CANNON MONTH 2: Fake-Out (1982)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Fake-Out was not produced by Cannon. It was, however, released on video in Germany by Cannon Screen Entertainment.

Did Matt Cimber make this movie just for me?

First off, Cimber has led a crazy life. He went from doing plays in Vermont to Broadway, where he directed the revival of Bus Stop and met his future wife, Jayne Mansfield, who he made Single Room Furnished with. Under the names Gary Harper and Rinehart Segway he directed Man and Wife, Sex and Astrology and The Sexually Liberated Female then made The Black SixLady CocoaThe Candy Tangerine Man and The Witch Who Came from the Sea.

Cimber also teamed with actress Laurene Landon to make Hundra and Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold. He also was one of the co-creators behind the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, serving as executive producer and director of the syndicated television program — Mark Maron played him on the Netflix series — and his career is often a mix of exploitation and female empowerment, but it can get kind of murky. Seventies murky, you know? It has to be sexy, but women are still dangerous but yet need to be naked a lot of the time.

Another actor that Cimber teamed with twice was Pia Zadora. Have I not revealed how much I love Ms. Zadora in these digital pages? Well, Cimber made Butterfly and this movie with her. Financed by Pia’s then-husband Meshulam Riklis — he also paid for The Lonely Lady and perhaps her Golden Globe Award as New Star of the Year — it’s the tale Bobbie Warren (Zadora), a gangster’s moll who everyone thinks is going to snitch, so they plan her demise.

Written by John F. Goff (Drive-In MassacreC.B. HustlersThe Capture of Bigfoot) and Cimber, this movie was also called Nevada Heat and places Pia into the Lola Falana role from Cimber’s Lady Cocoa. She’s been arrested and doesn’t want to deal with jail — I mean, she does teach an aerobics class but then she has to deal with a sapphic shower assault — so she turns state’s evidence and is protected by a cop named Clint Morgan (Desi Arnaz, Jr., who once teamed with four of horror’s greatest stars in Cannon’s House of Long Shadows) and Lt. Thurston (Telly Savalas), a boss officer with a gambling habit and the need to end every sentence with the word baby.

I honestly believe that Telly is playing himself.

My favorite Telly story: He lived for twenty years in the Sheraton-Universal Hotel and would just come down to the hotel bar — which was renamed Telly’s — in his slippers and watch games and shoot pool with normal non-celebrity folk. One of his friends said, “He could be eating a sandwich, you know, putting something in his mouth and someone would come over and slap him on the back and say, “How ya doin?” He’d say, “Delightful.””

Delightful.

Man, I love Telly. I love that he’s in this movie.

This whole thing is set at the Riveria Hotel in Vegas, which Riklis owned at the time and one imagines that he forgave Telly’s debts if he just showed up for a few minutes in his wife’s movie. It even ends with an ad for the casino, saying “The production is indebted to the Riviera Hotel for its many considerations and extends you a cordial invitation to visit and enjoy its newly remodeled facilities.”

How’s the movie? Pia once said, “I threatened to commit suicide if Fake-Out was released.”

But it’s not horrible as long as you’re the kind of person who loves to see Larry Storch and George “Buck” Flower — who made Takin’ It Off Out West with screenwriter Goff, Taylor St. Clair and Julie Strain — show up in films.

You will also love it if you’re also like me and give Pia a pass no matter what she does. You can also enjoy her work in Santa Claus Conquers the MartiansVoyage of the Rock AliensHairspray Troop Beverly HillsNaked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult and of course Butterfly and the The Lonely Lady.

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