BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
Watching a twenty-two-year-old movie, there are a number of things to keep in mind. First is the quality of equipment available at the time: cameras, lighting, sound, props, costume… everything. Next is the exposure. These days, we see movies without even wanting to see them. And because there are so many movies out there from different parts of the world, our minds are stretched. Hold that thought for a moment.
Back in the day, Glamour Girls was a knockout, and the reasons are not far-fetched. Names like Liz Benson, Gloria Anozie (now Young), Keppy Ekpeyong, Ashley Nwosu, Bimbo Manuel and a host of others were household names. They were the cream of the crop. You put all those in one movie and what you get is a banger. I grew up hearing about Glamour girls, it’s unfortunate I didn’t get to see it till now.
Produced in 1994 by Kenneth Nnebue and directed by Chika Onukwufor, Glamour Girls tells a story of a group of middle-aged women who are powerful, more out of their dealings with rich influential men than any making of theirs. The movie tells their individual stories. Thelma (Ngozi Ezeonu) has a fiancé abroad who sends her lots of money and in-laws who spoil her rotten, yet she has older men on the side for back up. Doris (Gloria Anozie) gets married to her boy-toy, Daniel (Ernest Obi) to save face while still sleeping with a certain Alhaji who pays her bills. Sandra (Jennifer Okere) is introduced to the big leagues by Doris, and she too gets a certain Chief Obi to grease her wheels which makes her excited and very grateful, until she meets Dennis (Pat Attah), a younger man she falls in love with. Kate (Liz Benson), having lived a rough life in the past meets and marries Desmond (Sola Fosudo) who loves her in spite of everything he knows about her past and jilts him for a swindler, Alex, who breaks her heart. And then there’s Helen (Barbara Odoh), a big time prostitute who employs blackmail and lies to expand her trade.
Because this movie has a prequel, a very popular prequel known for its boldness to explore aspects of film Nigeria wasn’t bold enough to put out such as sex and nudity, this movie seemed like a letdown for being less daring. The storyline isn’t out of the ordinary, and seems to have been duplicated a million times over from then till now. It appears to tell too many stories in one movie –which isn’t so bad in itself– but doesn’t go through with all of them till the end. For example, we do not understand what it meant for Helen to have met JT (portrayed by JT Tom West) or blackmailed Chief Obi (Peter Bunor). It tells us more about her character but has no import on the storyline in any way. In the end, we cannot conclusively tell what becomes of her. Same with everyone else except Kate who ends up arrested for murder, and Sandra who is duped of all her savings and is sent back to penury. If there’s supposed to be a sequel to see the end of the others, it hasn’t been released yet, over two decades after.
Incomplete as it is, the film is star-studded. Major actors were cast for almost every role, including the very minor ones. Unfortunately, this doesn’t exactly translate to great acting. Liz Benson, for example, barely expresses anything with her face. Her character appears too gullible for a grown woman, and too naïve for a one-time street girl. The chemistry between her and Sola Fosudo who plays her husband seems forced and unrealistic. Most of the scenes also seem to go on and on without end.
Glamor Girls is not all bad. The costuming and props are some of the choicest ones from that time and depict the affluence and power the movie attempts to portray. Gloria Anozie dazzles with her acting and makes the movie fun to watch. The camaraderie between the women is relatable, even though one can hardly understand some of the connections they have to each other, and the fact that the movie was shot at a time when Nollywood was just learning to crawl shows great effort that should be applauded. It is proof that we have come a long way.
All in all, Glamor Girls sometimes seem a mashup of ambitious plots that go nowhere in particular. In retrospect, and because we have seen what good movies look like, Glamour Girls falls short in story and acting, but still bags a thumbs-up for props, casting and attempt. Sadly, a good number of the cast are now deceased. Still, they can hardly be forgotten for their immense contributions to Nollywood’s beginning.