It’s definitely a nudie-cutie, a genre that emerged when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that nudity as such was not obscene. Anything even remotely approaching sex on the other hand was still forbidden and most distributors considered it wise not to push things by including any full frontal nudity. The solution was the nudie-cutie, more often than not set in a nudist camp, with at best a wafer-thin lightweight plot serving as an excuse for the nudity and lots of gags to keep the tone light-hearted. The nudity had to be kept absolutely non-sexual.
Hideout in the Sun breaks many of these rules. It creates its own sub-genre, the nudie-cutie film noir. It not only has a plot, it’s a reasonably coherent plot, and it’s a genuine crime movie as well as a nudie-cutie. The plot is not just an excuse to get the characters to a nudist camp - the crime plot keeps going throughout the movie.
It differs from the roughies that started to appear a few years later in remaining light-hearted and innocent. How do you make a film noir light-hearted and innocent? It isn’t easy but this movie gives it a try.
This film takes another big risk. We get some shots of a naked girl in the opening credits sequence but for the first 25 minutes of the actual film there’s not a hint of naked flesh and the focus is entirely on the crime movie plot.
Another risk taken here is the inclusion of a love story. It’s a risk in the sense that if you have a man and a woman obviously falling madly in love and they’re both spending most of the movie naked you are entitled to wonder if they’re likely to start taking a less innocent interest in each other’s nakedness.
The crime plot concerns two armed robbers, Duke and Steve. Duke is the brains of the outfit and he’s a very hardboiled and possibly dangerous character. Steve is a nice guy who allowed himself to be talked into participating in the robbery even though he was never enthusiastic about it and he’s now seriously regretting it. The robbery goes smoothly but the well-planned getaway runs into problems. Duke and Steve kidnap Dorothy (Dolores Carlos) and steal a car and start looking for somewhere to hide out. When Duke discovers that Dorothy is on the staff of the Hibiscus Country Club he decides that would be a perfect place to lie low for a while.
What Dorothy neglects to tell them is that the Hibiscus Country Club is a nudist club.
Duke is not thrilled at all about this development. Steve on the other hand seems quite happy to shed his clothes and spend his time doing nudist camp stuff with Dorothy. And falling in love with her.
The crime plot is unexpected in a nudie-cutie but it’s not a bad idea. No matter how pretty the girls too much nude volleyball and nude archery can get wearying so Wishman keeps bringing us back to the crime plot.
You might be thinking that this movie sounds worryingly like a real movie rather than a glorious exercise in Doris Wishman movie insanity and this is true to some extent. The two main plot-lines, the attempt of the robbers to escape the police dragnet and the love story, both get resolved in a relatively straightforward and successful manner. There’s even an action climax, set in the Miami Serpentarium, and it’s fairly effective. The plot would pass muster in the average crime B-feature of its era.
There was an art to shooting a nudie-cutie. The objective was to show every square inch of bare female flesh that you could get away with without allowing any glimpses of the pubic region. This movie follows that rule for the most part but does risk some brief flashes of pubic hair. And film-makers being an inventive lot they quickly came up with ways of sailing a bit closer to the wind. Ways like underwater swimming scenes, in which you could risk frontal nudity as long as the details were slightly obscured. This movie must be one of the earliest movies to try that trick.
The acting in a Doris Wishman film has to be judged by Doris Wishman film standards. The worse the acting the better, it all adds to the enjoyment. Greg Conrad chews the scenery as Duke. Earl Bauer as Steve just gazes adoringly at the wonderfulness that is the naked Dorothy. Dolores Carlos as Dorothy is pretty terrible but what you want from an actress in a nudie-cutie is not someone who can act but someone who is pretty and can be totally relaxed about being nude for most of the picture. And Dolores Carlos is definitely pretty and having been one of Bunny Yeager’s models she was presumably an old hand at taking her clothes off for the camera. In fact there are apparently quite a few Bunny Yeager models in the movie.
I should also mention the theme song (actually written for the movie by Wishman’s niece) which is kinda cute. None of Wishman’s movies can be described as conventionally good but I thought Hideout in the Sun was great fun, and not just for all the nude girls.
The Retro-Seduction Cinema DVD offers both a full-frame and a widescreen version of the movie. The correct aspect ratio is almost certainly 1.33:1. The transfer is pretty good. Sexploitation movies in pristine condition are a rarity. The colours look pretty good especially given that the movie was shot in Eastmancolor. There are lots of extras including a commentary track. There’s also another 27-minute nudist camp film of unknown origin. It’s a worthwhile inclusion because it shows just how awful such movies could be. Wishman at least understood that you cannot rely purely on nudity. You have to do other things as well to make a nudie movie entertaining. And Wishman clearly understood that nobody wants to see real nudists nude. They want to see beautiful young women nude, so she used glamour models. Postcards from a Nudist Camp, despite copious quantities of frontal nudity, is a whole lot less alluring than Hideout in the Sun.