"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

10 from 2010: A short history of sleaze

One of the sites I frequent is Bob Freelander's Rupert Pupkin Speaks, where he makes lists of his favorite films in various categories. Lately, he's had guests name 10 films they saw for the first time in 2010. I want in on the action, but I'm not the expert that those guests are. Each year, however, I see films that no one else sees, including film scholars; 2009 was the year of 1950's 3-D seen in original format, but 2010 became the year of weird foreign films and especially the year of historic sleaze.

The Adventures of Chinese Tarzan (1940)

Though China's always had a thriving film industry, every change in government has led to burying the past and thus it's difficult to find old Chinese Films. This version of Tarzan, starring Peng Fei, is well, pretty much what one would expect of a 1940 Chinese Tarzan pic.

Female Hamlet (1977)

I'm not sure why someone in Turkey thought another filmed version of Shakespeare's play was needed. I'm not sure how much of the original poetry is maintained in translation. I'm really not sure why a woman was cast as the lead. I'm not sure why I watched this.

The Kaiser of California (Luis Trenker, 1936)

The nazi film industry made a film about what the United States would be like after they took over. How this never got a theatrical re-release after Arnold Schwartzenegger got elected governor, stumps me.

How Bridget Served the Salad Undressed (1898)

A one-joke film that's obvious from the title, this is the earliest film I can find that has nudity.

Sucking Chest Wounds (undated)

This is an army training film about how to treat said wounds in the field. I won't try to put a date to it, as that would just point out how little I know about vehicles, clothes and medical procedures. The army made a lot of hard-to-watch films, but this requires an especially strong stomach.

A Free Ride (ca. 1915)

This is perhaps the first "stag" film ever made. A woman needs to get from Point A to Point B, but she has no money and she's willing to do anything.

The French Peep Show (Russ Meyer, 1950)

"The Immoral Mr. Teas" (1959) is usually considered the first film by the director, but he filmed Tempest Storm doing her burlesque act almost a decade earlier.

An Execution By Hanging (Thomas Edison, 1902?)

In the earliest days of film, a camera was just placed somewhere, turned on and never moved. Audiences were amazed to see places they'd never seen, like Paris or Tokyo. Then, after seeing these, they got jaded and wanted something more. Some distributors just took their films to ever-smaller towns, some got innovative ("A Trip Down Market Street" shows San Francisco days before the earthquake by trolley - while the camera never moved, there was continuous motion) and some started adding plots to film. Edison apparently thought that, if people want stories, they'll read a book; he opted to go for ever more sensational subject matter. "Electrocution of an Elephant" is available on YouTube. "In the Tombs" is rather grisly. In "Execution," Edison verged on making the first "snuff" film.

Forbidden (Irving Klaw, ca. 1950)

Klaw made a living selling photos of girls in various states of undress, usually in some bondage situation. He also made some movies of the same type, most of which he burned. Four films he did of Bettie Page are easily found on the internet, but this film is trickier to see. Girls strip down, tie each other up and then start giggling, as the absurdity hits them and they realize they have no idea what to do next. It's surprisingly charming.

White Slaves of Chinatown (Joseph Mawra, 1964)

You might actually be able to find this movie! The Findlays (Roberta and husband John) produced a lot of grindhouse films and several have moments that transcend the genre. For example, "Shriek of the Mutilated" has a death-by-toaster scene at the start that made me laugh hysterically (that wasn't the intent, I'm sure... and I felt rather icky for my response), before it bogs down in plot and character development. "White Slaves of Chinatown" is the third of a series, following "Olga's Girls" and "Madam Olga's Massage Parlor." It's the best of the three, with a number of imaginative death scenes, such as the one involving dipping a cat's claws in poison. Correction: IMDB has this as the first of the series.


Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...


Uh ... I have nothing to add.

Xenia said...

You watch a lot of crazy shit. However, I'm not surprised at the high percentage of artsy-ish p0rn.

Also, I'm disappointed in G for not remarking on any of this. Boo!

Anonymous said...

You should check out Cannibal Holocaust (from the 70s, I believe?) and Philosophy of a Knife (more recent). I like sleaze!

shannon said...

I would like to organize official pacers for the Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon this May. Our field size has continued to increase over the past 4 years and I think the addition of pacers to the race would attract even more runners. In 2008, the inaugural marathon field size was capped at 50. Last year we had 196 runners. This year we hope to fill the field with 350 runners.

So far, we have a 4-hour pacer. I would like to possibly have a 3:30, 3:40 and a 4:30 pacer. Obviously, we would comp the entry fee for the pacers.

The certified course is flat and fast. It is run on a 10-foot wide asphalt bike trail. I ran this race last year, and from a runners perspective, it is a beautiful marathon.