Monday, 8 November 2010

Naked(er) as Nature Intended

I recently managed to get hold of the US version of Naked As Nature Intended (1961), and was pleasantly surprised to find a very different version of the film than the one I’d previously encountered on video in the UK. In fact it turns out the film was completely re-worked for its American release by Crown International. Not only was the narration re-voiced for the American market, but the US version also draws on ‘stronger’ takes than appear in the UK version, and more tantalizingly includes all of the footage cut from the film’s British release version by the censor John Trevelyan in 1961. Material that was generally thought of as being lost, since the film’s original negatives-which are held by the BFI- were cut, and the censored footage was also missing from subsequent UK video releases.

Officially the only BBFC cuts made to the film, re-printed in and quoted here from John Hamilton’s book about Tony Tenser, were:

Reel 5
Remove all shots of girls on beach when they are seen front view, naked or virtually naked, full length.
Remove shot of Pamela posing on the edge of the water, with a filmy scarf in her hair.

Reel 6
Remove all shots of girls, both before and during the game with a ball, when they are seen naked front view, full length

Of course this doesn’t really tell the whole story, since back then allot of censorship took place at a script or post-production stage, and its been well documented that even before the ‘official’ censorship began, Trevelyan nixed a couple of scenes from NANI. Trevelyan seems to have been especially fixated by the idea that the film was “really” about lesbianism, and on the basis of the material cut from the UK version but reinstated for the American release, he seems to have been more concerned with removing that perceived aspect to the film rather than the nudity itself. Its very hard not to turn Trevelyan into a figure of fun in all of this and portray him as some kind of doddery old fool, shifting through nudist films for any lesbian subtexts and accidental full frontal shots. In fairness we are talking here about a film in which two of the main female characters work as petrol pump attendants, don’t appear to have boyfriends and go on nudist holidays together, so maybe Trevelyan was onto something. Also according to one of my more colourful sources of info for that era there was a bit of chatter within the industry about someone connected to the film (in a none directorial capacity). Now whether “those rumours” about this person were true or not, if this gossip did reach Trevelyan’s ears it would explain why he was so on the look out for any lesbian leanings to the film.

Anyway these are the differences I’ve been able to spot by comparing the British and American versions.

-The US opening credits are different to those in British version, no doubt this was mainly done to accommodate a re-title (the American version is merely known as ‘As Nature Intended’, somewhat ironic that a version with more nudity should remove the ‘n’ word from its title). The American version of the credits also drops the narration credit for Guy Kingsley Poynter, and presents GHM’s ‘directed by’ credit in standard bold lettering (the British version uses a reproduction of his signature.) The American version also shortens Pam’s long, pre-title walk to the camera.

-In the UK version the opening scene showing Petrina working as a secretary is missing close-ups of her legs and shots of her boss trying to cop an eyeful of them. This presumably was originally meant to visualize the line in the British version “that reminds me of that definition, even a girl who can’t add up can certainly distract” but of course the shot got cut from the UK version and the line re-voiced for the American version.

-The “shower scene” is cut out entirely from the UK version but remains in the US release. Originally meant to appear in the film in-between the scene of Bridget and Angela leaving the petrol station and the scene of Pam and Petrina picking up Jackie at her parent’s house, it basically consists of Pam emerging from a shower (demonstrating the same quick use of a towel to cover herself that also comes in handy during the later beach scenes) and chatting with Petrina over tea about their upcoming holiday. Trevelyan’s justification for cutting the scene was that it features nudity outside of its ‘proper’ nudist camp context, and since the two girls are shown living together; “there could be a connotation that they’re lesbians” Trevelyan is said to have told GHM. Something that clearly went over the head of the American narrator who seems more amused by the tea drinking (“very British… those British”) and uses the scene as a platform for sexist wisecracks about women being unable to read maps.

-In the US version the scene with Bridget and Angela undressing in a field shows both women topless, albeit briefly. In the UK version the shot of Angela cuts away just as her top is about to come off, while the shot of Bridget taking her top off pans down just as her top is coming off (the US version uses a stronger version of this shot which sees Bridget go topless before the camera pans down.)

- The “payoff” at the end of the scene in the boat, in which Jackie Salt falls overboard, gets rescued then is dried off by Pam and Petrina, is different in the two versions. In the UK version the two women dry her off while, absurdly, she still has her clothes on. On the other hand the US version uses a take in which Jackie is topless and Pam and Petrina are rubbing her breasts. Something that no doubt gave further ammo to Trevelyan’s theory about the characters being lesbians. Even Marks’ production manager had doubts whether this scene would pass the British censor, reportedly telling Marks during filming “They won't wear it, George, women rubbing each other down!”. Presumably they filmed clothed and unclothed versions of the scene in the (correct) belief that the censor would refuse to pass the unclothed take.

- The scene on the beach prior to Pam meeting Bridget and Angela, originally includes a shot of Petrina with her top off, which is in the US version but is cut out of the UK one. Presumably this shot was removed by Trevelyan because it once again shows nudity outside of a nudist camp.

- Given the amount of cuts made to the film before the characters even reach the nudist camp, its quite surprising then to find that the scenes on the nudist beach and in the camp itself seem to have been mostly passed uncut. Confusingly all of the material the BBFC’s records suggests was cut (“shots of girls on beach when they are seen front view, naked or virtually naked, shot of Pamela posing on the edge of the water, with a filmy scarf in her hair.. Etc, etc”) is still in the UK version, suggesting that those cuts were either never made or appealed at some point? The only cut made to the film during the nudist camp sequences, effects the shots of Pam riding nude on a swing, which is briefly seen in the UK version, but goes on allot longer in the US version and from angles that show more than Trevelyan was clearly prepared to pass in 1961.

While NANI is never likely to be regarded as the most exciting film ever made, the added bits and bobs of nudity do give the film more of a pulse. Plus the sustained nudity throughout makes the film play more like a typical American nudie of the era, as opposed to the British version which keeps its audience in suspense with around 40 minutes of travelogue before showing nudity of any kind. What really distinguishes the American version from the British one however is the narration. Whereas the UK narration comes across like something out of a Pathe news reel with a couple of GHM’s old music hall one liners thrown in, the American narration is far more obvious in its sexploitation motives.

In particular there is lots of leery ‘carrot on the stick’ type comments to the audience, during the nothing special opening scenes showing the girls working 9 to 5 jobs, emphasizing that the girls will end up taking their clothes off at a nudist camp.. eventually. The unnamed American narrator actually soon becomes bored by having to talk over all the British travelogue footage and “introduces” his British friend Cedric to chat through several sequences, at which point the narration actually reverts back to the original Guy Kingsley Poynter narration. Even so our American narrator cant help but occasionally chipping to take the piss, remarking “Oh, thats a good one” after one of the film’s bad puns and “I’ll treasure that information” after some Kingsley Poynter titbit about Cornwall which is of bugger all interest to Americans.

Given the American narration track was put together by Crown International rather than Marks himself, this version can hardly be considered true to Marks’ original vision, and I suppose a ‘Director’s Cut’ version of the film would include the UK narration track and all of the censored material put back in. Still at least the American version has preserved the material cut from the film, and its existence suggests that they might be versions of other 1960s British horror and sexploitation films existing overseas that managed to sneak back in footage cut from the UK releases. We can but hope.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Sue Bond in Titbits (1975)

Sue Bond interviewed in Titbits magazine (no. 4550, April 24-30th 1975), waiting for the call to do Bond or Chekov, in-between her day job of “character” parts in sitcoms and pantos.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

TWEMFEST (Cliff Twemlow screening)

The Cliff Twemlow rarity Moonstalker aka Predator: The Quietus (1988), is due to be screened as part of this year’s Salford Film Festival, along with the behind the scenes footage of Twemlow’s aborted film version of his book The Pike.

I’ve never seen either Moonstalker or the Pike footage, so will definitely be attending this. If anyone else is interested in this free screening, here is the publicity blurb and contact information….

TWEMFEST - A Celebration of Cliff Twemlow

is proud to present


plus Documentary Short - THE PIKE


at the Kings Arms, Bloom Street, Salford, M3 6AN
0161 832 3605

Admission Free

CP Lee
0161 295 6058

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Tom, Michael, George and the Yarmouth Branch of the Women’s Institute

A quick heads up for this Peeping Tom documentary on Radio 4 next week:

“Tom, Michael and George
Tuesday 02 November11:30am - 12:00pmBBC Radio 4
To mark the 50th anniversary of the notoriously controversial British thriller Peeping Tom, Toby Jones examines the effect of this disturbing tale of glamour-photographer-turned-serial-killer on the careers of two people - director Michael Powell and real-life glamour photographer George Harrison Marks. With contributions from the director's son Columba Powell, actress Shirley Anne Field and director Michael Winner, himself no stranger to controversy.”

Some of Marks’ 8mm films starring Pamela Green are also due to receive a screening by the Yarmouth Branch of the Women’s Institute!!!
("We'll show the two 'tamest' first and leave it up to the ladies if they want to watch more")

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Cover Girl Killer revisited

In the wake of the recent DVD release of Terry Bishop’s 1959 film Cover Girl Killer (on a double-bill with another Bishop film ‘Life in Danger’, starring Derren Nesbitt), here are a couple of thoughts on this former late night TV favourite.

I can’t actually recall reading any take on the film written in recent times which doesn’t make the comparison between Cover Girl Killer and the later, more explicit Mary Millington vehicle The Playbirds. I’m guilty of this myself, opening my IMDB review of it in 2000 with “Nineteen years before Mary Millington crossed paths with a misogynist murderer bearing a grudge against bust models in The Playbirds, B-movie actress Felicity Young (Play it Cool) had to deal with the late Fifties counterpart in this enjoyable Butcher's Film Distributors programmer.” In reality, given that no one involved with The Playbirds seems to have ever even heard of Cover Girl Killer, and also bearing in mind that some of the characters and incidents in The Playbirds are based on real life, the similarities between the two films do seem to be merely a coincidence. Still British cinema’s closet obsession with the murky world of pornography can probably be traced back to late 1950s B films like this, as well as The Shakedown and The Flesh is Weak.

I first encountered Cover Girl Killer back in the 1990s, when ITV were pretty much showing it and a bunch of other films made by “Butchers Films” in rotation. Butchers productions were cheap, homegrown, crime themed efforts, shot in the late fifties and early sixties, and with ideal second feature running times of just over an hour. Viewed on a weekly TV basis like that, allot of those Butchers films do now tend to blur together in the memory. No doubt due to Butcher’s reoccurring stock company of British character actor types plus a token American or Canadian actor in the lead, as well as plots which always seemed to feature a hero who was a journalist, have at least one scene that takes place in a sleazy nightclub, and whose villains were either London gangsters or for a touch of cold war era flavour Russian spies.

Cover Girl Killer and Life in Danger remain though standout efforts by director Terry Bishop, albeit for somewhat different reasons. Life in Danger is a rarity in the sense that its storyline goes beyond being your typical Butchers film fodder and actually has something important to say about the dangers of small town prejudice and reactionary attitudes (unfortunately its a little difficult to say how without giving too much of that film’s plot away). Cover Girl Killer on the other hand sticks in the memory for having its feet firmly on the peddle of sensationalism, and is rich in bold, lurid dialogue like “surely sex and horror are the new gods in this polluted world of so called entertainment” that would seem more suited to adorning an exploitation film poster than emerging from the mouths of actors. It would be nice to see more of Bishop’s filmography, if only to judge which of these films’ approach is more typical of his career. The socially concerned one of Life in Danger or the tabloidish route of Cover Girl Killer. Either way a peek into his filmography suggests Bishop never escaped the low-budget rut. Upon his death in 1981, he had spent most of the previous decade directing health industrials, and it seems helming episodes of ITC series like Danger Man and Sir Francis Drake in the early 1960s was as good as his career ever got.

Cover Girl Killer opens with its titular character, a scheming porn hating psychopath, loitering outside a strip club and clearly up to no good. Dressed in the dirty mac attire of a raincoat, pebble glasses and a cheap wig the Cover Girl Killer is played by future Steptoe and Son star, Harry H Corbett who remains unrecognizable here from his later TV incarnation. Motivated by the “unsavoury obsessions of his twisted mind” and a need to “give back man his dignity to free him from the prison of lustful images that foul his mind and his sanity” the puritanical psycho initially poses as ‘Mr. Spendozer’, a supposed TV series director, in order to bump off models who have appeared on the cover of “Wow” a cheesecake magazine. Canadian born Spencer Teakle plays his unwitting nemesis, John Mason, a fish out of water innocent who has recently inherited a Windmill theatre type night club and the magazine Wow, from his uncle, both of which form the source of the Cover Girl Killer's rage against smut.

After initially suspected of being the murderer himself, Mason helps out the police who are being constantly outwitted by `The Man' (as Corbett’s character is billed in the credits). While the police actively encourage Mason to publish his cheesecake mag in order to lure the killer out into the open, unbeknownst to them the killer is actually working his way through Wow back issues in order to find his next victim. Still sporting his bewigged Spendozer guise, the Cover Girl Killer lures bikini model Joy (Christina Gregg) to a studio by posing as a Sun Cream commercial director, but when she peels down to a bikini the Cover Girl Killer can hold back his disgust no longer, complaining that “your nudity means nothing to me” before strangling her.

Eventually showgirl June (Felicity Young), who Mason has been trying to woo, agrees to pose for the cover of Wow in order to lay a trap for the killer. Not that the Cover Girl Killer has done with tricks to fool the police yet. His final, most devious scheme, involves him posing as a film producer and going to a showbiz agent with plans to make a movie version of his own killings. This results in a casting call during which a down on his luck actor, who has turned up for the audition dressed as the Spendozer character, is nabbed for the murders by the police, allowing the real killer a chance to get at June.

Its easy to forget these days that prior to Steptoe, Harry H Corbett enjoyed a reputation as an up and coming method actor and at the outset of his career was even being heralded as Britain’s answer to Marlon Brando. Unfortunately such was the popularity of Steptoe that he quickly became completely identified with the role, and forever typecast as a comedy actor, something which as we now know was a source of bitterness for the actor throughout the rest of his life. His early reputation is something you almost have to take on good faith these days, given that most of his acting triumphs were won on the stage, and that there are few films that showcase him very well as a serious actor. Of his earlier films, his performance as a gangster in The Shakedown is noticeably over the top, and his northern accent in Muriel Box’s adaptation of Charles Dyer’s Rattle of a Simple Man is to these manucian ears at least, pretty ropey to put it mildly. Cover Girl Killer could of easily been just another one-note psycho killer role for Corbett, thankfully the film makers were clever enough to turn the character into quite the master of disguise. Something which also allows Corbett room to pull off a number of memorable character turns within the one role. The superbly creepy Mr. Spendozer soon gives way to the outwardly more respectable looking, but equally dodgy film producer guise of “Mr. Spiller”. In an even more audacious twist the killer also pops up at police headquarters at one point posing as “Mr. Fairchild” a bowler hat wearing toff, who tries to throw the police off his trail by giving them an ID of the killer based on the Spendozer guise. Whilst allowing Corbett to flex his acting muscles this host of bizarre characters the Cover Girl Killer wheels out also introduces an intriguing guessing game to the film as to which, if any, of these personas are closest to the
nameless killer’s real identity.

Just like its psychopathic master of disguise the film itself seems to be comprised of several different, contradictory personalities. At times the film seems to have quite a sense of humour about itself, and could almost be described as a black comedy. Check out the scene in which the lead detective, commenting on a bikini clad victim initially suspected to have been a suicide case, asks the pathologist “Doc, if you were to do yourself in at 1 O’clock in the morning, would you put on a bikini”. A line that regular Butchers player Victor Brooks somehow manages to deliver straight-faced, but which its hard to believe wasn’t written by someone with a slight smirk on their face. At other times however Cover Girl Killer seems to suffer from delusions of grandeur, as if its makers considered themselves worthy of greatness and a film like this beneath them. The script is full of cheap quips about the supposed illiteracy and -nudge, nudge, wink, wink- poor eyesight of readers of cheesecake magazines like Wow, as if the makers of films with titles like Cover Girl Killer had the right to look down on anyone. At its most moralizing the film introduces scenes whose sole purpose is to paint unflattering portraits of the victims’ husbands and fathers- who inevitably are revealed to be sad ineffectual men, a drunk husband living out a bed sit existence whose wife left him to pursue a modeling career, and a wheelchair bound father who let his daughter go into girlie magazine modeling to earn some extra cash for herself. At these moments the film seems to take on the guise of a chauvinistic public information film, pointing the finger at these weak men and citing their inability to control the women in their lives as the reason for their loved ones’ demise.

Even more intriguing than the film’s mood swings from saucy humour to tut-tut moralizing, is its fixation for turning the camera round on the cheap film world that the film itself sprung from. The supporting characters all have an air of being taken from real life about them. All are very much the sort of characters you’d expect to have had to rub shoulders with in the British B movie world of the late 1950s, from Gregg’s talentless bikini model who pathetically prides herself on being “Miss Torquay 1959” to the unscrupulous showbiz agent who comes across as the prototype of Eskimo Nell’s Benny U Murdoch and proclaims “I'm all for the good old X-certificate if you can get it”. Most touching of all is the nobody actor who turns up at the fake audition only to suffer the double humiliation of not only being mistaken by the police for a killer, but also failing to be recognized by them as an actor. “I haven’t worked for six months” he pleads with the police, trying to explain away why his face isn’t familiar to them, before going on to try and regain some hurt pride by claiming “I worked for two years at the Old Vic”

Its particularly ironic then that a film which paints such a self-loathing picture of the British B movie world as a place of depressed nobody actors, talentless starlets and X certificate fixated filmmakers, should now stand as one of its most entertaining and most seen examples. Don’t let this put you off though, if anything these candid insider elements make Cover Girl Killer even more fascinating now, given that the times and places these lowly characters inhabited have now long gone. Its contradictory attitude of distain and fascination for the burgeoning market in cheesecake magazines and films with ‘the good old X certificate’ slapped on them, now can be seen as reflecting the anxiety of those pre-permissive society times, and the “sex and horror are the new gods” quote entirely accurate given that the rise of nudist films, Hammer horror, the Profumo affair and the critical crucifixion of Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom lay just around the corner.

For what is essentially a cheap B movie, Cover Girl Killer really has had a amazingly long shelf life, from a regular late night TV attraction during the 1980s and 1990s (Back in 2000 I wrote that “The Cover Girl Killer now enjoys a second life as a stable of late night television, guaranteeing that the Ghost of the Cover Girl Killer will haunt insomniacs and the curious for many years to come” ) to now being back for a third time to haunt these insomniacs and the curious on DVD as well. As the Cover Girl Killer himself might have begrudgingly noted, surely sex and horror are the new gods in this polluted world of so called DVD entertainment as well.

Cover Girl Killer poster from

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

A Fistful of 8mm Glamour Films

Birthed in the late 1950s the 8mm British glamour film was the logical extension of the popular nudie magazines of the time. Its no real surprise then that the films themselves mostly emanated from the same source, with many of the key pioneers of the nudie magazine, Harrison Marks, Russell Gay, Stanley Long and Ken Williams laying down their photographic cameras and becoming rookie filmmakers to turn out countless examples of these short b/w films of their models undressing. Several DVDs worth of new (to me anyway!) examples of the genre came my way recently, and while they span the 1960s and 1970s and were the work of different filmmakers they warrant I feel a collective write-up, offering as they do a loose history of 8mm titillation and a peek into the changing face of what was socially acceptable in adult material during these eras.

The earliest examples of 8mm films by Marks, Gay, Long and Williams are if truth be known little more than filmed documents of one of their magazines' photo-shoots with models undressing and posing in the nude and whose main historic interest now lies in their capturing famous models of the era -like Pamela Green and June Palmer- on film. Because these films kept firmly within the acceptable standards set by these filmmaker’s own magazines, which emphasized boobs and bums but avoided full frontal nudity, these 8mm short films soon became common sights in newsagents in the West End and even more unlikely places “the market was vast because all the photographic shops stocked these things” remarked Harrison Marks in 1997 “Dixons were my main customers”. Of course real pornography did exist in Britain at the time, Ivor Cooke turned out numerous raw, taboo themed stag films throughout the 1960s, and some sources even have it that Harrison Marks himself was directing hardcore on the sly during the early sixties. Such productions however were totally illegal and therefore filmed and shown in the most cloak and dagger circumstances possible and certainly never allowed to intrude on mainstream sensibilities in the way that the 8mm glamour film would….. nor would they ever be sold in Dixons!!.

As the craze for these short black and white films of women undressing began to take off, many companies like Top Hat, Herald, Ultima and Windmill Films sprung up to cater to this new niche for the nude. Titles like PENTHOUSE STRIP (Unique Films), BED BOOK AND CANDLE (KLF ) and NIGHT CLUB QUEEN are fairly listless examples of the early glamour film, and in spite of the location specific title of the latter were all filmed on basic sets.

With comedy and sex being so deeply intertwined in British culture via Max Miller, George Formby and Donald McGill, its no surprise that when the 8mm glamour film finally started to develop its own personality it generally chose to serve up titillation whilst tickling the funny bone. PEEPING TOM (circa early 60s) nicks its title from Michael Powell and proves that years before Robin Askwith took up the mop and bucket a window cleaner was the No.1 occupation for getting an eyeful of a stripping housewife. Not to mention an invitation to comedic trouble as befalls the peeping window cleaner here, who gets caught by her husband and then falls through his ladder whilst trying to make a quick get-away. HONEYMOON NIGHT (Playtime films, late 60s) features glamour model Samantha Bond as part of a just married couple spending their honeymoon in a hotel and much of the running time taken up by Bond undressing in the bathroom while her husband waits in their bedroom. In a scenario used in countless sit-coms and stage farces Bond then forgets which room number she is in, goes into the wrong room and gets in bed with a weirdo who chases her about the hotel before being punched out by her hubby. Bond, a stunning redhead who would go onto to appear in Lindsay Shonteff’s Permissive, now runs her own model agency and has the dubious honour of being the woman who discovered Jordan- we all have our crosses to bear.

Other 8mm films eschew any basis in reality and come across as equally dirty mac daydreams sprung to life and unintentional surrealist filmmaking. NUDE COCKTAIL features a naked barmaid serving drinks to a clothed female customer who upon discovering she has left her purse at home pays for her drinks with her clothes. Bunny Blue Belles films whose logo was a rudely suggestive drawing of a rabbit (it actually looks like an ejaculating cock) contributed USE A HOT IRON to the surrealist 8mm glamour film genre in which a woman loses her clothes while attempting to do the ironing, then in a scene that should come with its own “don’t try this at home” warning, runs an iron over her breasts to test how hot the iron is!!

The female lead in Use a Hot Iron clearly had a bit of a career in these things and also pops up in several other Bunny Blue Belles productions like “Dreamy Plaything”. If truth be known though only a handful of actress/models from these films ever progressed to much more beyond further sexploitation gigs. One who did was Sue Bond, now best known for her three year stint on the Benny Hill Show and her subsequent sitcom and panto roles. Sue had a background in the late 1960s glamour scene, modeling nude for magazines like “Terrific” and acting in several Harrison Marks 8mm films. “It came as quite a shock the first time I realized a director had selected me for my profile than my portrayal” she complained to Titbits magazine in 1975 “after all its not exactly what your dreams are made of”, today Sue is reportedly even more guarded about this side of her career, even going so far as to deny her participation in such material. Just as well then that we have AUDITION NIGHT (Expo Films) which conveniently serves as a visualization of Sue’s humble nudie beginnings, and sees Sue-who is billed on the 8mm box under the name ‘Heidi Kessler’- auditioning for a disinterested magazine publisher. As well as a showcase for Ms. Bond’s assets, Audition Night also sees the filmmakers both simultaneously play up and parody the public’s image of smut peddlers. The blokish magazine publisher Sue shakes her boobs at is made up like a caricature of a soho sleazebucket, chain smoking his way through several cigarettes, hiding behind dark glasses and barely acknowledging Sue in favour of reading a copy of ‘Men Only’ much to the annoyance of S.B. Its only in the film’s closing moments do we discover the reason for his apathy towards her. As Sue suddenly notices a curtain twitching in his office he quickly springs into action attempting to shoo her out of the room before the curtain comes down revealing several photographers who have been snapping away during her nude audition.

While Sue may well have progressed beyond 8mm films and been given an entry into sitcom and panto land, such later career achievements pale in comparison to the mainstream successes of Margaret Nolan, who after a brief two year glamour modeling stint as “Vicky Kennedy” would enjoy roles in big budget films featuring The Beatles and James Bond, be immortalized as Dawn Brakes in Carry on Girls and unlike Sue Bond could also lay claim to have been taken seriously as an actress with roles in Last of the Summer Wine and Crown Court that were far removed from her glamour and even Carry On image. Two of Margaret’s early 8mm glamour film calling cards to the industry -Dawn Brakes’ early breaks if you will- were SEXATIONAL and the aptly named PRESENTING THE FABULOUS VICKY KENNEDY (Star Films). The latter is immediately of collector interest as it is in colour, whereas most of the filmed footage of Margaret’s glamour period is in black and white. A pity then that its so indifferently filmed and poorly lit, and on the basis of the film it would seem that Star Films were one of the more low-rent of the 8mm glamour outfits. The film itself which follows Margaret in and out of a shower and ends with her posing nude on a bed, even includes full frontal shots, albeit briefly and probably the result of filmmaking incompetence rather than any serious desire to challenge the status quo on the use of full nudity in 8mm films.

Sexational, likely to have been filmed by Russell Gay, is in black and white and similarly limited in terms of onscreen action, yet is infinitely superior, and goes to show the difference an established glamour photographer behind the camera can make. Gay uses a variety of imaginative costume and set changes, as well as a generous amount of long shots, pans and close-ups to draw out Margaret’s looks, personality and allure on camera. The result is an 8mm glamour film whose natural sexiness has held up well through the ages and the successful marriage of a model with sex appeal by the bucket load and a photographer who knows how to utilize it. Like many of the girls captured in these films Margaret was also a smoker and signs off the film by producing a cigarette, being given a light off screen (likely by Gay himself) and blowing smoke seductively at the camera. A memorable reminder of a time when fagging it onscreen was seen as a sexy and glamorous thing to do, and lending an obviously post-coital feel to the films closing moments.

Future horror filmmaker Pete Walker also began his career in the world of 8mm glamour films, shooting an estimated 400 to 500 glamour shorts in the mid to late sixties and boasting that none of these films took more than half an hour to make. Watch some of these films today and you’ll be amazed it took Pete as long as half an hour. Still as his 8mm glamour career continued there are slow signs of -if not exactly a cinematic great in the making- then some interest in filmmaking beyond shooting simple stripteases. This transition is reflected in TOP MODELS OF THE YEAR, a self-produced compilation of Walker’s 8mm films which also displays Walker’s tenancy for billing his models with “Miss” before their names as if they were being introduced at a high society ball rather than about to take their clothes off for an 8mm film. Clips from “Miss Britt Hampshire” and “Miss Yvonne Bennett and Miss Maria Thomas” suggests routine glamour films, on the other hand “Miss Donna Marlowe” uses some primitive stop motion effects to undress Miss Marlowe (Walker’s real life girlfriend at the time). Every time she plucks a flower, part of her clothing magically disappears, still embarrassed as she is by this the girl just can’t stop plucking. Even funnier are clips from Walker’s “Aeronautical Nude”, starring Miss Ann Walker as a pilot who somehow manages to perform a striptease while supposedly flying and landing a light aircraft. The film ends with Ann awkwardly emerging from the plane backwards (obviously in order to avoid any full frontal shots) and with a royally puzzled expression that suggests someone waiting for her director to yell cut and get her down.

For Walker the 8mm films seem to have been at best a means of making money and a way of learning the basics of filmmaking in order to progress to better things. He is famously quoted as later saying “I didn’t want to be known as a tit man…. I didn’t want to be Harrison Marks”. Marks on the other hand was clearly in the sex industry for the duration and would fully inject his own personality and drunken memories of his music hall forefathers into his productions. Marks’ ROSE’S BUSTIN' OUT ALL OVER (circa 1964), contains the sort of double-entendre in its title that Max Miller would have been proud to deliver. Rather than featuring anyone called Rose the film actually stars model Maxine King, who while attractive is hardly busting out all over. Only as the film progresses does the title make any sense as Maxine goes for a nude walkabout in a garden to admire the roses in bloom, hence Roses busting out all over!! Marks’ sense of humour is even more in evidence in STRICTLY FOR BACHELORS (1968). Coming across as a piss take on TV advertising and cookery shows aimed at women, Strictly for Bachelors purports to show women how to bake a Christmas cake, and casts topless model Cindy Neal as a sexed up Fanny Cradock wannabe following onscreen advice and making a royal hash of it. A caption asking her to “take two cherries” has her pointing cluelessly to her nipples while another asking her to add a dash of napoleon brandy to the mix results in her drinking brandy while dressed as Napoleon. Neal is actually a real find, not only able to hold a candle to any of Marks’ greatest models in the looks department but also proving herself to be game for a laugh and a good comedienne here. There is a real sense that Neal and Marks had lots of fun making this, with Neal throwing eggs and flower around her mock kitchen set (it was actually filmed at Marks’ flat in St John’s Wood) and Marks throwing in some very rude visual gags like Neal kneading dough with her bum and the cherry topped cake eventually expanding to resemble a giant tit before exploding covering Neal with a sticky white substance. You get the impression that Marks may have worried he’d gone a little too overboard with the comedy here, since after the exploding cake gag the film ends on a more conventional, calmer note with Neal filmed posing nude amidst such bachelor pad essentials as a TV set and a Frank Sinatra LP, the film was after all Strictly for Bachelors.

As the sixties gave way to the 1970s the 8mm glamour film began turning towards soft core rather than mere nude posing. Harrison Marks first tested these waters with 8mm films like Tutti Fruit and Hot Teddy which feature off the wall stand-ins for sex acts with the former depicting Sue Roberts suggestively eating a banana while the latter sees Sue Bond madly humping a giant teddy bear. Marks finally made the transition to soft core shorts featuring real people with titles like PENNY AND PAUL a no-frills recording of a sex session between the busty Penny and a longhaired stud who’d go on to bonk his way through several more of Marks’ soft and hardcore shorts during the 1970s.

As with his early 8mm glamour films Marks’ soft core shorts quickly became more elongated affairs often running around 12-15 minutes and with elaborate plots that were an outlet for Marks’ comedy inclinations. By the time of Marks’ GOODNIGHT NURSE, which was filmed in 1972 and released in January 1973, Marks was shooting both b/w soft core versions of his films for the UK market and colour hardcore versions for Tabu’s Charlie Brown to distribute in Germany. The colour hardcore version of Goodnight Nurse which is called “The Happy Nurses” was written up by me back in June, and the soft version keeps pretty close to it in terms of plot, only with the action kept soft core and a few cast changes. Having entrusted the role of the doctor to a ubiquitous hardcore actor in The Happy Nurses, Marks himself steps into the role for Goodnight Nurse. Also present and correct is Howard Nelson, who reprises his role as a blacked-up fez wearing patient from The Happy Nurses. As this was a non-sex role Howard is soon wheeled away allowing Doctor Marks to have a quick fumble with one of the nurses. At the same time a patient who resembles a young hippie version of Marks, is checked in and soon becomes a target for the randy nurses. As in the Happy Nurses the patient is eventually revealed to be the new ward porter, news that the nurses react to by emptying a fruit bowl over him.

According to a 1972 interview with Marks, Goodnight Nurse was inspired by his own hospitalization that year which predictably caused his mind to drift onto the subject of naughty nurses (tellingly he also wrote the script for Come Play With Me around this time as well). “The first week or two I didn’t pay much attention, I was too groggy to think about sex” he claimed “but when I felt a bit better, the old urge came back. I started to think about a bit of crumpet again”. Unfortunately for Marks the reality of the situation was rather less erotic than the film it inspired with the day nurses Marks was lusting after always replaced at 8’O Clock by “a pair of right dragons”. While one of the nurses did it seems go after Marks she wasn’t exactly Mary Millington, rather she was, in Marks’ own words “built like a brick built shithouse” and kept Marks up till 3am in the morning talking about sex until he eventually shooed her away by complaining “I am a bit tired”. One suspect she must have been really rough on the eye for him to turn down an offer of sex, and in a way its a testament to Marks’ overactive imagination that such an un-erotic sounding encounter could be turned into the randy farce that is Goodnight Nurse.

This in mind its tempting to speculate whether the chronologically final Marks’ films on the discs, BLOWJOB and NIGHT DREAMS have a similar basis in real life incidents that Marks sexed up in his imagination and then put on film. BLOWJOB features a punter contacting a prostitute from the back pages of a sex magazine and both of them going down on each other in scenes shot on Marks’ couch at his flat. In the comedic punch line the punter then rewards the woman with two one pound notes and she in turn offers him some green shield stamps!!! NIGHT DREAMS is Marks’ mock horror film which opens once again on his couch, and with a woman flicking through a book on horror films, with particular emphasis on pictures of Lugosi’s Dracula and Karloff’s Frankenstein. After this not so light reading she retires to bed only to suffer a nightmare, symbolized in the film by Karloff’s face superimposed over her tossing and turning in the nude. At the same time a mysterious stranger, initially seen only by shots of his gloved hands and feet, creeps around her apartment. Its all shot in a manner to suggest we’re building up to a full on horror outing, with lots of stereotypical horror imagery like a clock striking midnight, before the film reveals itself to have been a bit of a tease. Since when the woman wakes up she is greeted not by the sight of Dracula or Frankenstein but Harrison Marks himself, stripping off and jumping into bed with her, no doubt in order to offer her some “comfort” after her bad dream. A scene that also allows Marks to display a whole new side to his talents- his backside !!!

With titles like Blowjob the norm and even Marks himself flashing his Harris onscreen, the old style nude posing 8mm glamour film was clearly a thing of the past by this point. Some, such as original glamour girl Pamela Green may have felt that much of the artistry went out of the window in the 8mm glamour worlds’ clambering for a more upfront approach to sex. But with nudity by then common place in the tabloids and mainstream films as well as John Lindsay making blue movies more publicly visible thanks to his regular appearances in the tabloids and in court the 1970s were clearly marching to a more saucier beat. Changes that left the surviving 8mm filmmakers like Marks, Russell Gay and Ken Williams now free to depict the sort of explicit scenarios that a generation raised on the likes of Nude Cocktail and Use a Hot Iron had had to make do with merely visualizing in their minds as coy images of nude women serving cocktails or ironing in the all together flickered onscreen.


Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Zeta One with stripes on

A funny typo from the 1990s video release of Zeta One

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Review: The Happy Nurses (197?, Harrison Marks)

Sometime in 1976 sex superstar Mary Millington ran into a spot of bother with the law after selling a policeman 8mm copies of Harrison Marks’ softcore Maximus films “Goodnight Nurse” and “The Danish Maid” at her Norbury sex shop, only to see the same copper return a few days later with some of his colleagues to raid the shop. And while the police never really needed a good reason to raid Mary’s shop, one can imagine she’d have been in even more hot water had she slipped him a copy of Marks’ The Happy Nurses, a hardcore “under the counter” production, which used the same sets, storyline and the more opened minded cast members-or should that be cast’s members- as Goodnight Nurse.

Released in Germany by Diamant Films, likely an offshoot of Charlie Brown’s Tabu company, the hospital ward set Happy Nurses opens with the hilariously off the wall sight of Marks’ muscle-bound stooge Howard ‘Vanderhorn’ Nelson, playing an irate foreign patient. A role Howard has been blacked up for, while the typical Vanderhorn disguise also includes a fez and a glue on goatee as an extra touch so people won’t know its him.
Clearly not a happy camper, and presumably suffering from a disease that turns you into a hybrid of Tommy Cooper and Al Jolson, Howard is quickly carted away by wheelchair by one of the staff, and while the Horn is away the doctors and nurses will play. With no patients around, the head doctor and one of the nurses seize the opportunity to screw each other senseless in his office. Elsewhere, a patient turns up on the ward and checks himself into a bed. No one actually bothers to enquire what is wrong with him, but there is a succession of randy nurses on hand to administer blowjobs and fuck him in bed, which while it might not cure his illness, presumably will cheer him up a bit.

Aside from Howard, the other familiar face in The Happy Nurses is Peter, the actor playing the doctor, who Marks also cast in his 8mm short ‘Hot Fingers’. Peter was clearly something of a player in the 1970s London hardcore scene, and pops up in numerous blue films by both Marks and John Lindsay. Slightly more mature looking than your average 70s porn actor, and distinguished by that and his wavy, Sid James type hairdo, he also had a small, uncredited role as -aptly enough- a stud for hire in Stanley Long’s film On the Game, from 1973.

After finishing off with the doctor, the nurse remembers she was meant to deliver an important letter to another of the nurses, and hurries off to find her, inadvertently walking in on her riding the patient. The letter reveals the man isn’t a patient and all, and it turns out he is actually the new ward porter who has been posing as a patient in order to get some free sex on the NHS. Left a not very happy nurse at the news of this deception, the nurse gets her own back by empting a fruit bowl over him, which knocks him out and leaves him with an apple stuck in his mouth. Actually given the spontaneous way sex seems to break out between doctors, nurses and patents in the film, its hard to make sense of why it matters whether he was a ward porter or a patient, still thats the NHS for you!!

Hyped by Tabu in their typically excitable, broken english manner as “a jewel for the broadminded … after this film you are bound to have a permanent itch, if not a quivering cunt”, Marks was definitely firing on all cylinders when he came up with this one, and a boozy sense of mirth is very much in evidence in the films mixture of horny blue movie action, Howard’s music hall like get-up and Marks’ penchant for working slapstick comedy and assorted silly gags into the dirty film equation. While the joke revelation about the ward porter might not be up to much, The Happy Nurses can lay claim to featuring the rudest, dirtiest sight gag Marks surely ever filmed, which entails poor Mr. Nelson being wheeled out again at the end of the film for the honour of suffering an even greater indignity than he does in Come Play With Me. Still moaning at the nurses while they are busy wanking off the ward porter in the next bed, Howard’s complaints are cut short mid-sentence when he is hit in the face by the ward porter’s misdirected spunk!! A freeze frame of Howard fuming and the (obviously fake) cum running down his face ends the film.

Actually this ending comes across -no pun intended- as a bit of an improvisation due, you suspect, to the porn actor running out of steam and failing to deliver the requisite money shot that by rights the film should have ended on, leaving Marks to substitute it with a belly laugh instead. A suspicion further fuelled by an earlier scene with the ward porter and one of the nurses also making use of the same porridge like substance, or whatever the heck it was that Marks used as a double for mansplat, that also ends up being squirted on Howard’s face for the film’s finale. Still while the porn actor doesn’t seem to have been able to deliver all the goods, Howard certainly went way beyond the call of duty for The Happy Nurses, blacking up, spending an afternoon being wheeled around and taking the porn equivalent of a custard pie to the face. Thus providing the film with its wickedly obscene, laugh out loud final moment, and ensuring that the Happy Nurses will live on as surely the only straight 8mm porn film to end with a blacked up, former bodybuilder being ejaculated on!!!

Monday, 24 May 2010

“Life with George Harrison Marks”- A Chat with Louise Sinclair

I was delighted to recently correspond with Louise S. Sinclair, who back in the 1970s worked as a glamour model and dated George Harrison Marks during the Spring of 1979. Louise is happy to reminisce about “those wonderful pre politically correct days of freedom” and her computer-like memory was able to fill in many of the blank spots I had about Marks’ life during that period. Her stories about him are equal parts comedy and tragedy, and provide a frank, but valuable, insight into Marks’ psyche, post Come Play With Me, at the very fag end of the 1970s. Many thanks to Louise for taking this trip down memory lane!!

“I was involved with George during 1979 when he resided in Red Lion Square and had a company called Helena Grant Associations. I became his lover aged 19 and when he telephoned my mother would jokingly say "granddad is on the phone" At that point George had spilt from (his third wife) Toni. I believe it had happened over a year previously. Toni seemed to be involved with a man called Arthur who aggravated George because his identity bracelet had diamonds and George's was plain gold.

George introduced me to his various friends including Milton and Jack as his mistress. I recall little about (Milton Reid), he seemed a fairly disinterested in people character and usually just nodded in my direction. I recall him looking very over weight and George being heavy, the two of them made quite a sight. George liked wearing a striped top which as I told him made him look like a deckchair on legs. I wasn't diplomatic as I was only 18 when I met George.

George was a very heavy smoker and drinker. He also loved dishes such as saukraut and polish sausages. His moods were volatile and I had a quarrel with him when somewhat hungover he demanded that I helped him clean his flat as Toni was expected. I was nursing a heavy cold and when George demanded that I got up and helped him empty ashtrays and remove empty vodka bottles I exploded with rage dressed and left. Toni arrived and seeing the condition he was in promptly confiscated his adored Burmese cats as she thought he was too drunk to care for them. I wrote George a sharp letter calling him a walking vodka bottle. He quickly contacted me to apologize for his thoughtless behaviour. George was quite stingy with money and rarely bought me a gift. He loved wearing bling jewellery and liked to relax in one of his many kaftans. George was a prolific reader and introduced me to Jackie Collins via Lovers and Gamblers. I was instantly hooked and sat reading quietly for hours while George drank smoked and snoozed. He often mentioned his daughter Josie and took us off to a hairdressers where we both had our hair cut and styled.

During this time George was involved in stronger glamour photography. He used to grumble that there was no art left in 60's style glamour - it was strictly open leg material. I was a glamour model but he never wanted me to involve myself in his hard core material. However it led to some amusing encounters. George once told me we had to get up as he was expecting a dishy male model for an audition. I leapt out of bed and hastily applied make up expecting a tall dark handsome hunk. I was very disillusioned to be greeted by a pale skinny young guy with blond hair and a washed out appearance. Perhaps his assets were concealed by his underwear.

I met Rex Peters who was a highly unpleasant little man and Ed Alexander whom seemed okay. George told me not to work with Rex as he was known for getting "forceful" with women. I didn't do any film or television work myself. I almost got slung out of a Health And Efficiency shoot because I was wearing too much make up and horror of horrors suspenders and nail polish. George almost cried with laughter over that episode.

Another time I visited Toni's flat in St Johns Wood to complete a movie. There were several of us and it was exhausting. That film Toni and her boyfriend did was so appalling it was scrapped according to George. It wouldn't surprise me as the shooting was haphazard to say the least. The films Toni and her boyfriend were making were very soft - no open leg or erections. I think they were trying for a Mayfair image. Everything was suggested but nothing happened apart from several very weary models. Toni also had a model there she was helping to get jobs in exchange for a 10% commission. Shooting continued throughout the day and when evening finally arrived I returned to George to find that he had thoughtfully prepared a meal and bath for me.

George had a great love of Vaudeville which I was too young to appreciate and he often compared my figure to that of Pamela Green. However by this time he was no Casanova as drinking had affected his virility. His amusing personality was his biggest asset to a young woman interested in having fun and aware that the relationship would go nowhere.

Saturdays were often spent wandering along Camden Passage where George knew quite a few of the dealers. Lunch was liquid and complemented by plenty of Marlboro cigarettes. When he moved to Stamford Hill he had an elderly couple in residence
downstairs. I believe the wife’s name was Dolly. The journey from East London to Stamford hill was very awkward and gradually our relationship petered out when I became involved with another man.

George was eccentric, amusing but ultimately somewhat afraid of deep intimacy with women. He was very distressed about the death of Mary Millington. I was with him when he received the news. His view was that the Inland Revenue had hounded her to suicide. David Sullivan was a man he felt contempt for. George told me that Sullivan enjoyed a daily breakfast of steak followed by a box of chocolates. He also claimed that Sullivan had collected the earnings from Come Play With Me as a major backer of the film. It seemed that he resented the success Sullivan was enjoying and certainly didn't want to play second fiddle to a man he viewed as an upstart.

George was going through a fairly quiet period at that point and seemed to enjoy most of his spare time lounging around the flat, playing with his cats and drinking vodka. In retrospect I would suspect he was quite depressed as he couldn't see a clear direction and he got bored doing the blue films.”

Monday, 17 May 2010

Review: Sordid Soho (196?, Director unknown)

 Sordid Soho is a 1960s 8mm glamour film with a West End Jungle vibe to it, that can certainly lay claim to living up to its title, coming across as it does like some sort of travelogue, or maybe even a training film, for the dirty mac brigade. Consisting mostly of shots of 1960s strip clubs in soho and several striptease routines, these appear to be seen from the point of view of a typical 60s Soho punter, whose face the film always keeps off screen, and who is only represented in the film by a shot of a finger pressing a stripper’s doorbell, and as a pair of feet as he makes his way up to her flat.

As it was aimed at the comparatively unregulated 8mm market Sordid Soho eschews the kind of bending over backwards to please the censor sermonizing that feature films like Primitive London and London in the Raw had to adhere to, and instead fills its 11 minute running time with what its faceless punter, and its audience, paid to see, namely the routines of several “naked lovelies” as the cartoonish 8mm box dubs them. Despite all the strip club marquees on display, the filmmakers clearly couldn’t get access to film in the clubs themselves, so all the strip routines take place in shabby upstairs flats, leaving the film to document, or at least recreate, the post-Wolfenden report set-up of girls using advertisements to lure punters up to their flats to watch them strip off, with the implication that “something more” might be on offer. A scenario that was portrayed in a tut-tut and leer fashion in West End Jungle, but which also crops up allot in low-brow horror films of the period like Corruption and The Mutations, where inevitably the girls come to a sticky end, or in the case of the latter film face to face with a deformed Tom Baker. Nothing so dramatic takes place here of course, despite shots of the punter creeping up the stairs looking like they’ve strayed from a horror film, and just in case we get the wrong impression the back of the 8mm box is at hand to reassure us that “we would point out that the girls in this film are models”, heaven forbid we should think they were real life strippers, or shock, horror, ladies of the night.

Sordid Soho is a creditless film, and one that leaves few clues for 21st century archeologists as to its makers’ identity, causing you to speculate whether the film was the work of an enthusiastic amateur, something shot by a person who had a real job in film and TV but had the time to slum it in Soho, or merely the output of one of the many n’er do well jack the lad characters who sprung up in the wake of Harrison Marks and Stanley Long’s success in the 8mm glamour film business. Certainly the film would like you to believe it was the work of a pervy punter who insisted on dragging a camera with him on his Soho prowls for strippers, although the fact that its shot with a degree of professionalism, and its makers clearly cranked out a few more films of this type (listed on the back of the 8mm box are “Her Day Off” and “Helga from Copenhagen”) suggests the truth is likely to be nearer the n’er do well, jack the lad characters option. Curiously the box also advises punters to “ask to see the other films in this series”, possibly indicating that this was designed to be sold in a chain of shops, or maybe just the one shop, rather than the mail order route.

The strip acts themselves are very of the period, with the b/w photography, emphasis on lingerie, bare breasts and bums and the avoidance of full frontal nudity in keeping with the mentality of the Harrison Marks and Arnold Louis Miller girlie magazines of the day. These scenes may have originally been Sordid Soho’s raison d’etre but today play second fiddle to the more historically interesting street footage, with the film obsessively documenting all the naughty sights and places 60’s Soho had to offer. The mixture of snapshots of shady businesses, a faceless protagonist and strip routines even pre-dates, and anticipates the Soho sequence in the beloved Brit sleaze favourite Take An Easy Ride by more than a decade.

Of course whether or not some of the films’ participants would be happy to be remembered on film as the epitome of Sordid Soho remains questionable, especially in the case of the girl who the filmmakers managed to persuade to remove everything bar her shades, which she keeps on throughout her routine. Still what better, or more hilarious, validation do you need of a film’s authentic sleaziness than the fact that even the people who appeared in it insisted on keeping their dark glasses on !!!

Friday, 14 May 2010

Pamela Green 1929-2010

Received an email this morning from Yak El-Droubie, who runs her website, sadly informing me that Pamela Green passed away on Friday 7th May 2010 at the age of 81. Green of course was one of the most famous nude models of the late 1950s and early 1960s, and star of Naked As Nature Intended and Peeping Tom.
R.I.P Pam, Rita Landre and Princess Sonmar Harriks.


Tuesday, 11 May 2010

All4nothing33’s Mary Millington posts

Several posts taken from whose site owner All4nothing33 has decided to discontinue and close the site, but has asked me to rip several posts and photos from it and re-post them here for posterity.

All4nothing33 at what was Private Shop Norbury London

All4nothing33 at ‘hardcore alley’ in Norbury (Allfornothing33 writes “My left arm touching the actual Police Station wall.”)

All4nothing33 visits Mary’s grave

(Allfornothing33 writes
“On Saturday the 27th September 2008 myself and my friend Kevin visited Mary's grave, on it we put a tribute, photos and some lovely flowers in honour of a truly lovely lady who died too soon.

This is the message my friend Kev and I put on her grave.

Mary you were a shining star,
We' look for you in the heavens but sadly your not there.
Maybe in another life' we' will see you again,
You were, and are the best,
Your ideals were true,
Though you were just not right for your time,
'We' wish to God that you were still here,
You would have been 62yrs old this year.
Millie you earned the fame
Those that persecuted and betrayed you should hang their heads in shame.
A quite lovely person you would have achieved more,
Mary Maxted the brightest star this universe ever saw

Two of All4nothing33’s newspaper clippings

All4nothing33 in conversation with Mary’s friend

All4nothing33 writes “The following are the words of Mary's friend to me when in conversation with him “I remember once going around to her home to photograph her in a police woman's uniform for a forthcoming film. When I arrived a young couple were viewing the house which was up for sale at the time. They were extremely well spoken and left shortly after to go and talk to the young woman's mummy. Mary and I settled down to a drink and a chat before starting on the pictures and when we finished Mary started to dress, she had got as far as stockings and suspenders, her white shirt and police woman's jacket, both undone with her breasts fully exposed and her police hat on her head, when I heard the front doorbell. Almost instantly the door to the lounge was opened by the maid, and there stood the couple complete with mummy a stout mature smartly dressed woman with blue rinsed hair, all of them staring open mouthed at Mary's state of undress. The young woman stuttered and said in a faltering voice, "Ohhh I didn't know you were a policewoman". Mary replied giggling, "nooooo I'm not a policewomen, I'm an actress!" To the shocked onlookers. Mary wasn't in the least embarrassed, but I could have died.”

All4nothing33’s potted history of Mary’s life

(Allfornothing33 writes “The Life of Mary a British Icon.

Born Mary Ruth Quilter Nov 30th 1945 at the end of the second world war to a middle class family,her mother worked for the foreign office and her father was a biographer, she was illegitimate.Her father had a role in her younger life but disappeared out of her life as she grew older. Mary had an ordinary schooling, was reported as very mischievous. She left school to attend Reigate art school but could not manage the work so she left to start work as a veterinary nurse but again she was unable to do the necessary studying, as she said many years later in her book 'The Amazing Mary Millington' [1979]she was never academic.However she had a wonderful charisma and charmed all that met her.

Mary married at aged 18yrs to Bob Maxted and was to stay married throughout her short life She was given her big chance in life when she was offered a job in a boutique as the manageress, all the time doing part time modelling nude, glamour and porn. It was whilst she was employed at the boutique she began to love the trappings of fame and vowed one day to be in the public eye..

It was one chance adventure that gave her the break she needed. One day whilst out on her lunch break in a coffee shop she met Scottish photographer John Lindsay [he of hard core fame], it was not long before she stumbled into film and progressed to doing 'hard/core' particularly for Lindsay mostly abroad, under various pseudonyms.He loved Mary and introduced her to Porn Magnate David Sullivan [who is owner of Play/birds Whitehouse empire] He too loved Mary, they had a relationship even though Mary was married [as events turned out there was much ambivalence between Mary's husband and Sullivan even though Mary tried to keep both the relationship and the two men apart] Sullivan promoted and made Mary big in film and although she could not [by her own admission] sing or act, she was to progress to great things and become Millington [she had always been known as Maxted before meeting Sullivan]. Sullivan invented the name Millington to augment her career in the mags and said she was the sister of the then Whitehouse editor Doreen Millington [utter rubbish] but all the same it helped sell his mags.

Mary became renowned as a model and actress star of Sullivan's cinema release Come Play With Me [1977] the Brit comedy that outsold any sex/comedy of its era and is still today the biggest box office success in that genre.It ran twice and made twice as much money second time around.It ran alongside the first 'Superman' and at one point for six consecutive weeks even beat that. She starred in many other films before and after Sullivan's relationship with her, notably Queen of the Blues The Playbirds etc but none of them [although they were in fact successful] were to equal the success and fame of 'Come Play With Me'

Mary was a star of countless porn mags a fervent supporter of civil rights and firmly against the Obscene Publications law that she found was outdated and draconian She supported both animal and 'cancer 'charities. Her mother whom she doted on was suffering cancer throughout the early 70s when Mary was modelling etc.. herself to pay for her care[ a rare thing in those days as not many people had the money].She adored animals more so than humans and was involved with the Peoples Dispensary for sick animals [PDSA]. it is rumoured that Mary had a relationship a 'one night stand' with the then prime minister Harold Wilson, this has [as far as I know] never been denied by the British authorities. She also had 'relations' with the then Shah of Persia [Iran] for mega money and also some very notable and eminent figures..

Her fame and the fact the authorities felt challenged by Mary, indeed to police and government she was a constant embarrassment, they chased her time and time again trying to set her up.They sent letters and bills to her threatening imprisonment The taxman was chasing her for £1,000,000 and the police were after her, she had a pressing appointment in the Old Bailey court on obscenity charges. Also her husband had asked her for a divorce.Probably because of the constant pressure she developed major insecurities and had become hooked on cocaine and was a kleptomaniac often stealing things [not always valuable objects] but anything that she thought she wanted.[Note it is now thought by agony aunts psychologists etc.. who have dissected Mary's life that she stole things because she had a need to feel wanted and loved].

She began to despair with British Government and their measures to suppress her lifestyle, thought her life was a mess, feared the impending court case as she did not want to go to prison.She was hounded by the police who raided her shops with impunity the second they knew she was out of the area. They hit her hard in the pocket and prevented her advancing/promoting her mags by destroying them.

She was a liberated person with a relaxed view of censorship, she had a sexual openness and ideals that were not in keeping with the times. She strove for the legalisation of pornography, less stringent laws and better civil liberties, however the British Government was just too big for her. She had, had enough on the night of the 19 th August 1979 she rang John M East[her publicist] asked him to sing the song he always sang to her, ending in 'tomorrow', she said 'there will be no tomorrow John', the phone went dead.In the morning her husband found her dead in her bedroom she had taken analgesics. anti depressant capsules alcohol and passed away in her sleep.

RIP Mary Maxted [the name on her gravestone] her married name, buried South Holmwood, Surrey above her beloved mother.

Mary Millington the biggest box office draw of the 70s rich and famous [but never media mainstream because she was not right for her time]has according to the reverend of St Mary Magdalene church the smallest gravestone in the cemetery .Mindful of this and considering that she was the biggest star of the 1970s and could presumably afford the very best, why did she not have a splendid grave stone?. The truth is I honestly do not know!!

I believe Mary would have indeed one day [had she lived] become mainstream, she had the strength and charisma to mix in all societies and was a truly wonderful person.She was seen at charity events etc. with the likes of Arthur Askey [the one time comedian] Fenella Fielding and Moira Lister as well as other well known people, there, supporting her charities and furthering their causes.

It is I suppose worth notice that Mary 29 years on from all her battles where she was harangued persecuted and so willfully hurt by those in authority whom it has been proven had double standards by that I mean out of the public eye used her , bought her mags etc... the one and the same people police magistrates etc.. were then prosecuting her for her actions and beliefs in the Old Bailey courts. I believe it was always at the back of Mary's mind to expose these people as hypocrites indeed she had experienced that some of the same people who upheld the law also bought her magazines.

Mary was hounded and for what, look what porn is freely available today!.The films of Mary Millington are seen as nothing more than 'glorified nude Benny Hill sketches' despite at one time what David Sullivan maintained, indeed a good percentage of Mary's 'fellow actresses' in her films starred in Benny Hills sketches three I know of were 'Hills Angels'.

Abandoned in death by those that sought to gain from displaying her as a macabre show the contemptible way that they displayed her in order to get what they wanted, that includes the late John M East her manager and publicist who Mary seemed to worship in life.Shame on him and the many others who did the same.

Mary Ruth Maxted RIP with your beloved mother.The grave stone is inscribed simply 'REUNITED'

Ref :Watch the 1996 Channel 4 film Sex and Shame 'The Mary Millington Story' note what Colin Wills the journalist with the 'Sunday Mirror' says about Mary.
Read Simon Sheridan's remarkably frank unabridged book Come Play With Me 'The Life and Films of Mary Millington' 1999 Fab press
Read 'Come Play With Me' Kelefern productions 1978
Read The Amazing Mary Millington Futura 1979 co wrote by Mary Millington David Weldon [her one time probation officer].

With Compliments of All4nothing33

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Howard “Vanderhorn” Nelson (1934-2007)

Sad to report that Come Play With Me actor Howard “Vanderhorn”
Nelson has gone to that great Bovington Manor in the sky, he actually died a few years ago, but his passing went unnoticed at the time, and it wasn’t until this week that I managed to get official confirmation of his death. Born in 1934, Howard was a champion bodybuilder in his youth, who entered the film world thanks to a part in chum Harrison Marks’ 1967 film Pattern of Evil, now considered a ‘lost’ film. Thereafter Howard became something of a fixture at Marks’ Studio, and in his films, going on to appear in two different roles in Marks’ 1969 feature film The Nine Ages of Nakedness and numerous 8mm shorts. “Vanderhorn” was a popular character name of Marks (a Baron Von Vanderhorn appears in the 8mm film Aphrodisia and Howard himself had played an Arthur Vanderhorn in Pattern of Evil) and was a name Howard would adopt as a nickname and sometimes acting pseudonym. Howard even appeared in non-sex character roles in Marks’ hardcore short films in the early seventies, he played one of the hippies at the customs’ desk in Die Lollos, Randy Toole’s roadie in Autogramme Stunde, and the photographer in Duty Free. Howard played these roles under a variety of fake wigs and dark glasses, presumably so people wouldn’t know it was him, although his ex-bodybuilder frame always tends to give the game away. Howard also appeared in soft core 8mm films made by Ken Williams’ Mountain Films Company like “Just the Job” and “Intimacy” (on account of starring Howard, and other Marks regulars like Peta Gareth, Williams’ 8mm films are sometimes erroneously written up as Harrison Marks productions)

Outside of the sex film world Howard turned up as a thug who beats up Linda Marlowe in Lindsay Shonteff’s Zapper’s Blade of Vengeance- a menacing turn that was a far cry from the comedic, asexual musclemen Howard usually played. Howard is probably best remembered though as the unfortunate Mr. Benjamin who gets “the full treatment” from Mary Millington in Come Play With Me, and as Harry “Mr. Super Muscle” Hernia, one of Suzanne Danielle’s many objects of desire in Carry on Emmannuelle, from 1978.

Still involved with Harrison Marks after Marks had made the transition from pornographer to spanking magazine publisher, Howard popped up as a spanking milkman in the second issue of Marks’ New Janus magazine in 1982. Latterly, Howard worked for a time at Lovejoy’s Bookshop, and was occasionally spotted around the Charing Cross Area. As a member of Harrison Marks’ quirky inner circle, you get the impression that Howard would have turned out to have been a real character and no doubt a goldmine of saucy movie anecdotes, sadly attempts made by several people to track him down for an interview came to nothing, and by 2007 time had run out. Howard 'Vanderhorn' Nelson was found dead at his home in Lambeth, South London on the 7th of December, 2007. According to the Met “the Coroner was satisfied that there was nothing suspicious about his death and that he had died of natural causes”. The police then made enquiries to trace Howard's family, but to date, have not found any immediate, surviving relatives.

RIP, the man they called “The Horn”.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Behind the Scenes of The Sorcerers

An amateur cine film taken during the making of The Sorcerers in 1967 has just popped up for sale on Ebay. One would hope such a unique item will fall into the hands of someone who has the intension of releasing or at least publicly showing this footage, but on the off chance that this cine film never surfaces again, I thought I’d post the Ebay screenshots here for posterity (including one of Stanley Long tied to the back of a police car)

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Teri Martine’s 8mm Glamour Films DVD

As a little thank you for sending her a DVD of the early Pete Walker glamour film “The Intruder”, which I had transferred from 8mm back in December, Teri Martine sent me a DVD she has had put together of eight glamour films from the 1960s that showcase herself and her friend June Palmer, the original “Teri and June”, if you will. June’s early 8mm glamour films were directed by Harrison Marks, before June entered into the business side of things herself, setting up Strobe Studio in Clapham, whose 8mm glamour films were all directed by June’s partner Arthur Howell with June, understandably, as the films main focus of attention.

While many of the 8mm glamour filmmakers around in the 1960s fall into the category of chancers whose cinematic aspirations rarely went beyond documenting a simple striptease routine, the Strobe films were notably ambitious affairs, often riffing on popular film genres and titles. One title “Calamity June” (not on Teri’s DVD) was even a fully fledged oater with June as a gunslinger who gets her clothes shot off in the midst of a barroom shootout. As Arthur was also a stuntman by trade, and had worked on the early James Bond films, his 8mm glamour films weren’t afraid to get physical either. MISSION POSSIBLE and SPECIAL AGENT both cast June as a spy, and were mostly filmed at her flat. In Mission Possible she is sent orders to take out a rival agent, burns his picture, gets dressed and goes on his trail. Only for things to get kinky when she is overpowered and tied-up by her brutish target. In SPECIAL AGENT its June’s turn to be trailed back to her flat by murderous spies, resulting in a knife throwing assassination attempt, a gun fight, and ending with June throwing some poor schmuck out of a window. June punches and kicks her way through the films like a British, Swingin’ Sixties version of Tura Santana.

A less aggressive June is on display in PHOTO SESSION (1963), the first George Harrison Marks film on Teri’s disc. Doing exactly what it says on the tin, Photo Session was filmed at Ewhurst manor house in North London, a favorite location of GHM, and sees June and Marks fagging it in the garden before planning and executing a nude photo session. As June runs around the garden in a see-thru nightie, a young GHM merrily snaps away with his bolex, until both need a break, which provides a good excuse for them to start fagging it again (it has to be said, June does smoke allot in these films).

A more commonly seen GHM title STAR STRIP (1964), is another simple affair with June preparing herself in her dressing room, before performing a strip act onstage. Apart from the nudity, Star Strip is distinguished by the oddball presence of Marks regular Stuart Samuels as June’s accompanist who beams at June from the sidelines and plays the violin as she strips. No early GHM short is really complete without Stuart sticking his bald head and huge nose into the proceedings. Under heavy ghost face make-up, Samuels is even more exaggerated looking than usual in Star Strip, resembling a stray ghoul from Carnival of Souls, than the one time music hall comedian Samuels really was.

Teri herself takes centre stage in Harrison Marks’ THE MUMMY (1966), a film I’ve written up for the ‘Shrieking Sixties’, British horror films book, (which includes a couple of quotes from Teri). This Marks film sees a mummy rising from its tomb and peeking in on topless harem girls before making a grab for Teri. Played completely straight, the Egyptian themed sets, green colored lighting design, and mummy itself are all top drawer, and wouldn’t shame any Hammer or Amicus production of the period. Teri is on slightly safer ground in the anonymously made A DAY IN THE COUNTRY, which illustrates the problems of taking a nudist holiday in the British countryside, such as the terrible weather, and having your nude snooze in a field interrupted by a passing herd of cows !!!

June and Stuart Samuels return in GHM’s CHINA GARDEN (1966) in which June falls asleep in the company of a boring vicar (Stuart) and dreams she is in a china garden where Stuart pops up as a Fu-Manchu type character who uses magic to make her clothes disappear. It comes across as an early version of the ‘Lotus’ segment of GHM’s later feature film The Nine Ages of Nakedness, which may have been filmed on the same sets.

Teri has saved the best till last though, JUNE IN ORBIT, an Arthur Howell/Strobe film, stars Teri and June as astronauts traveling around space in their UFO. A pesky meteor shower results in Teri and June throwing themselves around the set, while the camera tilts around wildly, just like in an episode of Star Trek. The meteor shower also has the knock-on effect of heating up the UFO, resulting in outer space striptease routines from Teri and June. Howell had an entire space ship set put together for the film, and throughout displays low-budget ingenuity worthy of Ed Wood.

According to Teri, the spacesuits were made by June’s cleaning lady, the meteors were painted sponges, and the explosions on the ship were archived by having their friend Pat hide behind the set, smoke a cigar, and exhale huge breaths of smoke. Had the film been made with live sound all you would apparently have heard would have been the poor man choking!!! Teri still has her gold lame spacesuit from the film, and is rightly proud of the fact that she can still fit in it. Good for you, Girl!!

After the films, June and Howell continued to run Strobe Studios, whose photographic arm allowed amateur photographers to hone their skills by taking nudie shots of the glamour girls on Strobe’s books, which in the early 70s included Ava Cadell and a pre-David Sullivan, Mary Millington. June and Arthur themselves were persuaded back onto the big screen, albeit with their faces hidden by masks, as a kinky husband and wife duo in Stanley Long’s On the Game in 1973. Arthur continued to work as a stuntman and arranger in films like An American Werewolf in London and the first two Salkinds Superman movies up until the 1990s, he died in 2003. June, who married then divorced Howell in the 1990s, passed away a year later in 2004. Teri Martine moved to America in 1969, worked as a Playboy bunny for a time before embarking on a new career as a bondage model and photographer, a field she continues to work in today. June, Arthur and GHM may be gone, but June’s beauty, and the pop culture influenced world of espionage, naughty chinese mystics and foam meteors that Arthur and GHM dreamt up in order to show her off, vividly live on in these films. Teri’s versions of June in Orbit, Mission Possible and Secret Agent are the rare colour versions of these films, and are a big improvement over the grainy black and white copies of the Strobe films previously in circulation, which suffered from an ugly unnatural glow you tend to get with black and white versions of films originally made in colour. Teri can be contacted via her website, and tells me she sells the DVD for “around $15”, she can also be found regularly selling old and new photos of herself on Ebay.