Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Giant of Metropolis (Italy, 1961)

 
"What does the sacrifice of a man matter when it serves to further the progress of science? Nothing."
Yotar (Roldano Lupi)
 
(Warning: spoilers and verbosity ahead!) We admit that when we tossed down the 50 euro-cents at the thrift shop for The Giant of Metropolis, we did so less due to the DVD cover (top of the page) or backside synopsis than for the backside graphics, which feature the trimmed beard and smoothly chiseled muscles of that walking wetdream that was Steve Reeves (21 Jan 1926 – 1 May 2000 / see: Ed Woods's Jailbait [1954 / trailer] and/or R.I.P. Umberto Lenzi Part I and Part II). 
Trailer to
The Giant of Metropolis:
But, no: Reeves does not appear in this film. Instead, the muscles — and what impressive muscles they are! — belong to a name familiar to us from spaghetti westerns and Italo-crime flicks, Gordon Mitchell (29 Jul 1923 – 20 Sept 2003), below not from the film, a manly man whom we had never placed mentally in the peplum genre, despite his extensive presence in it. Indeed, it is the genre in which his career as an actor finally (and truly) took off.
Born Charles Allen Pendleton, Mitchell began his pursuit of stardom when he moved from displaying his fabulous physique at Venice's Muscle Beach to flexing his muscles alongside Mickey Hargitay (6 Jan 1926 – 14 Sept 2006, of Lady Frankenstein [1971]), Brad Harris* (16 Jul 1933 – 7 Nov 2017, of The Freakmaker [1974]) and Reg Lewis (23 Jan 1936 – 11 Feb 2021, packing a basket further below) on stage behind Mae West (17 Aug 1893 – 22 Nov 1980). The Giant of Metropolis is the third movie** of the plethora of movies that Mitchell was eventually to make in Italy, where he came in the hope of reiterating Reeves's peplum success after roughly a decade of never making it past the job of background extra in Hollyweird. And though Mitchell may never have achieved the international fame and cult status of Reeves, Mitchell's acting career ended up both lasting far longer and being far more diverse and interesting than that of Reeves.
* That is a very young Brad Harris in the GIF at the bottom left of this page, proving to an amazed Jane Russell that he is as much of a grower as a shower.
** The Giant of Metropolis followed The Centurion (1961 / scene) — where he is credited as "Mitchell Gordon" on the Italian posters — and Atlas against the Cyclops (1962 / full film).
In The Giant of Metropolis, in any event, craggy-faced Mitchell's muscles are easily just as droolably impressive as those of Reeves, as is the smoothness of the skin of the parts of his hairless body we see onscreen. (As the film naturally lacks a full frontal, one can only fantasize about how thorough Mitchell's shaving regime was — considering the times, however, there was probably an unsightly, nose-tickling swath remaining.)
 
"No one is more powerful than me. I have enslaved all the people of the world."
Yotar (Roldano Lupi)
 
The Giant of Metropolis is a rarity, to say the least, in that it is an odd amalgamation of science fiction and peplum, something we only ever remember seeing before in the Luigi Cozzi-directed Lou Ferrigno flick, Hercules (1983 / trailer), one of the few movies we caught in a cinema that we ended up walking out on. The Giant of Metropolis, if nothing else, is a far more enjoyable slice of kiddy trash than that version of Hercules. (Although, who knows: today, almost 40 years after that theatre experience, we might actually find the Lou Ferrigno movie enjoyable. Tastes change.)
 
"Perhaps, before we are destroyed, Yotar will realize he has been mistaken. He's not evil. He's only blinded by science."
 
Nevertheless, one is hard pressed to flat out say that The Giant of Metropolis is a good movie, though it is easy to lay the blame on the main (but not only) reason why: with six people working on the screenplay, the narrative is an obvious case of too many cooks spoil the brew. It's a mess: it's slow moving and convoluted, disconnected and illogical, and with brimming with turgid dialogue — you name a flaw a screenplay can have, and The Giant of Metropolis probably suffers it.
Still, the inanely irrational narrative is easy enough to follow; indeed, the third-rate DVD release we watched was dubbed only in German and had no subtitles in any language, not even for the long explanatory Italian text that scrolls interminably on the screen before the movie actually begins, but we nevertheless were able to follow the narrative.* (Here we should probably admit that unlike most Americans living in Berlin, we speak and understand German. But we assume the movie would be equally comprehensible in its English dub.)
*
What one cannot read onscreen, one can read online: "In 20,000 B.C., on the continent of Atlantis, now lost beneath the waters of the ocean, there lived a people who had developed an amazingly advanced civilization and who ruled all other people on earth... Obro, a man born in the east dared to probe the mystery of the City of Death. His gigantic strength and courage were pitted against Yotar, the evil King, in a struggle to the finish.... When the scientists of Metropolis attempted to penetrate the secret of death, nature rebelled, causing universal destruction... Love alone triumphed... And remained the sole source of life."
And what a narrative it is, indeed. And as it starts, Metropolis cum Atlantis is still dry land. The movie opens with a long line of men seen marching along the edge of a barren landscape, and as soon as they get close enough to be identifiable, the elderly leader (Mario Meniconi) collapses and dies — prior to his last breath, however, he manages to give a lengthy explanatory speech that more or less repeats everything told in the Italian scroll before conceding his leadership to his "son", Obro (Mitchell), and bidding him to continue to Metropolis to change the city's evil ways. To pad a few minutes of time, the unity of the group is lost and half turn around while Obro and a few stragglers continue onwards — only to be reduced to skeletons by the deadly magnetic cloud the city of Metropolis uses to do away with unwanted trespassers.
But wait! Obro awakens unscathed! And before Yotar (Roldano Lupi [8 Feb 1909 – 13 Aug 1989] of Women of Devil's Island a.k.a. Le prigioniere dell'isola del diavolo [1962 / full film]), the dictatorial ruler of the city of science can finish saying "Can there be a blood stronger than our own? Perhaps we are confronting an entirely new force in the world surrounding us?", Obro is a prisoner of Metropolis, a city populated by revived dead people (huh?) without a will of their own.
 
"No matter how much you torture me, you will suffer worse. Some day, you will rule a city of the dead. You will reign over a wasteland. Your power is based on a criminal use of science. It will destroy you! You will die miserably."
Obro (Gordon Mitchell)
 
In general, the "action" of the movie, like the stilted and pretentious dialogue, is laughable at best. After a shackled Obro conveys a message of warning to the insulted Yotar, who plans to grant his pre-pubescent son Elmos (Carlo "Marietto" Angeletti) immortality by replacing his son's brain with the brain of his (as in Yotar's) semi-dead father — maybe something got lost in the translation here, but that's what we understood — forces Obro to fight a giant (Aldo "Kronos" Pedinotti [30 Mar 1940 – June 2007]). Obro overcomes the giant, but loses the subsequent battle with a half-dozen cannibalistic dwarfs, who are about to chow down on their conquest when Yotar, as evil kings are always apt to do in bad films (e.g., King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword [2017]), decides Obro should be spared…
 
"Stranger! At last you shall learn there is a strength mightier than yours, a living creature that will crush you and who will make you see that you are nothing."
Yotar (Roldano Lupi)
 
As perhaps to be expected, an imprisoned Obro gives Yotar's wife, Queen Texen (Liana Orfei of Mill of the Stone Women a.k.a. Il mulino delle donne di pietra [1960 / trailer]), who recognizes the insanity of her husband, the opportunity to help Obro escape and literally go underground. A pep talk later by Egon (Furio Meniconi [22 Feb 1924 – 12 Dec 1981, of And God Said to Cain a.k.a. E Dio disse a Caino... [1970 / German trailer]), an equally observant upper-level underling of Yotar, Obro is slinking around the secret passageways of the castle eliminating the guards and soldiers one by one (literally so, as they seldom attack en mass). Somewhere along the way, Yotar's daughter Mecede (Bella Cortez,* below, not from the film) does a modern dance as foreplay to what is inferred to become a rather lifeless off-screen orgy and then soon flies the coop. In a totally unexpected and truly original twist of the narrative, she ends up hiding in the same underground cave as Obro, where the two promptly fall in love.
* Cuban-born beauty Alicia Paneque, above, who changed her name to Bella Cortez when she entered the Italian film biz, made about 11 films — including two more with Gordon Mitchell, Vulcan, Son of Jupiter (1962 / full movie) and Ali Baba and the Seven Saracens (1964 / trailer), and one of Christopher Lee's most obscure Italo-horrors, Challenge the Devil a.k.a. Katarsis (1963 / trailer) — before marrying, retiring from films, and moving to obscurity in the US. She never did another movie, but for that she does do Facebook.
The Giant of Metropolis is so anti-science and so pro-faith that it could easily be mistaken as a Christian film, but no, as directed by Umberto Scarpelli (25 May 1904 – 15 May 1980), it is an extremely static movie filled with long shots and long takes, excess moralizing and excessive portending of doom (none of which Yotar listens to), and extremely incompetently staged fight scenes. It is not surprising that Scarpelli was thereafter once again relegated to assistant director for the remainder of his career, for while he might be able to achieve a balanced screen and does occasionally toss in an interesting 360-degree shot, he never manages to imbue the movie with any real life (as is perhaps fitting for a movie about a city full of somnambulants), not even during the climactic destruction of the city.
The true heroes of the movie, when it comes to the people who had something to do with the making of The Giant of Metropolis and who probably gave the movie all the aspects that make the movie interesting (aside from Cortez's cleavage and Mitchell's muscles), are probably the cinematographer Oberdan Troiani (23 Sept 1917 – 28 Feb 2005), the costume designer Giovanna Natili, and set designer Giorgio Giovannini (26 May 1925 – 31 Mar 2007). Without doubt, it is the sets, costumes and cinematography that truly make this movie so different, so bizarre, so striking — and all that, combined with the cleavage and the muscles and the almost hallucinatory dialogue, is what gives the relatively slow-moving movie its fun factor.
Troiani, for example, does wonders with his camera, taking full effect of the lurid colors and swirling fog and shadowy sets. One has the feeling that had the direction only been a bit more creative or experimental, he would have easily mastered any task the director might have requested. (True, the cinematography does stumble during the ineffectual climax, which uses some overly obvious stock footage of seaside waves, but then the climax is narrative bullocks as it is. Really: the continent and/or city sinks into the sea, but there happens to be a nearby beach for specific characters to retreat to via underground secret passageways? That they reach from a flooding courtyard?)
As for the sets, they might scream low budget and are continually revamped for different scenes, but they are truly a visual treat and work very well. That they are so impressive becomes less of a surprise when one looks at the other projects that Giovannini was involved in as production designer or art director over the course of his career, which spanned from before the masterpiece Black Sunday (1960 / trailer) through The Last Man on Earth (1964) and Planet of the Vampires (1965 / trailer) and past Fellini's Satyricon (1969 / trailer) and Casanova (1976 / trailer) to The Name of the Rose (1986 / trailer) before ending with The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988 / trailer).
As for the costumes supplied by the unknown Giovanna Natili, they are a total hoot. Like the weaponry of the lowly guards and soldiers, the outfits worn by the upper echelons serving the Yotar are as memorable as they are uncomfortable, impractical and totally ridiculous. Oddly enough, for all the enjoyable "fashion" excesses of the men, the women usually remain in bikini-inspired outfits and either loosely diaphanous or tight-fitting wraps typical of most Italian peplum — but, then, who really wants to look at hot women dressed ridiculously?
The Giant of Metropolis is far from a good movie, but despite its numerous flaws it is both enjoyable and interesting to watch, and in many ways almost verges on uniqueness. Unluckily, at least the versions we have stumbled upon (on our DVD and all over the web), the film stock itself is well past its prime. But though scratched and faded, it still reveals that The Giant of Metropolis was once a colorful movie of visual delight. (Its narrative incompetence, on the other hand, will never dilute.) We recommend it, if with reserve.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

More or Less "Best of" 2021


"Best of" is always relative here at a wasted life, as the films we give good reviews don't always show up in our end of the year round-up while films we trash do. This is because our choice is based less on quality than staying power: how often we think back upon a film, or the general feeling it stirs when we think about it again. Likewise, we usually watch so much crap that coming up with a "Top 10" is almost close to impossible — a problem exacerbated by the fact that some years (like 2021) we don't actually review all that many films: of the 48 blog entries in 2021, only 24 were actual feature film reviews.
All that aside, here is our selection: the nine movies we watched in 2021 that we found the most noteworthy, for whatever reason, and in no particular order. Click the linked titles to read the original reviews.

 

Escape Room
(USA, 2019)

 

"Escape Room is a nail-biting blast."
a wasted life (6 March 2021)

Trailer to
Escape Room:


The Bar
(Spain, 2017)

"A great film for our age of paranoia and conspiracy theories."
a wasted life (17 April 2021) 

Trailer to
The Bar:

 

All My Friends Are Dead
(Poland, 2020)
 

"Definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but if you are the type that enjoys a blackly funny body count, this tightly shot grotesque will probably offer you a pleasant evening's viewing."
a wasted life (18 June 2021)

Trailer to
All My Friends Are Dead:


Exhibitionisten Attacke
(Germany, 2000)

"The apogee of filmmaking inability, and a visual and moving illustration of a total lack of anything remotely professional, be it the mildest capacity to tell a story, act, direct, do special effects or gore, anything."
a wasted life (12 July 2021) 

5 minutes of total inability:


Little Monsters
(Australia, 2019)

"An enjoyable rom-zom-com that is much better than it should be, above all due to the screen presence of Lupita Nyong'o, looking absolutely smashing in her yellow summer dress."
a wasted life (1 August 2021)

Trailer to
Little Monsters:


Ánimas
(Spain, 2018)
 

"Hardly nondescript, easy-to-accept cinematic fodder, the movie will best appeal to those who like their movies different. Imagine a lazy, no-budget Wes Anderson directing a Spanish-language horror thriller, and then you get a slight idea of what to expect."
a wasted life (29 August 2021)

Trailer to
Ánimas:


The Corpse Vanishes
(USA, 1942)

"To simply dismiss The Corpse Vanishes as a threadbare Lugosi vehicle that pulls out a cheap version of every cliché ever found in any other Lugosi film and barely manages to string them together to make a less-than-coherent and extremely ridiculous plot actually does the movie great disfavor."
a wasted life (13 September 2021)

Trailer to
The Corpse Vanishes:


The White Buffalo
(USA, 1977)
 

"Go in expecting nothing, you might even find it enjoyable."
a wasted life (6 October 2021)

Trailer to
The White Buffalo:


Cave of the Living Dead
(Germany / Yugoslavia, 1964)

"All in all, Cave of the Living Dead is far more an enjoyable film than it is a good one. It will surely appeal to the child within you, if not to the adult fan of somewhat tacky Eurotrash films that you are now."
a wasted life (24 Nov 2021)

Full movie:

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Saint Sinner (USA, 2002)

A Sci-Fi television movie, which made it to Europe as a DVD release, based on a film treatment by Clive Barker, and his name draw is fully exploited in the film's true full (and rather clumsy) title, Clive Barker Presents Saint Sinner.
Seeing how uneven "Clive Barker flicks" generally tend to be (take for example, The Book of Blood [2009]), it is understandable that one might approach this relatively obscure and for the most part forgotten slab of small-screen horror with trepidation. Unexpectedly enough, however, particularly considering its pay-TV origins, Saint Sinner proves to be more entertaining than one might expect. Of course, you have to swallow a lot of pretty bizarre (perhaps stupid) ideas incorporated to drive the narrative, but if the concept that some "Pacific Northwest" monastery anno 1815 has a working Time Portal in their repository of relics sounds okay to you, then you probably shouldn't have to many objections to any plot point of the film.
Trailer to
Saint Sinner:
Saint Sinner opens by introducing us to the undeniably delicious young monk, Brother Tomas Alcala, (Greg Serano of Undocumented [2010 / trailer]) lounging almost nude in the sun on a field, eating a ruby red apple as he enjoys the down-blouse view of the swinging breasts of a wench washing clothes at the nearby riverside.
Yep, it is pretty obvious that Tomas is not much of a Godly monk, much less a saint. So it is hardly surprising that one evening, for no truly logical reason, the impulsive lad breaks all monastery rules and enters the relics repository with his cellmate and not-so-warm "brother" Gregory (Antonio Cupo of American Mary [2012 / trailer], photo below not from this film). Long story short, Tomas accidentally frees two ravenous succubae, Munkar (Mary Mara of Bound [1996 / trailer]) and Nakir (Rebecca Harrell Tickell of Sugar Creek [2007 / trailer]), who kill Tomas's bro and then hightail to the 21st century. Guess who follows them...
Munker and Nakir basically fuck-feast their way through the johns of Seattle, while Tomas promptly gets arrested as the main suspect of their first meal. Luckily, thanks to a shared hallucination of a killer slug and other stuff, he manages to turn one of the pursuing detectives, Dt. Rachel Dressler (Gina Ravera of Showgirls [1995 / trailer]), to his side. The question is, who is hunting who now?
How closely the narrative follows Barker's original treatment we know not, but luckily teleplay-writers Doris Egan and Hans Rodionoff (the latter the director of Trance [2010 / trailer]) don't go the stranger-in-a-strange-land path and pretty much allow all three fish-out-of-water acclimatize to the new century more or less instantly.
Likewise, while the narrative is very much one of redemption for Tomas, the redemption aspect is not overplayed. There is a bit of the typical God's will and/or plan platitudinizing, but then that is to be expected in any film featuring demons and a Christian monk with a mission. If one is willing to accept the idea of zombies or vampires or werewolves or whatever horror is your pleasure, then one really should be able to accept the idea of God for 1:30 hours.
Though saddled with a lowly budget of only $4 million, director Joshua Butler (Deathlands [2003 / trailer]) makes a better flick than might be expected. For the most part, neither the acting nor the CGI are in any way embarrassing. Neither, for that matter, is the overall look of the movie: "real" feature films often look cheaper and cheesier than this thing. The plot may be a bit cliché — killer demonesses kill and feed on men, hero tries to stop them — but once the film hits the 21st century and the fucks-from-hell start having fun, the slime and icky scenes go a long way to keep the viewer entertained.
Is Saint Sinner scary? No, but is does have its repugnancy-factor and a few nightmarish scenes that do shock — for example, the first John and the poor rent-a-cop on the Ferris wheel. The big showdown is less knock-down than possibly expected, but it does involve the birthing of a "baby" that should have been aborted and a lot of slime. The ending is a bit of a happy downer, but it does help to make the movie seem a bit less TV.
On the whole, however, the story of Saint Sinner is less a solid narrative than a thread used to string together the diverse shock and effects scenes. But that the film strings them together half-way successfully already makes the movie a lot better than many a mainstream summer blockbuster. If we gave stars, Saint Sinner would be two of four; on a peter-meter scale, the first scene did get our imagination lubricated, but everything in the film after Tomas pulls on his tunic for the first time is pretty much sex-negative: you have sex with women, you gonna die.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Babe of Yesteryear: Gigi Darlene, Part II: 1964

Photo above found at
Pulp International. Photographer unknown. 
Blonde Babe of Yesteryear Gigi Darlene (4 Mar 1943 – 1 Jan 2002) was one the multitude of attractive, intriguing actresses of New York's low budget exploitation film scene of the sixties. We would hazard to say, at the risk of offending many, that her thespian skills were definitely less impressive than her knockout figure and alluring presence.* That said, her vacuous sexiness is a perfect fit to the classic, surreal roughie to which she perhaps owes her lasting appeal: Doris Wishman's Bad Girls Go to Hell (1965). 
* To present an opposing view, the Rialto Report is of the opinion: "Occasionally an actress was noted for her looks. Less frequently she was notable for her acting ability. Gigi Darlene had both. She was a star. She was blonde, beautiful, and expressive. A pouting, petulant kitten. She combined an unexpected innocence with a knowing and sultry confidence. The monochrome screen lit up with her feline presence. Her talents were in demand and she made regular appearances in New York sexploitation films."
A ubiquitous presence in NYC sleaze films from around 1962 to 67, she seemingly disappeared overnight. Something that the sexploitation film-makers of the time noticed enough that amidst the opening credits of Michael Findlay's 1968 roughie The Curse of Her Flesh (trailer), which are presented in the form of graffiti scrawled on a filthy restroom wall, and between all the other crude comments, a simple question is scrawled: "Whatever happened to Gigi Darlene?" It was a question that became a cult question, but also long remained a rhetorical one. The latter, at least, until 11 May 2014, when the fantastic sleuths of at the Rialto Report finally answered the question, Whatever Happened to Gigi Darlene?
Music not from the film –
John Barry's Swinging City
 with images from The Curse of Her Flesh:
The bio at imdb is based entirely on their research: "Gigi Darlene was born Heli Leonore Weinreich on March 4, 1943 in Berlin, Germany. [...] After threatening to run away from home at age sixteen, Gigi in 1959 was allowed by her mother to immigrate to Flushing, Queens, New York City, where she lived with a couple of family friends. [...] Darlene eventually moved to Manhattan; she lived on West 43rd Street and began posing for photo shoots for various men's magazines. Gigi branched out as an exotic dancer making the rounds at clubs in New York, New Jersey, and Long Island. While dancing at clubs Darlene met and befriended future soft-core movie actress Darlene Bennett.* [...] Darlene started acting in assorted low-budget sexploitation features that were made throughout the early to mid 1960's. [...] She often co-starred with Darlene Bennett in these films. [Heli's acting / dancing /modeling pseudonym, Gig Darlene, was inspired as much by the 1958 film Gigi (trailer) as by her good friend Darlene Bennett.) Gigi was working as a featured dancer at a club in New Jersey when she first met her future husband Edwin Greal, who did a stage show as a hypnotist using the pseudonym Charles Lamont. Darlene and Greal got married on August 29, 1966. Gigi moved to Fort Lee, New Jersey after marrying Greal and agreed to stop acting in movies. Greal and Darlene eventually formed a stage act together and went on the road. [...] They resided in Vegas for five years [as of 1975] and continued to do stage shows before eventually moving to South Florida in 1980. Alas, shortly after moving to South Florida Greal died at age 56 on December 18, 1980. [...] Gigi in 1981 went on to obtain a Real Estate license in Fort Lauderdale and sold time-share apartments on and off for twenty years. Moreover, Darlene was a member of the Screen Actors Guild and worked as an extra in movies** that were shot in South Florida. Gigi died from stomach cancer at a hospice in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on New Year's Day in 2002. She was 58 years old. Her body was cremated and her ashes were scattered off the pier in Deerfield Beach, Florida into the Atlantic Ocean." 
* On 11 April 2021, the fantastic sleuths of at the Rialto Report also managed another scoop with their online article Black and White Dreams of Darlene: Looking for the Bennett Sisters.
** None of which are listed on any filmography of hers that we could find. 
 
 
Go here for:
 Gigi Darlene, Part I: 1961-63
 
 
Artist Studio Secrets 
(1964, dir. J.M. Kimbrough)
Despite its dated innocence, Artist Studio Secrets is easily found online at any number of virus-prone porn sites. This movie seems to be the only directorial project of the unknown J.M. Kimbrough, a name which reappears on the credits list for the faces that appear in Diane Keaton's odd but enjoyable directorial debut, Heaven (1987). J.M. Kimbrough also plays the lead male of Artist Studio Secrets, the artist Percy Green.
Diane Keaton's
Heaven (1987):
Artist Studio Secrets was, at one point or another, distributed by the infamous Harry H. Novak (12 Jan 1928 – 26 Mar 2014), which is why, way back in 2014, we took a look at it in R.I.P.: Harry H. Novak, Part II – 1956 to 1964, where among other things we mentioned that:
"Movies Unlimited has the plot: 'Poor Percy Green (J.M. Kimbrough). He's an artist who only gets turned on when his female models are clothed, so his wife makes sure the lovelies parading before his palette all show up undressed in this masterpiece of campy Sixties softcore.' The Psychotronic Guide notes that 'one of the two models is cross-eyed', while lor of New York City calls the movie an 'entertaining, extremely minor silent nudie', explaining 'adult movie audiences were seriously starved for shots of skin in the early '60s. Artist Studio Secrets provides more than enough T&A to qualify as a diversion, and it has nostalgia value today. [The] film has some silly narration, but is mainly a repository of models doffing and putting back on their clothing for over an hour, mixed in with some pleasant historical shots of Greenwich Village. The director/star portraying the "artist" hams it up for the duration, but his presence is not all that distracting from the pulchritude. [...] Film is more suggestive than its nudist-camp style ancestors in the genre, as evidenced by the two lead models exchanging massages — most of the nudies of this era were "hands off" mode to avoid censorship. One of the most popular of the NY stable, Gigi Darlene, makes an uncredited appearance* and steals the show with a very sexy dance.'"
* Since then we here at a wasted life have come to realize that she uses an alias and is credited as "Leonore Rheine". That's her shapely behind above.
To add to what we wrote way back then, Something Weird has written: "Greenwich Village artist Percy Green has a problem: 'I find it hard working with models who are completely nude. A nude body just doesn't excite me. I have... well, a clothes fetish, so to speak. Only a girl clad in panties and bra excites me, and even a girl in that situation doesn't excite me unless I'm the same way.' So says Percy within the first few minutes of Artist Studio Secrets, when blonde Billie stops by Percy's Greenwich Village studio, gets nekkid, and causes Percy to make comical faces. Percy [...] loves, loves, loves making comical faces. [...] Artist Studio Secrets looks and feels like it was made up on the spot, which probably isn't a bad thing since the emphasis is always on the girls getting naked, no matter the reason why. Artist Studio Secrets is also the first film produced by Lou Campa, whose epics include Mini-Skirt Love (1967 / full film), Cool It Baby (1967 / trailer below), and Venus in Furs (1967 / trailer below). Mr. Campa also plays either Sam or Mike or Bob under the moniker 'Lou Champion'." 
Trailers to Lou Campa's
Venus in Furs and Cool It Baby:
Also in the cast: forgotten Southern Californian beat folk singer Julie Meredith — "born in Haiti but raised in California, Meredith was a folk singer who specialized in old English and traditional world music; she also acted in the 1964 film Artist Studio Secrets".
Her forgotten LP Songs of Vice and Virtue can still sometimes be found at thrift stores near you! Listen to a song medley of hers here, at Unearthed in the Atomic Attic. 
Somewhere along the way the movie was screened in Akron at the long-gone Astor Theatre, where it was screened with Some Like It Cool (1962) — we assume not the psychotronic 1977 Tony Curtis vehicle a.k.a. Casanova & Co. (trailer) but, rather, the early and now-lost Michael Winner (30 Oct 1935 – 21 Jan 2013) nudist film starring torch-singer Julie Wilson (21 Oct 1924 – 5 April 2015).
Julie Wilson sings
You Don't Know What Love Is:
Also found revealing skin in Artist Studio Secrets is another regular of the New York sexploitation film scene of the time with a "German" name, Marlene Eck (a.k.a. Lisa Vohn), who disappeared from sexploitation not long after Gigi but, unlike Gigi and some other female sexploitation regulars of the day, never achieved "cult" appreciation. In fact, we mention her only to have an excuse to present the hilarious trailer to a later project she took part in, Joseph P. Mawra's 1965 "documentary" about lesbians, Chained Girls. As mentioned on the One Sheet, "Because of the tenuous theme of Chained Girls all cast names [including Eck's] have been withheld by the producer!"
Trailer to
Chained Girls (1965):
Remember, guys: "Wherever girls and young women are to be found in any number, it is quite possible that lesbians can be found."


Crazy Wild and Crazy
(1964, dir. Barry Mahon)
(Available for free at the Internet Archives.) This movie was, at one point or another, distributed by the infamous Harry H. Novak (12 Jan 1928 – 26 Mar 2014), which is why, way back in 2014, we took a look at it in R.I.P.: Harry H. Novak, Part III – 1965 to 1966, where we failed to mention Gigi. 
Trailer to
Crazy Wild and Crazy:
What we wrote there: "Novak distributes another Barry Mahon movie. The plot, according to TCM: 'Bob Meyer (Tony Bogart) buys himself some movie equipment, hires 20 models, and enthusiastically sets out to make nude movies. When his first film is completed, he is startled at the results. He has produced a wild comedy: a volleyball game is ridiculously speeded up, while swimming and diving scenes have been caught in slow motion. Four images of the same woman suddenly appear together, and then seem to turn upside-down.' Crazy Wild and Crazy is one of those films that have aged so badly that they make excellent moving wall deco for parties.
"Crazy Wild and Crazy premièred in Los Angeles on 4 March 1966 and was, at one point, banned in Maryland. Among the on-screen pulchritude: both of the non-identical Bennett Twins (Darlene & Dawn), two long-forgotten lasses active in exploitation in the mid-sixties, often in the same film, like this one here or Doris Wishman's Another Day Another Man (1966 / trailer). We here at a wasted life wonder where they are now..."*
* The last sentence, the bit about "wonder where they are now", has been answered this year by the great Rialto Report, which, with the diligence of a true detective, found them and spoke with them. Go here to: Black & White Dreams: Looking for the Bennett Sisters. The photo of the Darlene & Dawn above, BTW, also comes from a Doris Wishman movie, in this case My Brother's Wife (1966 / trailer), poster below, in which the two share some onscreen tenderness — if one ever speak of "tenderness" is a Wishman movie.
Over at Something Weird, which, as to be expected, sells the movie, Handsome Harry Archer explains what makes Crazy Wild and Crazy so different, so special, so wild and crazy: "After making a handful of nudie-cuties, director Herschell Gordon Lewis and producer David F. Friedman summed things up eloquently with their autobiographical take on the skinflick business, Boin-n-g (1963/ see R.I.P. H.G. Lewis Part II). Director-producer Barry Mahon does something similar with Crazy Wild and Crazy, which the opening credits inform us will feature 'the unusual camera work of Bob Meyer.' (Who?) Sure enough, the guy who dates a mannequin head and strangles women in Mahon's The Sex Killer (1965 / trailer) says that he's Bob Meyer and wants to show us his new film. His new film, however, is... well, odd. It starts off like a typical Mahon boobfest: naked models lounging around anonymous New York apartments and Florida nudist camps. Hey look! There's Delores Carlos smiling happily in the buff. And hey! GIGI DARLENE and Darlene Bennett try to open a coconut in the nude [...]. And over there, Blood Feast's (1963 / trailer) Sandy Sinclair plays volleyball with he-man Roy Savage.... But then everything starts to go wrong. Very wrong. Shots start to rotate upside down.... Nudists play softball in fast motion.... There are multiple exposures of the same naked girl in the same naked shot.... Darlene Bennett and friends bounce up and down in slow motion.... Oops! Now they're bouncing around in fast motion.... And so on and so forth for about an hour.... Scored with funny music and comical sound effects, it's also interspersed with Mr. Meyer looking sheepishly embarrassed: 'I don't seem to have done anything right!' Why, it's a veritable laugh riot. [...] Watching this — which, like most nudie-cuties, can get dangerously mesmerizing — one almost wonders if this is what a skinflick would look like on acid. Or, perhaps, like the title says, is this what would happen if a nudie film was capable of getting mentally ill. [...] Mahon was a genius. An absolute genius."
Of a few names who took part in Crazy Wild and Crazy, some trivia: 
Assuming they are one and the same person — possible but doubtful — Roy Savage was around 13 years old when he made his first movie, the Gibraltar-set kiddie adventure flick The Clue of the Missing Ape (1953 / six minutes), waiting ten years to return to the screen, now nude and suntanned and  usually in Florida, for a few nudie-cuties before disappearing again.
Rita Bennett (born 26 Jan 1941), no relation to Darlene and Dawn Bennett, knew Gigi from the strip clubs and once said: "The dancing money was pretty good, and the work was easy. But the real rewards came from the men who frequented the clubs. In between acts, you needed to get them to spend money on champagne, so you had to be flirty with them. They'd invite you out for meals or to shows, and buy you gifts like jewelry and furs. Sometimes they'd offer to pay your rent. (Heli [Gigi]) was one of the most popular girls I saw; she always had a string of men after her. [Rialto Report]" A life-long alcoholic, Rita died in 2017 and, as no one claimed her body, was buried in a potter's field. For more on her life, read the Rialto Report's The Sexploitation Film Made on a Desert Island in New York City.
Sandy Sinclair, famously enough, had her eye stabbed while in the bathtub before having her legs removed in the first scene of in H.G. Lewis's Blood Feast (1963), the movie that is perhaps her greatest claim to fame (R.I.P. H.G. Lewis Part II).
Like Sandy, Floridian
Maria Stinger posed often for Bunny Yeager (13 March 1929 – 25 May 2014) — unlike Sandy, she even did some bondage shots for Irving Klaw (9 Nov 1910 – 3 Sept 1966). Of unstable mental health, her second suicide attempt in 1967 (her first was in 1964) was a success.
That fabulous fountain of information, The Rialto Report, once spoke with the "exploitation movie jack of all trades" Charles Davis Smith (18 June 1930 – 20 Sept 2017), who explained how Crazy Wild and Crazy got its style: "[Barry Mahon] handed the negatives over to me, saying that the footage was, 'crazy, wild and crazy.' It was nudie-type footage, and it featured all the usual suspects: Gigi Darlene, the Bennett sisters — Darlene and Dawn, another actress named Rita Bennett, and others. But I soon realized that half the footage was missing, so I gave it back to Barry saying I couldn't do anything with it. To my surprise, he said it didn't matter, and that I should just assemble it as best as I could. He gave me one instruction: I just needed to make sure that there were 'plenty of nude girls' in it. So I edited it together using the plot device of a photographer who's giving advice on how to photograph women. And we called it, Crazy, Wild and Crazy! That was typical Barry Mahon..."
The advert directly above (from Screen 13) shows an odd pairing indeed: while Crazy, Wild and Crazy is a happy-go-lucky nudie cutie, Anton Holden's directorial debut Aroused (1966 / full film / German poster below) is famous for its sleaze factor. While seldom acknowledged, William Lustig took a lot from Aroused when he made his infamous slasher, Maniac (1980 / trailer)... or did he take a lot from Barry Mahon's The Sex Killer (1965 / trailer)?
Trailer to
Aroused (1966):
 

Honeymoon of Horror
(1964, dir. Irwin Meyer)
Not to be confused with Pete Perry's
Honeymoon of Terror (1961), poster below. This film here was re-released at some point with nude inserts featuring, among others, an uncredited Gigi Darlene; that version, entitled Orgy of the Golden Nudes, now seems to be a lost film, though the trailer can still be found. (Like here at Cinemacuts; one actually sees a nude Gigi hanging around a pool.)
If you happen to have a copy of the June '67 issue of Playboy lying about, it has some topless-babe shots from the latter, lost version. (Playboy mentions that "Orgy of the Golden Nudes merely used the nudist camp setting as background for a horror story".)
Other a.k.a. titles, though of which version we know not, include The Deadly Circle, The Golden Nymphs, and Frolic of the Golden Girls.
Michael Weldon's terse description in the first edition of The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film is as follows: "Threatening phone calls and queer accidents plague sculptor Emile Duvre's new bride Lilli. It seems that each of Emile's friends has a reason to want her dead. The linkup with a series of statuettes seems to have been lifted from Screaming Mimi (1958 / trailer). Robert Parsons and Abbey Heller star as Emile and Lilli. Filmed in Miami and Coconut Grove, Florida.  An adults-only feature."
Trailer to
Honeymoon of Horror:
"Filmed entirely in Florida" — but for the later inserts. Emile Duvre's brother in the movie, Max Duvre, is played by the movie's scriptwriter, Alexander Panas.  Parts of the movie were shot at the home of Hungarian-born Baron Joseph De B. Dobronyi (20 April 1922 – 29 May 2010), the same location used for Deep Throat (1972 / soundtrack).
As seen by the advert found at Chateau Vulgaria, at least at Fabian's Mohawk Drive-In, Orgy of the Golden Nudes was screened as part of a triple feature with Graeme Ferguson's "confusing, contrived, and hopelessly complicated mystery drama" The Seducers (1962) and the fabulously terrible German movie Isle of Sin (1960).
Some people at Letterboxd have seen the movie. There, James, who didn't dislike the movie, says: "It's a cheap low budget horror movie but the acting is pretty decent, the story is pretty good and the characters are fairly interesting. It kind of ends up being A Bucket of Blood (1959 / trailer / see: R.I.P. Dick Miller Part I) without the humor."
On the other hand, Michael Elliot, also writing at Letterboxd, definitely didn't like what he saw: "Honeymoon of Horror has a terrific poster, [...] but sadly the end result is a rather boring and lifeless affair that never takes off. [...] There are all sorts of problems with this film but there's no question that the screenplay is the biggest. The film is built up as a mystery yet we never really care what is going on, whether or not the wife is crazy or whether the husband is trying to kill her. These are all important things to the 'mystery' and the fact that the viewer never cares about that just shows how lousy this movie is. [...] Heller and Parsons were decent enough in their roles and there are a couple bloody murders but these things just aren't enough to save this picture, its lackluster directing and its overall slow vibe."
"Befitting its later alternate title of Orgy of the Golden Nudes, the Florida-lensed indie is more interested in asses of lasses than knots of plot, despite the utilization of Monroe Myers (of Mission Mars [1967 / trailer]) as, more or less, Exposition Cop. [...] One could draw a direct line between this film and Blood Feast, and I don't just mean on a map of the Sunshine State. The former traffics in the garish gore that Herschell Gordon Lewis pioneered one year prior, but with less panache (yes, panache) and considerably less in delivering what's promised on its bill of goods. [...] Still, it's not a vacuum of entertainment. Where else — in today's society, especially — will one hear a woman speak the line 'Yes, but he's just a minor sex maniac' as a point of justification? [Rod Lott @ Flick Attack]"
At the Sunset Drive-in in Columbia, South Carolina, Honeymoon of Horror was paired with William Castle's The Night Walker (1964 / trailer), Barbara Stanwyck's final feature film credit.
At the Oaks in Pasadena, CA., it got paired with The Nudie Cuties — a non-title if there ever was one. ("The Nudie Cuties", however, are credited as part of the cast of the 1962 nudie "drama", The Wild and the Naked... "Filmed in Latin America", in a land called Texas.)
The babe on the horse below is Christy Foushee, who plays Tutti-Frutti Johnson in Orgy of the Golden Nudes; the photo is by Bunny Yeager and not from the movie. Reuben Guberman (21 Aug 1926 – 19 Match 2000), who plays Baron von Turko in Honeymoon of Horror, wrote the screenplay to the hixploitation classic, Shanty Tramp (1967 /
credits).
The waitress that gets killed along the way is played by Yanka Mann, who's also found in two psychotronic anti-classics, Veronica Lake's final film Flesh Feast (1970 / trailer) and the anti-gay oddity that is Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things (1971 / scene). 
Trailer to
Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things:
 
 
Raw Weekend
(1964, dir. Sidney Niehoff)
(While it lasts,
free online.) Raw Weekend was distributed by Novak's Boxoffice International Pictures, which is why we took a look at it way back in 2014 in R.I.P.: Harry H. Novak, Part II – 1956 to 1964, where we wrote: "The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures (Vol. 1, Pt. 1) explains the plot: 'A small movie crew shooting a love scene in a wooded valley with Tammy and Pete, is surprised by the appearance of Dolores, a semi-nude woman who wanders through the background. The crew follows her, in hopes of photographing her for the motion picture. They find Dolores and her friend, Lee (Gigi Darlene), sunbathing amidst the rocks and waterfalls, and the women invite the crew to picnic beside their cabin. After lunch Dolores and Lee row and swim in the lake while Tammy stays inside the cabin studying her script. Tammy grows restless, takes off her nightgown, and joins Dolores and Lee outside."
At MSN, Sandra Brennan of Rovi is of the opinion that Raw Weekend is 'an example of the rather tame nudie films (featuring lots of bare bosoms but no sex) that predated their hard-core cousins.'"
An obscure non-movie that surely would never have been missed, but somewhere along the way Something Weird unearthed it. At S.W., Lisa Petrucci writes: "Raw Weekend — A Robust Rosy Romp! Filmed in Ogle-Scope! [...] Part nudist flick / part nudie-cutie, Raw Weekend displays a surprising amount of flesh (with the incidental flash of full frontal!) for 1963."
Interestingly enough, more than one source — e.g., The Motion Picture Guide Annual 1990, ed. By Jay Robert Nash & Stanley R. Ross — claims that this little flick is one of the earliest film credits of future Andy Warhol Superstar Ondine (a.k.a. Robert Olivo [16 June 1937 – 28 Aug 1989]). As for the director Sidney Niehoff, he fell of the face of the earth after this, his directorial debut... as did almost everyone involved in this feast for real-boobs lovers
 
 
Nudes Inc. 
(1964, dir. Barry Mahon)
A.k.a.The Story of 8 Girls. It can be found for free here at the
Internet Archives. We took a look at Nudes Inc. way back in 2014 in R.I.P.: Harry H. Novak, Part II – 1956 to 1964, where we wrote:
"Possibly aka Broadway Pin-up Honeys, Pin-Up Camera and The Pin-up Factory [and The Story of 8 Models]. Yet again, we here at a wasted life have our doubts about to what extent Harry H. Novak had anything to do with this movie, but not only does the on-line magazine Funhouse believe Novak had his fingers in the pie, Rotten Tomatoes goes so far as the call this film 'A Harry Novak sexploitation classic'.
"The plot, according to The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures (Vol. 1, Pt. 1): 'Barbara Jo travels from her small southern hometown to New York and finds it difficult to find employment. Eventually she becomes desperate enough to call Nudes, Inc., the largest studio in the world producing pinup photographs. Barbara Jo (Monica Davis of The Dead One [1961 / trailer]) is at first reluctant to pose in the nude, but Mr. Lewis, the managing director, gives her a tour of the studio and convinces her of the studio's legitimacy. Mr. Lewis points out that the models are also employed elsewhere as school teachers, airline stewardesses, housewives and professional models. Barbara is reassured, and after lunch she begins work.'"
Nudes Inc. was directed by Barry Mahon (and written by his wife Clelle Mahon); Mahon (5 Feb 1921 – 4 Dec 1999), one of the original prisoners at Stalag Luft III whose stories served for the film The Great Escape (1963 / trailer) — Mahon allegedly loosely inspired the character played by Steve McQueen — had a long career in fringe filmmaking made everything from nudie-cuties like this to roughies to documentaries like Musical Mutiny (1970 / trailer) to decidedly odd kiddy films like The Wonderful Land of Oz (1969)." The last, BTW, is usually called "the worst Oz film ever made".
Barry Mahon's
The Wonderful Land of Oz (1969):

In John Szpunar's book Blood Sucking Freak: The Life and Films of the Incredible Joel M. Reed, the teller of tall tales himself, Mr. Reed (29 Dec 1933 – 13 Apr 2020), had the following to say about director Mahon and this very film: "Well, those were the softcore days. Some people like Doris Wishman did a whole lot of work. This was about the time Barry Mahon was the king. He was a great anti-Semite. He'd say, 'We have to work for those fucking Jews! They put their hands on everything!' But I don't see how he made another movie after Nudes Inc. That was pretty awful. They had a girl who would come in on an interview to be a model. She'd take her top off, you'd get a quick shot, and they'd bring another girl. That was the whole movie." BTW, for those of you who don't know, Joel M. Reed directed what might well be called one of the first forays into torture porn, the anti-classic slab of exploitation Bloodsucking Freaks (1976 /  trailer below).
Trailer to
Bloodsucking Freaks:
Over at imdb, good ol' lor mentions, "[...] Mahon made the same movie again a year later as Confessions of a Bad Girl (1965) but with significant improvements. In the 1965 version Judy Adler stars, it's a talkie (Nudes Inc. was shot MOS with narration added) and is a more honest presentation of the material. The b.s. level in Nudes Inc. is very high, as our helpful narrator tells us at least a dozen times how legitimate this company is [...], how hard it is for women in New York to make a living, and the wonderfulness of earning $50 to $300 a day disrobing for the camera 'with no strings attached'. So patrons of adult theaters of the day were essentially subjected to an hour of self-serving propaganda justifying the pornographer's role in our society. [...] The upside of this exercise is the chance to see beautiful breasts and nipples [...], and Mahon doesn't stint. Especially delivering the goods is lovely Gigi Darlene, whose orbs shot in low angle are still stimulating 50 years later. She is identified as Gigi by the narrator, and his reciting of her back story as a German refugee to America is surprisingly true."
 
 
White Slaves of Chinatown
(1964, writ. & dir. Joseph P. Mawra)
(Trailer to White Slaves of Chinatown can be found here.) It is probably impossible to truly say who made the first "roughie". In general, most people out there tend to claim it to be Russ Meyer's early classic, his B&W semi-hixploitation masterpiece Lorna (1964, opening scene below*); others, like we here at a wasted life, tend to see H.G. Lewis's far inferior semi-hixploitation film, Scum of the Earth (1963 / trailer), as the first modern roughie — a position that is now arguably endangered by the rediscovery of the once-lost, urban-set and relatively tame roughie Orgy at Lil's Place (1963 / NYC). Providing one views Meyer's fixation with fabulously bountiful breasts as simply a normal, heterosexual male thing and not a fetish, as we do here at a [vanilla] wasted life, then Joseph P. Mawra's White Slaves of Chinatown is probably the undisputed first "fetish roughie": a sexploitation roughie aimed at the S&M/B&D crowd. 
* The Rialto Report, as possibly to be expected, has an extremely interesting (and sadly tragic) article about the breathtakingly breasted star of that movie, Lorna Maitland, aptly enough entitled Whatever Happened to Lorna Maitland? Her Beauty, Tragedy and Mystery. 
Opening scene to
Lorna:
The main character of White Slaves of Chinatown, Olga, went on to appear in four more movies; of the five-film "series", the first three (including this one) featured Audrey Campbell (5 Aug 1929 – 8 June 2006) sashaying across the screen with her whips, chains and other torture accruements as Olga.
After White Slaves of Chinatown, which got re-titled in NYC to Olga's White Slaves due to the backlash of the Chinese community, came Mawra's Olga's Girls (1964 / trailer), Olga's House of Shame (1964 / full film), the now-lost Mme. Olga's Massage Parlor (1965 / trailer)* and, some years later and with the one-shot actress Lucy Eldridge in the titular mail role, Olga's Dance Hall Girls (1969 / trailer). And while Olga disappeared thereafter, never to reappear, she indisputably laid the lineage for her much more famous follow-up, Ilsa (Dyanne Thorne [14 Oct 1936 – 28 Jan 2020]). All Olga movies were produced by the legendary Z-film producer George Weiss (9 April 1921 – unknown), the man who also brought us W. Merle Connell's Test Tube Babies (1948 / trailer), Phil Tucker's** Dance Hall Racket (1953 / full movie, written by and starring Lenny Bruce) and one of a wasted life's favorite movies, Ed Wood's Glen or Glenda (1953 / trailer). In White Slaves of Chinatown, Weiss appears briefly as the doctor who bungles an illegal (and off-screen) abortion. ("Chalk up another one for this filthy old butcher!") 
* Clips of the movie can be found in Mawra's faux-mondo documentary, Mondo oscenità (1966 / trailer). 
** Name sound familiar? Of course it does — who hasn't seen his fabulous disasterpiece, Robot Monster (1953 / trailer)? 
Some music set to images from
 White Slaves of Chinatown:
For a long time, little information existed about the background of the film or the movies scriptwriter/director, Joseph P. Mawra. The Rialto Report — who else? — changed all that back in 2016 when they looked up the formerly recalcitrant director and interviewed him for their great piece, Whatever Happened to Joseph Mawra? The Man Who Created Olga, whence much of the info presented here comes — as well as the advert found below, of a screening at San Antonio's Prince Theatre.
According to them, Mawra's Olga films, "featuring a sadistic criminal, drug-runner, and brothel madam called Olga [...] were even more outrageous than their titles suggested – full of bondage, torture, sexual violence, and drug use. They also stood out for their striking black and white cinematography, disorienting camera angles, and a chilling lead performance by the striking Audrey Campbell. [...] The films shocked and thrilled audiences, were busted for obscenity, and were involved in court cases that dragged through the highest courts. [...] What kind of fevered mind could have been responsible for these films? Well, as it turns out, Joseph Mawra was a mild-mannered part-time joke writer who directed exploitation films in his spare time."
But to get to Gigi Darlene: billed as "Leonore Rhein", she has relatively big part in White Slaves of Chinatown as "the beautiful and buxom" Frenchy — she's in the trailer, should you ever get to see it — a kidnapped diplomat's daughter whose will Olga "bends and eventually breaks" and who "is forced to write letters to her father asking for money when she's not squirming topless in her squalid cell". Since the movie was shot without dialogue, and all the narration added post-production, the German accent of Teutonic blonde Gigi Darlene was not a problem to her character being French.
The plot: "The time: 1964. The place: New York City, a cold, snowy winter. Olga Petroff (Audrey Campbell) makes her living picking up wayward women just out of the women's discipline centers and forcing them to become prostitutes and drug dealers! If they refuse, there'll be hell to pay! Olga has her own private torture dungeon, which she frequents brandishing a maniacal smile and her trusty whip! She employs various torture racks and the old favorite, spinning women upside-down! For a film that's only 70 minutes long, a lot happens: [...] Olga falls in love with one of her innocent captives; Olga's female henchman helps one girl try to escape with dire results. And I didn't even mention the women shooting up heroin or the back alley abortion [...]! It may sound like these are filthy misogynistic smut movies, but the camp levels are through the roof! None of the violence has dated well, and none of the actresses display fear or pain realistically, so never fear, anything disturbing about these atrocities has been erased. [...] The film is entirely narrated, with no post-synch or live dialogue, and the melodramatic narration by Joel Holt [one of the directors of The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield (1968 / trailer)] is a real hoot, especially when he imitates dialogue by the characters when their mouths don't even open! [DVD Drive-in]"
But if DVD Drive-in found White Slaves of Chinatown entertaining, Pop Matters did not: "Get ready to be incredibly disappointed [...]. Those who have long dreamed of seeing these urban-grit girl fests in the privacy of their home, hoping they were warped and weird counterpoints to the non-metropolitan masochism of the later Ilsa series, may want a ribald recount. Bereft of even the slightest titillation factor (unless you are deep into S&M [...]) and poorly shot, filmed, and acted, the Olga movies [...] could best be described as monotonous in the most completely literal interpretation of that word."

 
Body of a Female
(1964, writ. & dir "J. Ellsworth" & "Julian Marsh") 
A lost film, regrettably, Body of a Female, an early "proto-roughie", is the first film project of four major names in the world of New York exploitation filmmaking: Michael Findlay (27 Aug 1937 – 16 May 1977) made his acting debut (as "Robert West"), co-writing debut (as "Francis Ellie") and director (as "Julian Marsh"), Roberta Findlay made her acting debut (as, of course "Anna Riva"), John Amero shows up the first time as co-author (sharing the "Francis Ellie" moniker), producer and co-director ("J. Ellsworth"), and John's bro and regular partner in filmic crime Lem Amero (24 Sept 1937 – 5 Aug 1989) debuts as actor.
Other trivia that must always be mentioned when talking of Michael Findlay: "On May 16, 1977, Michael Findlay was killed in a helicopter accident on the roof of the Pan Am Building in New York City. The accident occurred shortly after the 5:33 PM arrival of the New York Airways helicopter from John F. Kennedy Airport. It was in the process of taking on 21 passengers for the return trip when the landing gear failed and the aircraft tipped on its side while the rotors were still running. Findlay and two other passengers in the process of boarding were slashed to death as the spinning rotors detached and disintegrated. Another male passenger died later in hospital. A woman on the street was killed when hit by falling debris. [Wikipedia]"
"Thanks to the great work of our friends at the Rialto Report, from which the [above] is taken, we can note that the now-lost Body of a Female, the joint debut of John and Lem Amero and Roberta and Michael Findlay, made its New Jersey debut at the Little Theater — alongside a sexy Finnish arthouse film and Dorothy's Dilemma, of which I once again have no earthly notion. [Strublog]"
A still from Dorothy's Dilemma (above) recently went on sale at ebay, but it seems to be an unknown & forgotten & probably lost movie. Preludes to Ecstasy (1961 / clip), on the other hand, is not unknown or forgotten or lost. It's the Finnish Kuu on vaarallinen, a sexed-up remake of the sexed-up 1944 Finnish movie Possession aka Besaettelse (trailer). 
Has nothing to do with the movie —
Cy Coleman's Dorothy's Dilemma:
Elsewhere, namely in San Antonio at The Prince, Body of a Female got twinned with Roland af Hällström's (23 Aug 1905 – 21 Feb 1956) satiric horror film version of author Mika Waltari's (19 Sept 1908 – 26 Aug 1979) The Witch, otherwise known under its Finnish title, Noita palaa elämään (1952 / trailer). "Along with Linnaisten vihreä kamari (1945) and The White Reindeer (1952 / trailer), it was one of the first sound horror films produced in Finland and was based upon a 1947 play of the same name by Mika Waltari. Larry Buchanan's The Naked Witch (1961 / full film) more or less copied this film's plot, as well as its poster art (having the nude witch shielded behind strategically-placed tree branches). On home video, there were VHS and DVD releases in Finland, but nowhere else to my knowledge. [Bloody Pit of Horror]"
But to return to Body of a Female — the plot, as found at the AFI Catalog: "Cindy ('Anna Riva'), a Cuban stripper who works in a noisy lowlife dive near Coney Island, is seen one night by Spencer (Lem Amero), a jaded New England heir who hires young drifter Bruno ('Robert West') to get the woman for him. Bruno drugs Cindy and drives her to Spencer's decaying mansion where she willingly remains, tempted by Spencer's promise of a handsome reward. She performs a private striptease for Spencer, and he barely manages to suppress his longing to whip her. Bruno has lingered near the mansion, and he drives there hoping to see Cindy once more. Spencer is away in town, and his terrified housekeeper, Mrs. Arnold (Kate Swanson), tells Bruno of the state to which her employer's obsessive fantasies have reduced him. Bruno runs to the pond where Cindy is swimming in the nude, but she flees to the house before he can warn her. Spencer is driven frantic by her near nudity; he lashes her to a bed and whips her. Bruno intervenes, overcomes Spencer, and takes Cindy away with him. Bent on vengeance, Spencer hunts them down and confronts them on a deserted beach. Bruno disarms the desperate madman and drowns him in the surf."
Where or how Gigi Darlene shows up, we know not. But we do know that Betty nee Bettie Page (22 Apr 1923 – 11 Dec 2008) is not in the movie: "Though the cast credits in the film include a 'Bettie Page', the famous bondage model is not featured in the film. Her name was added by director Michael Findlay, reportedly as a homage or a promotional stunt. [imdb]"

More Gigi Darlene to come...
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