Tag Archives: Babette Bardot

MEYER MONTH – Babette Bardot Pictorial

30 May

This was a post that narrowly missed this year’s MEYER MONTH that I did back in March. A couple of months late but  better late than never! Enjoy…

In searching for a little more information on Mondo Topless star Babette Bardot, I came across a lot of pin-up pictures of her during her modelling career that I hadn’t seen before. It seemed only right that as part of this year’s MEYER MONTH I include a pictorial of her alongside the one I’ve done on fellow Meyer girl Eve Meyer and the upcoming ones I have for the rest of this month.  As far as I know, Russ didn’t shoot any pictures of Babette as part of his photographic career and only worked with her in relation to the films Mondo Topless and Common Law Cabin. Bardot knew how to pose for a great picture so one can only imagine the results if she had teamed up with Meyer for a series of pictures…

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MEYER MONTH – The Bodacious Babette Bardot

12 Mar

Once viewed, Babette Bardot is never forgotten. Tall, curvaceous, well stacked, a perfect red pout and inches of voluminous platinum blonde hair. Think of your typical hourglass-figured caricature and you’ve got Bardot, thick fluttering black eyelashes and all. She only starred in two of Russ Meyers films, Mondo Topless and Common Law Cabin, but she made one hell of an impression. And yet, I know very little about her, so tried to piece together as much as I could find to create some sort of rounded profile on the girl.

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Swedish-French Babette Bardot was born in Goteborg, Sweden in 1940. She’s quoted by Meyer biographer Jimmy McDonough in his book Big Bosoms and Square Jaws as being  ‘the fourth cousin of Brigette Bardot‘ although there seems to be some contention online as to whether or not this is actually true. Another fact up for questioning is whether or not she really did model for artist Pablo Picasso in her teens which she exclaims she did. At some point in the early 1960s she became a cheesecake model and was a regular in glamour and pin-up magazines, appearing in Fling, Adam and Escapade to name a few. Judging from earlier pictures of her she has at some point had a fair amount of cosmetic surgery. I didn’t know whether her breasts were real or not, and had yet to read anything that said either way, until it was confirmed for me by Diana Hart in her book Under The Mat that she’d had a boob job. Looking at early pictures and comparing them to her later look in Russ Meyers films, it’s also clear that she had some sort of nose surgery and maybe even lip fillers. You wonder whether her caricature look was one that she had intended to construct for a long time.

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In the early 1960s she apparently worked on two Swedish films but I have found nothing to establish whether or not this is actually true or, if it is, what the titles were. Sexploitation director extroadinaire Russ Meyer found Bardot at the infamous Pink Pussycat on Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood, where she at one point had a headlining strip show (she previously used to dance before the legendary Tura Satana did her routine). Meyer asked her to appear in his mockumentary Mondo Topless and Bardot agreed, bringing some of her fellow co-workers along with her. There is no denying that Babette steals the show in Mondo, with Meyer even giving her assets pompous exaggeration; ‘French and Swedish, fifty-fifty where it counts!’. Once you see the images of her driving around San Francisco, topless, bouncing at every turn and bump, you’ll never be able to erase it from your memory. Even more so when you see her dancing and stripping off next to a train track, an oncoming locomotive in the distance and then roaring past. Only statuesque Babette would be discussing the intricacy of portraying a sexually mature woman with childlike innocence in her routines. Except that she manages to do it pretty easily, peeling off her stockings whilst sucking her thumb. My personal highlight is spotting the bruises up her thighs. Sign of a true pro, Bardot wasn’t once the highest paid stripper in the entire US for any old reason, reportedly earning a regular $2,500 a week.

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The following year in 1967 Bardot returned to play a character named after herself in Meyer’s Common Law Cabin. It’s here where Babette really shines, albeit in a glow of european campness. Every line is drooled in her thick French-Swedish accent making some words have an unintentional hilarious different meaning when in conversational context (‘rich’ ends up sounding more like ‘retch’). Having said that she does have some great scenes. I am a big fan of Common Law Cabin but if you’re not convinced, give it a watch just to see her in a tiny, push up bikini chopping fire wood with a machete. Then there’s her exotic fire dance atop a mountain, complete with wailing screams… Bardot plays off against her fellow leading lady Alaina Capri really well creating a memorable performance that stands out amongst those of other Meyer leading ladies. Capri herself said working with Bardot was ‘kind of wild’ which is hardly unsurprising. Accounts give the impression that this woman had a lot of energy, which director Russ would know all about. He claimed to have enjoyed a dalliance with Babette on set, with her frequently staying in his on-set accommodation. In true Meyer fashion, he blamed the films lack of success on the fact that there was too much extra-curricular action on set…

In 1967 she also appeared in I, Marquis de Sade in a minor role as one of de Sade’s girls. I can find very little about her brief role in this but it would again appear that she was hired based on her background of stripping and dancing. This and the two films she did with Russ Meyer appear to be her only film credits.

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On the back of her appearances in Meyer’s films and under the guidance of her husband Bob Baker (her manager and leader of the small band that accompanied her act), she toured the US as a burlesque dancer in 1968,  having shows at the Gayety Theatre in New York City, the Town Theatre in Chicago (of which I managed to find a photo essay of one of her routines in which she looks gorgeous) and the Colony Club in Dallas. Bardot toured the burlesque circuit internationally until she set up a residence at the Majestic Inn in Calgary, Alberta. The liberal laws in Alberta allowed her to strip completely nude, although she would maintain her thong during performances. She performed there nightly for six months before heading to Las Vegas where she not only danced but also sung. She also managed time to fit in another night with Meyer… and none other than Uschi Digard. One can only imagine the amount of breast on show that night (Tura Satana once said she was knocked out when she bumped into Bardot in Vegas in the 70s having not seen her since her early Pink Pussycat days, her words ‘silicone does wonders’ pretty much sums up the interaction).

Whilst in Calgary she became friends with the legendary wrestling family The Harts through wrestler Andre The Giant, a regular at her shows. In the early 1970s Bardot and her family, which by this point included two children Bobby and Bianca, would travel to Calgary yearly to perform at the Majestic Inn where she would perform a lunchtime show and an evening show. During this month they would stay with the Hart’s in the big family home. In 1973 Stu Hart billed her as Miss Stampede Wrestling (the wrestling promotion he ran) after spotting her popularity with other wrestlers he worked with (she was also friends with Terry Funk and Dan Kroffat) but it was always Andre at every one of her shows sitting in the front show. Apparently he was reluctant to miss any of her performances and would sometimes turn up late to bookings that Stu had arranged for him because he’d been to see her. Word on the street was that he secretly held more than a flame for her. Bardot appeared at many of the Stampede parades, regularly riding with the wrestling clan on their float. One summer, the horse she was riding on buckled after the float in front of it stopped and Babette was thrown into the road. Apparently in tears in a heap on the floor, she still managed to let her bulging cleavage show to the crowds supposedly embarrassing a young Owen Hart. As Miss Stampede Wrestling Babette also had frequent appearances on the Stampede Wrestling TV show, handing out awards, title belts at wins and greeting big name stars to the ring.

The last known appearance I can find that she did was in 1981, where she headlined the Babette Bardot Review at the Kings Inn Motel in Daytona Beach. It would appear that she passed away at some point in the early 00s. Tura Satana herself suggests on one online forum that Bardot remarried at some point but that her new surname wasn’t known to many people, including her, which renders much information seeking redundant. It’s a real shame because I would have loved to know where this enigmatic woman found herself after 1981 and what she was up to at the time. By all reports she was a lovely lady and left an impression on all those she met, as well as all of us Russ Meyer fans.

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MEYER MONTH – ‘Finders Keepers, Lovers Weepers!’ (1968)

7 Mar

Finders Keepers, Lovers Weepers isn’t your atypical Russ Meyer film. A picture that feels like a small slump in his career, Finders has none of the sleaziness, fun and venomous swipes of its predecessors Common Law Cabin and Good Morning… and Goodbye!. Nor is it as exciting and charming as its successor, the certificate challenging Vixen!. Sadly, this is a feature that feels like the director switched on autopilot and stopped caring, creating a picture that feels like a dull thriller television movie then a tantalising sexploitation escapade.

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Kelly (Anne Chapman) and Paul (Paul Lockwood) are an unhappily married couple, cheating on each other and generally being miserable in each other’s company (and in typical Meyer fashion, it is the husband’s sexual inadequacy and neglect that has forced the wife into adultery). Paul owns a bar and has a mistress Claire on the side (Lavelle Roby). Anne, unbeknownst to her husband, occasionally dances at said bar when he isn’t there and shows the punters a lot more than she shows him. On this one particular night however, the two of them get caught up in a heist job, headed by a man named Cal (Duncan McLeod) and things get… well, remotely interesting?

You’d be forgiven for assuming it all sounds a bit drab, because, quite frankly, it is. Now don’t get me wrong, I am under no illusions about Russ Meyer as a filmmaker and certainly do not consider him in some mythical, underrated ‘best filmmaker of all time’ in some semi-quasi Orson Welles kind of way. But Finders is without a doubt one of his weakest films. It’s tiny cast and minimal locations just aren’t enough to pull itself out from the ghastly shadow that is a terrible script. Full of badly written one-liners and dialogue that lacks any kind of emotion, the picture essentially feels like a made-for-television movie, with some added tits. And even then, there isn’t as much breast as you would have thought for a Meyer picture. Everything feels a little, well, lacklustre and probably at the expense of the plot’s restriction to allow much else to happen.

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What doesn’t help the picture is that its cast is one of the most forgettable out of all those used in Meyer’s filmography. Leading lady Anne Chapman, to bluntly put it, has none of the looks or charm of any of the other Meyer girls. Whilst it feels horrible to say she isn’t pretty, it’s just simply that there is nothing about her that makes her memorable; none of the natural good looks of Alaina Capri, the feminine caricature of beauty that Babette Bardot had or attitude that Tura Satana possessed. She certainly attempts to make the most of the main role that she has but is easily upstaged by Lavelle Roby who has a considerably smaller supporting act. Roby manages to ooze confidence, sex appeal and authority in the maximum of ten minutes screen time she is given, giving the role of brothel owner Claire much more of an impact than that of Kelly. When she turns up at the end of the picture in a cream mac and go-go boots touting a gun at the male cast, you almost wish Meyer had taken her character and made another film (Roby was cast two years later in Meyer’s first studio release Beyond the Valley of the Dolls). One can totally imagine the likes of Roby, Capri, Erica Gavin, Haji and Kitten Natividad going up against each other in some gang war-esque melodrama about their character’s sex lives.

The male cast is also just as mixed. Duncan McLeod (another cast member who would also later crop up in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls) is brilliant as the heist mastermind Cal, managing to effectively display his boredom for the job alongside his sadistic attitude to dealing with hostages. Robert Rudelson as his partner Feeny is a different kettle of fish altogether, playing the role of a complete nut job of a maniac with so much cliché that you wish he was written out of the script altogether. Sadly for the other two male cast members, Paul Lockwood and Gordon Wescourt, their fate is very similar to that of Chapman’s. With no personality or good looks and minimal acting ability, they are instantly forgettable. Even the director himself makes more of an impact in a split second cameo at the start of the film, leering over the bar’s topless dancer.

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Not that the film doesn’t have its clichéd Meyer moments, with the major sex scene being a highlight amongst the directors filmography. Underwater shots of bodies bumping and grinding against each other (which I will admit are beautifully lit) during sex are inter-cut with cars smashing each other at a derby. Yes its frenetic, yes it’s fast, but it’s also Meyer adding his ‘social redeeming value’ and moralisation to the story. The sin of the act of adultery is equatable to death. Not only does the editing get Meyer’s moral message across but diminishes the intensity of the characters orgasms, making it less of a target for obscenity persecution by the censors.  It’s worth fast forwarding the film to that one scene alone, probably the most entertaining and humorous part of the whole film which is only beats the ‘chest shaving’ scene to the top spot. In this, Paul gets his chest shaved at Claire’s brothel by one of the prostitutes who recounts her Amish childhood and incestuous relationship with her brother (flashbacks to her dressed in full Amish costume included). Meyer at one of his most random and equally un-arousing moments, it’s a scene that manages to equally appear quite innocent, as if the two were having sex for the first time. Apparently this was one of the directors favourite scenes and he was practically smacking his lips whilst shooting it.

Meyer had noticed the trend at that time of films switching from playing at drive-in theaters to hardtop indoor cinemas, one way of ensuing that those ‘tough’ moral types couldn’t catch a peek at what was screening and kick up a fuss. Finders Keepers, Lovers Weepers turned out to be a huge hit and even found itself playing at legitimate cinemas by May 1969. It’s booking into Philadelphia’s first-run Randolph Theatre (replacing the MGM release of The Shoes for the Fisherman which had tanked) is a significant breakthrough for Meyer as a filmmaker as up to this point in his career his films had usually played art-house cinemas. That didn’t stop people trying to get him into trouble, even though they weren’t very successful… There were at least two incidents, one in Louisiana and one in Missouri, were the court ruled in Meyer’s favour after prints of Finders were seized for being obscene, without a prior adversary hearing determining if it actually was.

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Not one of the directors best but worth a watch for his unconscious attempt at doing somewhat of a serious film, the noir feel of Finders Keepers, Lovers Weepers is one that could have been capitalised more on with a different cast and the final result eclipsed by the rest of his filmography.

Here, There and Everywhere – Russ Meyer’s ‘Mondo Topless’ (1966)

20 Oct

Russ Meyer‘s Mondo Topless is proof of two things. One, if you were ever unsure that the director had a breast fetish then this is the film for you, approximately sixty minutes of breasts and not a lot else. Two, that it is actually quite possible to get bored with boobs. Yes indeed.

Meyer’s vision of San Francisco sits perfectly with his ideal woman…

The premise of Mondo Topless is incredibly simple. Cashing in on the ‘mondo’ documentary craze that was common through the 1960s and 70s, Meyer made his own documentary focusing on breasts (what else?) and exotic dancers and models that he had come to know through his career. It wasn’t easy. The year before Meyer had released Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! which tanked commercially and made Meyer and his producer wife Eve little money. Scraping together $12,000 and shooting over five days, they filmed footage for the final feature. In 1963 Meyer had travelled to Europe to shoot footage for a documentary called Europe in the Raw! and recycled some of that into what would become Mondo Topless. Opening with a typical Meyer montage of the city of San Francisco, complete with a commentary full of innuendo, Meyer makes his intentions known from the outset; ‘Situated on precipitous peaks above yawning canyons… Precariously perched and poised on the tip of a peninsula’. After a few shots of strip joints and the reassurance that the topless craze is everywhere in 1960s America, Meyer introduces us to his girls and their assets. And boy do some of them have assets.

 The dancer with the hippy-chick vibe, Sin Lenee

First up is Pat Barringer, aka Pat Barrington, a platinum blonde topless dancer who also appeared in a handful of sexploitation pictures throughout the 60s. Second is Darlene Grey, the only girl from Britain in the picture and possibly Meyer’s bustiest find (a whopping 36H bra size). Go Go dancers Sin Lenee and Darla Paris show their frenetic moves in the forest, whilst Diane Young tries to bury herself in the sand with her energetic routine. Donna X, aka Trena Lamar who also appeared in earlier Meyer flick Wild Gals of the Naked West (1962), gets slow and sexy in a motel room and Babette Bardot (‘French and Swedish, fifty-fifty where it counts!’), star of Meyer’s 1967 feature Common Law Cabin, drives around San Francisco nude and dances to a passing train. Add a handful of performers from Europe (dances by performers Veronique Gabriel and Gigi La Touche were inserted from aforementioned Europe in the Raw!) and a few others from America and you’ve got your cast, dancing and jiggling their way across your screen.

Pat Barringer taking it low… I’m sure Lady Gaga saw this film in her early days, it’s just too obvious…

That is essentially it for the whole film, a group of women dancing and showing off the routines they would perform for men in strip joints and bars. Except that Meyer takes this one step further and adds an audio commentary by each girl over their performance, giving insights into their individual personalities, minds and attitudes towards their work, bodies and life. What began as a soundtrack of question and answer sessions between Meyer and his subjects was eventually dropped for the comments by the dancers themselves. The result is a bunch of random comments, some tedious, others unintentionally hilarious (‘Colour makes me feel sex’ is a great one-liner), juxtaposed with the images of the topless dancers, making for some rather odd moments. Judging by the bust of a few of the ladies and the manner of the film, you’d expect comments on their breasts, how difficult it is to buy swimsuits or find a bra the right size; ‘I didn’t really need to wear a bra ’til I was half way through junior high school. It all came late but it was there boy! No denying it!’. But much of the comments reflect the time in which the film was made, with defense cases made against their careers, what they think of feminism, their hopes for having future families and their opinions on the sexual revolution. As ‘insightful’ as it is, at the end of the day it all feels a little weird. After all, you don’t normally go and watch strippers or exotic dancers hoping to hear them speak…

Donna X, aka Trena Lamar, and Meyer’s trusty tape recorder…

Impressive soundtrack aside (I joke somewhat), Meyer’s girls are the real sight to behold in Mondo Topless, each memorable in their own unique way. Statuesque Babette Bardot drives around the city nude before exclaiming the difficulties in keeping a womanly appearance with childlike qualities during her strip routines. Take note too of the bruises up her thighs as she reclines to pull her stockings off whilst sucking her thumb. Dirty bitch. Pat Barringer proves that you can dance anywhere when duty calls, shaking her assets at the top of a telephone tower, out in the desert and in Meyer’s own swimming pool. You won’t remember Darlene Grey’s face but you’ll never forget her rather impressive bust. Arguably one of the most voluptuous girls Meyer has ever used throughout his entire career, the director managed to get shots of her rolling around in the mud before she left and was never seen again by the crew. Dancers Sin Lenee, Diane Young and Darla Paris have about as much impact as each other, all very much energetically into what they do but not so different. A result of working at the same club perhaps.

Darlene Grey and her eye-popping 36H bust

It’s very easy to tell the difference between the footage of the girls shot in America and the earlier European footage that’s intercut just on the appearance of the women themselves. Gigi La Touche is arguably the most naturally attractive girl in the whole picture, looking incredibly cute with just a sparkly guitar covering her modesty. Veronique Gabriel looks gorgeous but her routine amounts to nothing. Only with Meyer’s fetishistic camera angles on her costume and figure does she become alluring. Sadly most of the footage from Europe feels this way and contrasted against the later film shot in America it all seems a little tame and slightly passionless. Also shot and placed between clips of the girls dancing is footage of a pin-up having her photograph taken which feels slightly out-of-place, the static of her poses placed alongside the movement of everyone else. The final gem amongst all this is the test footage of Lorna Maitland before she filmed Lorna with Meyer in 1964, looking gorgeous in colour film stock which she never got to experience (Lorna was shot in black and white).

Babette Bardot takes the wheel in San Francisco

Pretty girls aside, it’s very easy to see how audiences now would get tired of this film really quickly, for it is essentially a one trick pony playing the same trick way too many times. In a society that has a huge placement on instant gratification, Mondo Topless represents the dying art of the tease. The film amounts to images of women dancing (and I know a lot of people who wouldn’t even consider it that these days), baring their breasts and not a lot else. No full frontal nudity, no sex. For generations bought up on the more explicit sex that Deep Throat (1972) help usher into cinemas and pornography that has become more accessible over the last ten years, films like Mondo Topless have become redundant. Their purpose to arouse long since reduced to a bygone era where titillation and the idea of ‘less is more’ once held more meaning and power. In a time when many aspects of culture and society are sexualized, Meyer’s film feels a little tame. It’s the beginning’s of foreplay that doesn’t lead anywhere else and, in all honesty, when you’ve seen a couple of pairs of boobs, the rest aren’t that different. Even as a major Meyer fan, I’ll openly admit that it’s a rather boring film, with a run time of sixty minutes feeling hugely inflated.

And yet its typical Meyer, the pure concentration of his fetish distilled onto celluloid. Upon viewing, you can’t deny that Meyer knew how to photograph the female form well and its evident that the camera loves it’s subjects. If you’re a keen exploitation film fan, its worth watching once for its place in sexploitation history but if you’re a big Meyer fan, it’s an absolute must.

Good Love, Bad Love – Russ Meyer’s ‘Common Law Cabin’ (1967)

4 May

What do you get if you mix a father obsessing over his daughter, a buxom French burlesque dancer, a rich kid on the run, a wise-cracking curvaceous brunette and an angry Ginger Cop on the run? The answer could only be Russ Meyer’s 1967 release ‘Common Law Cabin’ aka ‘How much loving does a normal couple need?’. One of his sexploitation films made before his certificate-challenging 1968 picture Vixen, the film isn’t as sex and nudity heavy as some of Meyer’s other films but still bears all the hallmarks of your typical Meyer sex film fare.

Common Law Cabin opens with views of the idyllic Colorado River and an over the top monologue that tells the audience all about the changing faces of nature itself. However, this is a Meyer film and like previous films of his with the same device (The Immoral Mr. Teas, Vixen, Mondo Topless) this monologue is full of double entendre, describing the scenes that are about to unfold. The setting is ‘one river, taking and leaving like a woman’  with ‘torrential flows, rivers of cruel intent as well as pleasure and life providing water ways’. If you’re not familiar with Meyer’s output, this tells you before the film has really begun that there will be women with attitudes, lots of conflict and, of course, sex.

The film concerns the Hoople family who live on a ranch out in the American country. They own a run down tourist trap and must rely on the nearest town’s alcoholic, Cracker, to entice tourists to spend time and money there. The ‘only game reserve within a thousand miles’, there’s clearly some familial trouble and its only going to get worse once Cracker brings the visitors. Setting the tone, we are firstly introduced to the daughter, Coral Hooper (Adele Rein). All pigtails and ignorance, she likes to swim nude and her father doesn’t like it. After a nice title sequence (one of my favourite scenes in the whole film in which you can see the original title How much loving… underneath the superimposed title Common Law Cabin. This sometimes happened in exploitation films when pictures got renamed. Tarantino spoofed this idea in his film Death Proof in which you briefly see the ‘original’ title Thunderbolt before the new title is shown.) we meet Mr. Dewey Hoople (Jackie Moran) who likes to vocalise just how much he doesn’t like his daughter walking around with little on. He spy’s on her throughout the film, leering through binoculars whilst the rest of the cast comment on his ‘little habit’, not least of all his new girlfriend Babette. Played by French burlesque star Babette Bardot, cue lines drooled in a thick French accent, such as ‘They at least know the difference between a wife and a daughter’ and ‘Its your wife that’s dead and your daughter that’s alive’. His excuse? His dead wife and his daughter look like twins. Enough said.

Babette Bardot and Jack Moran as the Hoople’s. Something tells me he’s missing the point here somewhat…

 Skip to the nearest town and we meet the unfortunate folk persuaded to take a day trip to Hoople Haven. One guest is the mysterious Barney Rickert (Ken Swofford), the soon to become angry Ginger, and married couple Dr and Mrs Ross, who seem to have their own problems they’re bringing to the table. Sheila Ross (Alaina Capri) is a gorgeous savvy flirt, out to find pleasure with any man she can flirt with. Dr Ross (John Furlong) is the husband whose not giving her any and has grown detached from her. Arriving at the run down tourist attraction on Crackers boat (the guy’s a drunk but he can drive a boat really well), the Ross’s go off to meet the Hoople’s whilst Rickert pays Cracker to leave and come back in two days time instead of collecting them later that evening… It seems the only thing to do at the ranch is drink and enjoy the ‘entertainment’ which consists of this dance, courtesy of Coral…

 

You’d pay to see that, right?

Staring too much as his daughter’s wiggling behind, Mr Hoople smashes a glass in his hand. After bandaging his wound and Dr Ross having another argument with his wife (‘Must you pant, it’s an animal trait.’ ‘Its the bitch in me dear, or don’t you remember? Its been such a long time.’), we bear witness to another ‘dance’ which see’s Babette running up a mountain, screaming in what sounds like horror and brandishing fire torches. Unfortunately, I can’t find a video of it on Youtube. At this point in the film, all the action starts and the plot begins to get a little convoluted.

So, in a nutshell… Sheila and Rickert have sex. Rickert tries to assault Babette. Lawrence Talbot III (Andrew Hagara), an heir to a $40 million fortune, goes missing (Where did that come from?! The radio. Meyer makes sure we hear the broadcast, playing whilst Mr Hoople and Babette are making out.). Rickert tries to rape Coral but gets interrupted by Lawrence arriving on his boat. Dr Ross and Sheila have an argument and he hits her. Lawrence and Coral decide they like each other and make out. Finally, during a play fight Sheila kills her husband by kicking him in the chest (he had a ‘bad heart’).

Death by  play fight.

After all of this, Rickert starts to show his true colours and turns into the angry Ginger. Knowing that Sheila knew how to kill her husband, he recruits her to work for him, asking her to by her some time. Turns out that Rickert is an ex-detective on the run, wanted by police for stealing a fortune in jewellery! So while Sheila does what she does best, seducing Mr Hoople, Rickert knocks out Babette and shoots a returning Cracker dead. After threatening to kill Babette, he takes Lawrence and Coral hostage, shoots the gasoline tank of Crackers boat and escapes on Lawrence’s boat leaving everyone else behind. Then he shoots Sheila. After wrestling with Lawrence and Coral on the boat, and in the water, Rickert is finally killed by the unmanned boat hitting him; ‘That boat clobbered Rickert’s skull like a melon’. The Hoople’s and Lawrence live happily ever after.

One of Meyer’s underrated films, Common Law Cabin is worth a watch just for the ridiculous plot alone. Compared to some of his other films, it’s not that heavy on sex and nudity. Although the characters do have sex, all the women parade around in bikini’s covering everything up and the only real nudity you see are some underwater shots of Babette while she’s swimming. Even then you only get to see her bum but its a lovely one at that. The turning point for Meyer would be the following year when he released Vixen which was far more explicit in its depiction of sex and nudity.

Typically for a Meyer film, it even has what he called ‘redeeming social value’ which allowed him to get away with all the exploitative points in the picture. Sheila’s bad behaviour, killing her husband and infidelity are ‘justified’ by her murder at the end, which also ‘justifies’ all that time spent in a bikini and having sex with men she shouldn’t be. Babette gets knocked out, assaulted and ‘punished’ so she learns her lesson for bad-mouthing Mr Hoople, and because she’s always in a bikini baring her flesh. Another characteristic of Meyer’s films is punishing the man who can’t please a woman. In this case, Dr Ross being killed by his own wife…

 

Actress Alaina Capri

 The main draw for me is the actress Alaina Capri, cast in the role of Sheila Ross. Alongside Erica Gavin (Vixen) and Tura Satana (Fast Pussycat! Kill! Kill!), Capri is one of the few actresses in Meyer’s filmography who can truly act and give a natural performance. She sizzles on screen, delivering lines with a bite and sting that some women can only dream of having. In the film, she’s full of sex appeal and it’s easy to see why Meyer cast her. Naturally beautiful, Capri is incredibly buxom and has a seductive charm. When she smiles, she has the most amazing cheekbones and rounded cheeks and, in both of the two Meyer films she starred in, her hips always sway gently when she walks. Capri is one of my favourite Meyer leading ladies and its such a shame he didn’t use her more often. After the release of the second film they did together, Good Morning and… Goodbye!, she got upset with Meyer after he lied to her about the amount of her flesh he showed on the screen. She never acted again and left Hollywood to become a teacher. Capri was terrified that someone would find out about her past but, despite their falling out, Meyer never told anyone where she was and respected her anonymity.

People often ask me why I like Russ Meyer and give me very strange looks when I tell them. The same scene always runs through my mind, of Capri as Sheila remarking after seeing Babette’s fire dance; ‘Its different honey, I’ll say that’.   

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