JESS FRANCO MONTH: The Blues of Pop Street (1983)

Los blues de la calle Pop (Aventuras de Felipe Malboro, volumen 8) is a movie where Jess Franco posits that a young girl named Mary Lucky (María del Mar Sánchez) from Mondonedo, Ohio — did he mean Macedonia? — hires a detective named Philip Marlboro (Antonio Mayans) to find her boyfriend Macho Jim who has disappeared into Shit City — yes, Shit City — a place that is ruled by punk rock gangs.

Yes, Phillip Marlboro, not Al Pereira, because this is Jess making this movie and naming everyone after tobacco brands is kind of like what Albert Pyun did with guitars in Cyborg.

There’s also a bar filled with images of Monroe, Bogart and, for some reason, Adam Ant.

That bar is where Marlboro has been told that Macho Jim can be found, a place where Sam Chesterfield (Franco) plays the piano and Genera Johnny “Butterfly” Walker (Lina Romay) dances. There’s also a gang of punks who trounce our protagonist led by Impassive Carter (Agustín García), who is equally qualified to dance the flamenco and toss knives.

This is filled with twists and turns, as Butterfly is really the wife of rich drug dealer Saul Winston (Trino Trives), who is also sleeping with Macho Jim, who also wants to take over the drug trade and steal Butterfly, but Mary knew her from the old days and has always hated her and once she steals her man, well, she shoots her and makes sure that Winston dies in a plane crash before paying off Marlboro with some close-up Jess Franco love scene lovemaking.

As much as I discuss the Jess Franco Cinematic Universe, this is a comic book movie and even shot to look like panels and be part of a much larger narrative, a world where tough detectives, sexy women, punk lowlifes, smoky bars and, always, jazz rule all.

It’s both like and unlike everything else Franco made and that’s why I loved it.

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