Sunday, 25 February 2018
The Alley Tramp (1968)
Lewis was an important figure in exploitation cinema in the 60s but somehow I’ve always found his movies to be not quite as much fun as they sound like they’re going to be. The Alley Tramp is no exception. The threadbare plot isn’t a problem. Plenty of sexploitation film-makers could have taken such a flimsy idea and made a highly entertaining film out of it. Lewis’s approach just seems lifeless, as if he just wanted to get it over and done with.
The plot revolves around young Marie Barker (Julie Ames). Marie is sixteen, but she’s not exactly sweet sixteen. Her mother has always feared that one day she’d run wild and now she’s convinced that those fears have turned out to be well-founded. What sets Marie off is the sight of her parents having sex (which is apparently a very rare occurrence in the Barker household). As everyone knows this is a sight that can trigger nymphomania in teenage girls, and Marie is soon running amok sexually.
Her first target is her good-natured third cousin, Phil. Phil is a decent enough young man but he is utterly unable to resist Marie’s very determined advances.
Marie’s mother Lily (Amy Heath), already suffering from extreme sexual frustration, suspects that her husband is having an affair (which he is, with his secretary) and since her chances of ever getting any marital sex seem remote she decides to have an affair as well. She picks Herbie as a good prospect, or at least a good prospect for a woman who likes it rough (as Lily does).
Inevitably things get complicated, with Marie seducing Herbie. After having an abortion and then seducing the doctor in the hospital Marie is packed off to a mental institution. But all is not lost. Her parents are assured that nymphomania is a treatable medical condition.
The sex scenes are pretty much what you expect in a 60s sexploitation feature, the sex mostly taking place under the bedclothes with the men keeping their jockey shorts on at all times. There is however plenty of nudity, including frontal nudity, and including at least one remarkably explicit shot that Lewis presumably hoped (rightly as it turned out) that he could get away with. Or perhaps he was so uninterested he didn’t notice it himself.
Julia Ames and Amy Heath are both quite attractive (with Amy Heath looking rather young to be the mother of a sixteen-year-old) and they both spend plenty of time naked.
This film features some of the worst acting you will ever come across. That turns out to be its saving grace. Julia Ames is atrocious but she’s enormous fun especially when she goes completely over-the-top in the scene in which Marie finally snaps and lets her mother know exactly how things are going to be from now on. It’s a gloriously epic piece of overacting. Amy Heath is no slouch in the overacting department either. Between the two of them they turn what could have been a dull film into a deliciously entertaining exercise in bad but thoroughly enjoyable film-making.
There is also a brief go-go dancing scene. More go-go dancing would have helped but we have to be grateful for what we get.
Something Weird paired this one with another sexploitation film, Over 18…And Ready! (which I haven’t watched yet). The Alley Tramp looks terrific. There’s the usual array of Something Weird extras.
The Alley Tramp is I suppose a borderline roughie, although it lacks the edge to qualify as a fully-fledged member of that species.
It has to be admitted that this is far from being a classic of the genre but it is a must-see movie for true connoisseurs of excruciatingly bad acting. If you’re a H.G. Lewis completist you’ll also be interested.