray is coded for all regions.

Moonlighting Wives Audio Commentary By Film Historian Tim Lucas – Lucas is a capable, lucid speaker who largely sounds like he’s reading off prepared notes most of the time. He’s been around the block, having become one of the small handful of regular film commentators on genre home video releases. Dry but largely informative.

2006 Interview with Director Joe Sarno (07:09 in SD) – Sarno details how the idea for Moonlighting Wives came about, suggested to him by a United Artists producer interested in a news story about a suburban madam.

2007 Interview with Cinematographer Jerry Kalogeratos (11:40 in SD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.

Moonlighting Wives / The Naked Fog
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A double feature of tasty carnal flicks from ’60s sexploitation auteur Joseph Sarno

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 63 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots ripped directly from the Blu-ray:

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