The title of Metzger’s "second film" (second by his own reckoning; other sources list it as his fifth, after Dark Odyssey, The Dirty Girls, Dictionary of Sex, and Carmen, Baby) is misleading. Sold as an exploitation film with lesbian sequences, The Alley Cats (1966) is in fact a typically artful, sexy, sometimes ponderous, ultimately satisfying softcore effort that manages to amuse and engage more than three decades after its release.
Like most Metzger movies, The Alley Cats puts a naïve young woman at the center of an erotic ensemble, here a loosely aligned group of beautiful, seemingly wealthy Euroswingers. The naïf in this case is gorgeous Leslie (Anne Arthur), whose fiancé Logan (Charlie Hickman) philanders with Agnes (Karin Field) while expecting Leslie to be faithful. But Leslie has other ideas. More passive than many a Metzger heroine, she nonetheless has a desultory affair with an artist, Christian (Harald Baerow), who dumps her, and then with lesbian artist-hostess Irena (Sabrina Koch), before returning to Logan’s hunky arms. The usual trajectory for this kind of character is her progress from naïf to sexual sophisticate, but Leslie is simply confused at the end, unable to totally reconcile her lesbian and hetero impulses. This puts the film in a different space than works such as The Dirty Girls or Therese and Isabel or Score, which find lesbianism an eminently satisfying lifestyle.