Friday, 3 September 2021

Rent-a-Girl (1965)

Rent-a-Girl is a 1965 American sexploitation movie which belongs to the roughie sub-genre, although it’s very much at the mild end of that sub-genre. It was written and directed by William Rose and shot (in black-and-white) in New York.

So perhaps I should start by explaining what a roughie is. In the early 60s the sexploitation genre was dominated by nudie-cuties. Nudie-cuties contained quite a bit of T&A but it was all done in a light-hearted good-natured wholesome and definitely non-sexual sort of way. Then a number of sexploitation directors and producers got the curious idea into their heads that American audiences would soon grow tired of looking at naked women. They decided they needed a new exploitation genre. Their solution was to add violence and sadism to the mix whilst still keeping the sexual content as innocuous as possible.

Karen Anderson is having boyfriend troubles and she’s lonely and depressed. She hears the sounds of merry-making in the apartment upstairs and decides to cheer herself up by introducing herself to her neighbours. She mets Evelyn Marshall and later Evelyn’s brother Adam. They seem very nice and they even tell her they might be able to get her some modelling work. Karen is the kind of girl whose judgment goes straight out the window when the prospect of a career in modelling is dangled in front of her. 

But it seems to work out really well. At first.

The modelling is just a little bit more risqué than she’d expected. She has to strip down to bra and panties. But she figures that that’s pretty normal even in respectable modelling. That sort of stuff appears even in respectable magazines.

In fact Evelyn and Adam are luring innocent girls into working in their call-girl ring. Their service specialises in kinky stuff. But they introduce their girls to that kinkiness very gradually. Karen still think it’s just regular modelling and she’s enjoying it and feeling really good about herself. So she’s not worried when the suggestion is made that she should do some nude modelling for them. It’s very tasteful and it seems harmless. And Evelyn and her brother are so sweet to her.

Karen has two problems looming of which she’s blissfully unaware. Firstly she’s going to be pushed into prostitution and kinky sex stuff and secondly she’s going to find that when she decides to quit it isn’t so easy. Evelyn and Adam don’t like their girls quitting on them. They don’t like it at all.

Evelyn and Adam provide their girls to wealthy clients with odd sexual tastes. Those clients aren’t always men. One of their best clients is Harriet Grant who is very rich and very kinky. She likes disciplining girls. Harriet, having seen some of her photos, has decided she definitely wants Karen. She’s throwing a big party which will be a kind of orgy and she intends Karen to be the main attraction. Karen knows about the party and of course has no idea of the sorts of things that go on at Harriet’s parties. If she attends she’s going to be in big trouble.

This was 1965 so while there’s a lot of nudity it’s just T&A. There’s only the mildest suggestion of actual sexual activity. The kinky stuff is ridiculously tame and rather amusing, except for one scene at the end which comes out of nowhere.

Rent-a-Girl has plenty of classic roughie ingredients with some of the delightfully weird touches that 60s American sexploitation movies so much fun - there’s some light bondage, a bit of whipping, a noughts-and-crosses game played on a nude girl’s body, girls sprayed with soda siphons, predatory lesbians, strip billiards and crazy Bohemian artists. And since this is 1965 it’s an absolute bonanza for viewers who like seeing girls in stockings and suspender belts. You’ll spot a few bouffant hairdos (which is always a plus). And there’s some very 60s dancing.

The cast includes three of my favourite sexploitation ladies of the 60s - Gigi Darlene, June Roberts and Darlene Bennett. They're always great to see. And Barbara Wood as Karen gives a competent acting performance. And Evelyn and Adam are great sleazy scheming villains. 

Rent-a-Girl is part of a Something Weird triple-feature (teamed with Aroused and the fabulously strange but entrancing Help Wanted: Female). The transfer of Rent-a-Girl is mostly very good although with occasional mild print damage. The black-and-white image is pleasingly sharp with good contrast.

Rent-a-Girl is classic 60s sexploitation, in other words it’s delightfully weird silly fun. Highly recommended.

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