Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Battle of the Beasts: UK Vs France

Escaped gorillas running amok and terrorising naked ladies was the theme of at least two competitive 8mm glamour films from the late 1950s/early 1960s. The first, homegrown affair ‘Beauty and the Beast’ was the work of Stanley Long and Arnold Louis Miller. Long apparently didn’t think much of this early effort of his when he was reunited with it a couple of years before his death, and therefore may have regretted sending me a tenner for my 8mm copy of it. The second gorilla themed 8mm glamour film ‘Visite Impromptu’ was French made, and released on 8mm in the UK under the title ‘Beauties and the Beast’. The largely undocumented nature of the 8mm glamour film market of this era makes it difficult to say which film was released first or whether one stole the other’s idea (the sound-alike titles and similar themes do point to a degree of plagiarism here).

As to which film is the better of the two, the cineaste in me is leaning towards Visite Impromptu, it benefits from outdoor location work, the luxury of a French chateau setting and a more elaborate plot. The fact that Visite Impromptu also has more nudity and female cast members than Beauty and the Beast were likely plus points for the 1960s 8mm glamour film audience as well. Still I have to admit if this were simply about gorilla costumes then the Long film would be the clear winner here, the one in Visite Impromptu is an absolute shocker.

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