Once again Brainscan takes a deep dive into a forgotten chapter in the history of film nudity: the grindhouse era. Brainscan alone created all the commentary and collages, as well as the myriad of film clips that accompany this article in the members’ version of the Fun House.
A couple of things happened in 1967 to change grindhouse movies but the most obvious change was slow in coming.
All you need to do is compare two pairs of movies. If you look at Good Time With a Bad Girl and Hot Thrills and Warm Chills, you will see things look very much as they had in the two years before. The stories were about guys and gals in grim settings, at least in moral terms, and all the women kept their pants on unless they were facing away from the camera.
Compare them with Oddo and Scyla and while the stories are just as gritty they have psychedelic elements to them and – here we get to the point – you see a great deal of full frontal nudity, at least in Scyla.
Good Times With a Bad Girl tells the story of the weekend a middle-aged businessman spends with a woman half his age. Susan Evans, a veteran of exploitation movies, plays the free-spirited young woman, and you see a lot of her in three scenes.
Another clip has Susan at a party with Gretchen Rudolph,
where Gretchen Rudolph
and an unknown woman dance topless
because, hey, that happens at every party anyone went to in the 60’s. Well, what the unknown actress does can be called dancing only if we broaden the category to include grand mal seizures. Mr. Businessman gets royally pissed that a woman he met the day before and boffs within an hour would dare to cavort with others. For shame, young woman who agreed to spend the weekend with me, for shame.
Hot Thrills and Warm Chills is about a bank heist or some such contrivance and stars a tough-looking blonde – we all know the type – named Rita Alexander. Don’t know anything more about her. Don’t want to know.
And it stars a real cutie named Bubbles Cash.
Rita and Bubbles were two of the earliest in grindhouse history to display attributes that were not 100% natural. Bubbles also appears in a personal favorite bad movie called Mars Needs Women, where she kept her clothes on even though she plays a stripper.
A third, uncredited woman in Hot Thrills plays the more typical sort of stripper, in as much as she dances topless… for about ten minutes. No kidding. I figure the producer and director knew the movie should run at least an hour but
they had only 50 minutes of material so they grabbed a really nice looking local stripper and said, dance for as long as your long legs will carry you. So she did.
There are two bits of oddness with Hot Thrills that I just have to bring up. 1) Lorna Maitland is in it but she stays covered throughout. This is akin to taking the Annapurna trek and photographing the dirt path between two of the most majestic mountains on the planet. 2) The credits include an actress named Jean Manson and IMDb claims this is the same Jean(e) Manson who starred in Young Nurses six years later, when she was 23, which would have made her 17 when she appeared in Hot Thrills. She is credited as Kitty and that character is the woman on the left in the screen-grab below. I may be certifiably crazy but that woman looks like no 17-year-old I have ever known and she looks nothing like the Jeane Manson who would become a Playmate, before moving on to much bigger things. I dissent.
Scoop’s note: I agree with Brainscan. That is not the Jeane Manson who later became a Playmate, and still later became a pretty huge singing star in French.
That brings us to Oddo and Scyla (yes, one L). They were both made by Nick Millard, not in New York as so many earlier grindhouse movies had been, but in San Francisco.
Oddo is much closer in tone to the traditional grindhouse production, complete with a lesbian scene between two uncredited actresses that is deliberately tawdry.
The story starts with a Vietnam War veteran just returned home to find his mom and some gal tripping the lite lesbian fantastic. So he kills them. Rest of the movie has him arranging visits with sex workers and repeating the whole murder thing. A one-hit wonder named Brigitta Reim has a short scene.
And the marvelous Janice Kelly has a long scene prior to the concluding act.
That is just about all there is to say about Oddo – it has one brilliant moment, when Janice Kelly is on the screen, but before that moment and after it, the whole thing is bland and disappointing, the Joe Flacco of movies.
Scyla, by contrast, is a whole new ballgame. Millard threw in all sorts of mystical touches as the camera follows a guy who thinks Cathy Adams (as Scyla) is da bomb,
even though a witch – in the literal sense – named Circe wants to keep him as her own. I do not know the actress who played Circe, but hot damn, she is beautiful from head to toe. I made only one collage of her
but she is in two clips by herself and one with Cathy Adams and if someone, anyone can tell me who she is, I will swear eternal allegiance to his family.
Antoinette Maynard, who plays one of Circe’s nymphs, gives a ground-breaking performance.
Millard shot her entirely in the buff and he kept the camera on her nether regions for just about the whole movie. All three actresses have triple B performances, but Antoinette’s is nigh on to gynecological. BTW, Ms Maynard would graduate shortly after this movie into hardcore work, if you are interested in that sort of thing.
Whether as a canary in the coal mine or as an inspiration, Scyla was the beginning of a new chapter in grindhouse movies. There would be a few in 1968 and 1969 that would keep things tame, but producers knew the competition was heating up in all directions; from this year on, movies would treat audiences at grind houses with stuff that was much more explicit than the movies of only a couple of years earlier.
Part 1 of this series, The Immoral Mr. Teas, can be found here
Part 2, Nudie Cuties and More, 1963-1965, can be found here.
Part 3, The Nudie Cuties of 1963, can be found here
Part 4, The First Nudie Musical, can be found here
Part 5, Early Nudie Costume Comedies, can be found here
Part 6, The Mid Sixties. can be found here
to be continued …
If you enjoy Brainscan’s work, here are the other series that can be found on Other Crap:
The Films of Harry Novak
Part 1, The Sixties, can be found here.
Part 2, Hicksploitation, is here.
Part 3, The Seventies, is here.
Part 4, The Models in Print (and in his films), is here
The Early Years of Film Nudity
Part 1: 1932. Peak Pre-Code Talkies.
Part 2: 1929-1934. The Other Pre-Code Talkies.
Part 3: 1927. The Swan Song of the Silents.
Part 4: 1900-1926. The Silent Era.
Part 5: 1935-1951. The Dry Years.
Part 6: 1952-1959. Europe to the Rescue
The same articles, with the added bonus of all of Brainscan’s film clips, can be found in the members’s version of the Fun House, along with the many thousands of other collages, clips and commentaries that Brainscan has created in the past two decades. (And his contributions represent only a tiny fraction of the content in the back issues, since the Fun House has been updated every day, seven days a week, without exception, for the past 24 years.)