Thursday 25 May 2023

Chained Girls (1965)

Chained Girls is a 1965 sexploitation flick which purports to be a documentary dealing with the subject of lesbianism. So it’s a mockumentary with a very serious voiceover narration because this isn’t exploitation, this is serious social science. Yeah right. 

This movie is from producer George Weiss (who produced Glen or Glenda) and was directed by New York-born Joseph P. Mawra, best known to cult film fans as the director of four of the infamous (and spectacularly entertaining) Olga movies in the mid-60s, recounting the adventures of the sexual sadist crime queen Olga.

To prove how scientific this all is we get lots of statistics, most of them made up on the spot. Some may have been lifted from semi-serious exposés of the time, who knows? We also get lots of quotes from Freud. There’s plenty of on-the-street footage of New York City in the mid-60s which is fascinating as a time capsule. 

There’s hardly any nudity. A few brief topless moments and one glimpse of the delectable June Roberts’ naked bottom and that’s it. But this is sexploitation legend June Roberts we’re talking about so her bottom is certainly a welcome sight. The sex scenes are just groping and fondling and kissing and cuddling but they do at times have a certain intensity and even an odd sleazy eroticism. We get endless scenes of girls stripping to their underwear, then putting their clothes back on, and then taking them off again. 

The movie makes a vague attempt to capture the feel of the lesbian sub-culture of the time, rather different from later lesbian sub-cultures, with its emphasis on a strict delineation between butches and femmes (for some reason the butches are always referred to as dykes rather than butches). It goes without saying that the film-makers’ understanding of that sub-culture is sketchy at best but that makes it more fun.

The political incorrectness levels are totally off the scale and into the stratosphere, adding yet another layer of fun. It’s hard to imagine anyone taking this movie seriously enough to be offended by it but anything is possible.

The highlights of the film are the steamy phone booth make-out scene, an incredibly violent lesbian cat-fight and the lesbian gang-rape scene. We get told about the rampaging gangs of baby butches terrorising the city but sadly we don’t get to see any actual rampaging baby butches.

The movie’s finale is the coming out party. These were, so we’re told, compulsory for newly recruited femmes. The butches draw straws to determine which of them will initiate the new femme, the initiation taking the form of the terrified femme being gang-raped. Considering that the femme has gone to a lesbian party for the specific purpose of being initiated into the joys of sapphic sex I’m not quite sure why she’s so terrified but hey, it makes a great climax.

The butches in this movie are just as pretty and feminine-looking as the femmes and the only way you can tell them apart is that the butches are the scheming and often sadistic  predators. You can tell the bull dykes though since they apparently smoke pipes.

It’s a mix of “documentary” footage and staged scenes and the staged scenes are the more amusing. There are the butches in the fashion industry, crazed with lust and desperately trying to get the models out of their lingerie. There are the college girl lesbians sharing dorm rooms although disappointingly they don’t seem to do much apart from wandering about in their underwear. There are the femmes cooking and keeping house for their butch mistresses. And of course respectable housewives sneaking out for some surreptitious lesbian loving.

The fact that there’s no real sex gives the movie a rather nice overheated atmosphere of suppressed desire. It’s all girls desperately wanting to get down to some serious lesbian sex and never quite getting there but getting teased into a frenzy.

This was 1965 so yes there are a few beehive hairdos and some cool mid-60s fashions.

Chained Girls is pretty ridiculous but it’s ridiculous in an amusing way. Something Weird paired this one on DVD with Daughters of Lesbos and an abundance of lesbian-themed short subjects - it’s a veritable smorgasbord of 1960s lesbian delights (and the shorts are even better than the two features). If sapphic smut is your thing (and I’m assuming you wouldn’t have read this far if it wasn’t) then you will want this disc.


Anonymous said...

“It’s hard to imagine anyone taking this movie seriously enough to be offended by it but anything is possible.”

More than a few reviewers on Letterboxd were outraged with the film. Personally, I thought it was hilarious.

dfordoom said...

Anonymous said...
More than a few reviewers on Letterboxd were outraged with the film.

LOL. I keep forgetting that we now live in a world in which so many people take everything literally and much too seriously. I feel so sad for people like that.

Personally, I thought it was hilarious.

Yes, same here.