Friday, 7 May 2021

Over 18... and Ready! (1969)

Over 18... and Ready! is a 1969 American sexploitation flick. Now if you were making a sexploitation movies in the 60s you couldn’t just shoot footage of naked women. You had to come up with with sort of vague plot that would explain why the girls kept taking their clothes off. Some sexploitation film-makers came up with genuinely inventive ways of doing this but if you didn’t have a really clever idea the easiest thing to do was to make a movie about sexploitation movie-making. There was a whole sub-genre of such movies and Over 18... and Ready! is one of those movies.

Barney Merritt (Larry Martinelli) makes skin flicks in Hollywood. He’s having trouble casting the female lead for his latest picture. There are plenty of girls available but Barney is choosy - he doesn’t want just any girl. She has to be the right girl.

At this point his secretary Lyn (Mary McRea) comes up with a bright idea. Why can’t she play the lead rôle? Barney isn’t sure that this is a good idea. Lyn is a nice girl and the movie will involve lots of sex and nudity. Which is interesting - in this sub-genre the sleazy film producer is usually the one actively trying to lure some innocent girl into taking her clothes off for the camera. But Barney tries to talk Lyn out of it.

Barney agrees to think about it over the weekend but when he gets home he remembers he left his briefcase at the office so he has to ring Lyn to ask her to get it for him. Lyn is in the bath when he phones (thus providing the movie’s first nude scene).

Lyn decides that if she’s going to persuade Barney to cast her she’ll need some photos to show him so she arranges a nude photo shoot shoot with a photographer acquaintance, thus providing the movie’s second nude scene. At this rate it looks like we’re going to get a prodigious amount of nudity. And we do.

Of course she sleeps with the photographer which leads to complications later when he decides he’s in love with her.

Lyn gets the part but then she discovers that Barney isn’t so moral after all. Not only is She expected to sleep with him, she’s expected to sleep with his wife as well. And maybe the maid as well (Barney and his wife are both sleeping with the maid).

The movie turns out to be a roughie but Lyn doesn’t mind because it’s her first step on the road to stardom. She doesn’t even mind the bondage and the whipping. It’s only acting after all and she’s an actress.

What she does mind is the idea of having sex with Barney’s wife. And after a while she decides she’s not particularly keen on having sex with Barney either, especially when she figures out that maybe she really likes the photographer after all. None of this stops her from moving in with Barney and his wife (she has her career to think of). And she’s not going to give up that glittering career. Sure, most girls who appear in skin flicks don’t go on to be major Hollywood stars but she knows that it will be different for her.

The script is pretty basic but it’s serviceable. The acting is bad, which you expect, but unfortunately it’s very restrained bad acting rather than entertainingly over-the-top bad acting.

Of course audiences at the time weren’t watching the movie for the acting or the writing. As for the modern audience for these movies, they’re definitely not watching for the nudity (although there is plenty of frontal nudity in this one) or the sex (which is of the ridiculously tame variety in which the guys always keep their shorts on). People today watch these movies in the hope of seeing a delicious campfest or an exercise in cinematic weirdness (and 60s sexploitation movies do very often deliver on both counts). This one just doesn’t have quite enough of either camp value or weirdness. It’s just a very basic stock-standard skin flick.

This movie is paired with The Alley Tramp in a Something Weird double-header release. The fullframe transfer is reasonably OK with some very minor print damage. It’s quite grainy, but that just makes it seem more sleazy so it’s really a feature rather than a bug. The aspect ratio is correct. Like most sexploitation flicks this one was shot in black-and-white.

Unfortunately The Alley Tramp is also a rather uninspired exploitation feature so this disc is just a bit of a disappointment (and it has to be said that it’s a rare disappointment from Something Weird). Over 18... and Ready! is really for sexploitation completists only. If you want a really really good sexploitation movie dealing with the same subject matter then Career Bed is the film you need to see.

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