Secrets of a Call Girl (1973) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Edwige Fenech stars as a naïve shop clerk in Bergamo who falls for a Milanese mobster laying low near her café. He soon forces her deep into his life, making her carry drugs across the border and forcing her to use sex to compromise rival criminals and others. She does eventually escape from the thug with the assistance of a compassionate doctor, but the mobster tracks her down and wants revenge, so she is forced into a showdown to the death.

It's a classic 1970s Italian grade-B pulp film, part crime saga, part soulful chick-flick. The title is almost completely misleading.

It does offer some guilty pleasures along the way:

1) Richard Conte stars as a mobster named ... (wait for it) ... Don Barzini! (That's the same character Conte played in The Godfather.) I don't know if the mobster was originally named Barzini when this film hit the streets. There are no closing credits on the widescreen DVD print. This film came out while The Godfather was the hottest ticket on the planet, so it's my guess that the Barzini name was cobbled in to make Secrets of a Call Girl seem like some kind of sequel to the Coppola classic.

2) There is a lush, romantic orchestral score by Luciano Michelini. I've spun that in the most positive way. A less enthusiastic summary would be "an evocative piece of 70s nostalgia," and the negative spin would be "hilariously insipid, corny, and repetitive music, frequently descending all the way to mawkish." I didn't enjoy it in an absolute sense, but I loved the nostalgic value of it.

3) The cinematography is actually quite impressive. It was originally filmed in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, which was never convenient for home viewing before DVD. NoShame films has taken the original 35mm reversal print, digitally re-mastered it, and produced it in an uncut transfer. Unfortunately, they did not have as much success with this one as they did with some others (like The Sensuous Nurse and Devil in the Flesh, which look brand new). NoShame did clean up Secrets of a Call Girl, but it looks dark, lacks vibrancy, and is sometimes blurry. It's not bad, mind you, just not as good as some of NoShame's best work. Their other films demonstrate that they are excellent at restoration, so they must have done the best they could with mediocre source material.

4) Edwige Fenech's impressive breasts make several appearances throughout the film, although the nudity is not sufficiently copious to make this a good exploitation film.

Apart from those elements, it is a cheesy melodrama aspiring to be a tragedy. The quality is no better than a 90 minutes of a crime show from any typical American TV show in the same era. The pacing and editing are problematic. The early part of the film is paced so slowly that several minutes of screen time are dedicated to watching a car speed through Milan (The driver is transporting a critically injured mobster, thus providing a justification for a car chase with only one car. Very economical!) The middle of the film includes dialogue and action that had me laughing out loud (it wasn't supposed to be funny). Then the tragic final act of the film is paced so rapidly that ten years elapse unexpectedly: ol' Edwige is young, then she's giving birth, then the child is six years old - and all those transitions occur in jarring, confusing fashion.



  • widescreen transfer, anamorphically enhanced (2.35)
  • stills and poster gallery
  • interviews with the director and Edwige Fenech
  • collectible booklet
  • in English or Italian with optional English subtitles


  • Edwige Fenech - breasts in many scenes, and a close-up of her bum

  • Unknown woman - breasts in a strip joint

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 6.4/10, but based on only 11 votes. It isn't a terrible film, but it isn't that good.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's a C-, a barely watchable film churned out by the mass production process of 1970s Italy, roughly equivalent to 90 minutes of Mannix, except with bare breasts.

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