Saturday, 10 April 2010

The Wild and the Naked (1962)

The Wild and the Naked is a strange little slice of US sexploitation dating from 1962. It’s included as an extra on Something Weird’s DVD release of Satan in High Heels .

Paulette is a French nude model living in the US. We see her driving off to a modelling session, then taking a break and having a nap. She falls asleep and has a strange dream, and that’s pretty much what the movie consists of. She has all manner of odd adventures in her dream, and somehow she just always seems to end up naked. She encounters the usual hazards that you expect to come across while wandering through an American forest - gorillas, naked jungle girls, cute men, sex-crazed hermits.

It’s not much more than an excuse to get Paulette naked as often as possible, but at least in the days of sexploitation movies there was some kind of plot (however flimsy) to justify the nudity. To be honest it starts to drag after a while, at least until the arrival of the go-go dancing nude jungle girls. That adds the kind of surreal touch the movie needs.

This is essentially a nudie-cutie, a genre that relied on outrageously unlikely plot devices and mostly rather innocent nudity without overt sexual content, but there are hints in this movie of the genre that would take the place of the nudie-cutie, the roughie (such as Russ Meyer’s Lorna which came out in 1964). There’s a bondage scene where the ex-crazed hermit ties up poor Paulette, but it’s done in such a bizarre manner that it’s hard to find it offensive - it’s just much too silly, and it is after all only a dream.

US sexploitation movies of the 60s are often extremely interesting, off-beat, quirky, sometimes quite experimental movies that reveal a good deal about the culture that produced them. The Wild and the Naked is a reminder that not all sexploitation films are as interesting as that, and some are nothing more than nudies pure and simple. Having said that, this one has a couple of odd touches and a strange innocence about it that prevents it from being a complete waste of time.

The image quality is acceptable, but not up to Something Weird’s usual standards. That’s presumably why they included this one as an extra (on the Satan in High Heels DVD) rather than advertising the DVD as one of their double features. It’s also, to be honest, not much more than an amusing curio but whenever someone gives you a whole feature film as an extra you can’t really complain.

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