Chastity (film)

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Chastity
Chastitymovieposter.jpg
Original theatrical release poster
Directed by Alessio de Paola
Produced by Sonny Bono
Written by Sonny Bono
Starring Cher
Barbara London
Stephen Whittaker
Music by Sonny Bono
Dr. John (credited under his
real name of Malcolm
John Rebennack)
Cinematography Ben Colman
Edited by Hugo Grimaldi
Distributed by American International Pictures
Release dates
  • June 24, 1969 (1969-06-24)
Running time
83 min.
Country USA
Language English

Chastity is a 1969 road movie drama, directed by Alessio de Paola and starring American singer-actress Cher, in her first solo film role.[1][2] Written and produced by Cher's then-husband, Sonny Bono, as a star vehicle for her, it flopped badly and deterred Cher from acting in films for more than a decade.[3][4][5]

Plot[edit]

Chastity (Cher) is a young hippie runaway who drifts and hitchhikes aimlessly, reflecting on life and love. She survives by her wits, engaging in occasional scams (such as pretending to be a gas station attendant and keeping the customer's payment) and accepting offers of rides, food and lodging from men she meets, but firmly and coldly rejecting any sexual advances that come with these offers. Sometimes she is childlike, other times she is angry or destructive for seemingly no reason. She chose the name "Chastity" for herself from the dictionary because it meant "abstinence, purity, freedom from ornamentation, simplicity."

Chastity meets a law student named Eddie (Stephen Whittaker) who is kind to her, and briefly stays with him at his house. Next she travels over the border to Mexico, ending up in a brothel run by lesbian madam Diana Midnight (Barbara London). After Chastity rips off an inexperienced young male customer, Diana takes a personal interest in her and the two begin a brief romantic relationship. At first, Chastity seems happy with Diana, despite Chastity's expressed hatred of being touched. However, Chastity soon becomes angry with Diana, runs away and returns to Eddie, whom she renames "Andre".

Eddie and Chastity live together for a short time and Chastity seems to finally be settled in a traditional relationship. But when Eddie is out, Chastity begins to hear in her head the voices of her parents talking about how she was sexually abused when she was younger (providing the motivation for Chastity's behavior up to this point). Crying and traumatized, Chastity overturns the dining room table, writes "I think I love you" on Eddie's kitchen wall and runs away again, heading for the highway. A truck driver pulls up to offer her a lift, but Chastity hesitates about getting in, and the film ends without showing whether she accepts the ride.

Cast[edit]

  • Cher as Chastity
  • Barbara London as Diana Midnight
  • Stephen Whittaker as Eddie (aka Andre)
  • Tom Nolan as Tommy
  • Danny Zapien as Pimp
  • Elmer Valentine as First Truck Driver
  • Burke Rhind as Salesman
  • Richard Armstrong as Husband
  • Autumn as Prostitute
  • Joe Light as Master of Ceremonies
  • Dolly Hunt as Lady in Church
  • Jason Clark as Second Truck Driver (as Jason Clarke)

Production notes[edit]

By 1968, the duo of Sonny & Cher were losing popularity, in part because young people disagreed with the duo's anti-drug stance and associated them and their music with an older, more conservative generation. The film Chastity was planned to reconnect with the younger audience, make Cher a major movie star, and establish Sonny in the film business. Sonny stated that the film was about "the increase in frigidity and the increase in lesbianism...the lack of manhood. The independence women have acquired but don't necessarily want. So many young girls are just spinning their wheels."[3][4]

The Bonos invested $500,000 of their own money into the film, even pawning the furniture from their Bel Air mansion to raise funds. When Chastity failed at the box office, the couple lost their investment and ended up owing the U.S. government $270,000 in taxes. Although the movie overall received poor notices, Cher did receive some positive reviews for her acting.[2][3][4]

A soundtrack to the film was also released, consisting almost entirely of instrumentals except for one song sung by Cher and produced by Sonny, "Chastity's Song (Band of Thieves)" which was also released as a single. The single and soundtrack LP were also commercial failures, and contributed to ATCO Records' decision that Cher work with a different producer on her next solo album, 3614 Jackson Highway.[3][4]

Sonny and Cher's child Chaz Bono was conceived during the making of the film, and was originally named "Chastity" after it.[4][6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Munden, Kenneth White. The American Film Institute Catalog of Feature Films 1961-1970. Univ. of California Press, 1976, p. 987. ISBN 0-520-20970-2.
  2. ^ a b Maltin, Leonard. Leonard Maltin's 2009 Movie Guide. Penguin Books (Plume), 2008, p. 235. ISBN 978-0-452-28978-9.
  3. ^ a b c d LaRocque, Jason. Cher: You Haven't Seen the Last of Me. Baker & Taylor, 2013, p. 75-80. ISBN 978-1-300-88858-1.
  4. ^ a b c d e Bego, Mark. Cher: If You Believe. Cooper Square Press, 2001, p. 56-58. ISBN 978-1-58979-135-0.
  5. ^ Virtel, Louis, "Bad Movies We Love: Chastity." Movieline.com, Nov. 17, 2010, accessed Apr. 4, 2015.
  6. ^ Howe, Zoe Street. How's Your Dad? Growing Up in the Shadow of a Rock Star Parent. Omnibus Press, 2010, p. 260. ISBN 978-0-85712-415-9.

External links[edit]