Saturday, September 19, 2009

Movie Review: Babes in the Woods

Wow. This one brings back memories. Memories when nudity was fresh and innocent, even at its most naughty (and I use 'naughty' in the old sense, before it became synonymous with 'sleazy').

Babes in the Woods is by no means a classic, but it is so very typical of early 60's nudie cinema that instead of standing out, it represents the genre wonderfully. It's full of sweetness and situations that serve as nothing more than an excuse for the ladies to disrobe, after which they display themselves in various poses to good effect. It's a transition film, between the nudist camp "documentaries" that came before and the later, seamier "roughies".

Let's get the technical stuff out of the way. Babes in the Woods was shot in black and white, and was lost for forty years before Independent International Films rediscovered and restored it. As you'd expect from a film this old, you aren't getting a pristine transfer, but despite the minor scratch lines and jumps the copy is in great shape. Especially considering how cheaply the originals of this type were made and distributed. There was a brief stretch in the middle of the film where the sound/picture synchronization was off.

IIF didn't spend big money on packaging either. There are no extras on the disk. The main DVD menu offers two choices: play the movie (no chapter selection) or look at a few other titles that IIF offers (I do not consider previews like this to be extras). The menu scrolls off the bottom of the TV screen too, but there's (just barely) enough to tell which selection is which. Disappointing and frustrating, a little care towards this would have gone a long way towards making me believe that IIF actually cared about resurrecting a lost movie and was not just looking at the bottom line.

Ok, back to the babes. The storyline is better than you'd expect (yes, there is a story to it), but expect odd little touches and flourishes throughout, and some of them are laugh-out-loud funny. For instance, one of the girls falls into a puddle. She uses the outhouse around back to clean up, which inside is a fully furnished modern bath. I won't mention the physics involved of the inside being bigger than the outside, because I was distracted by the lovely young lady taking a long luxurious bubble bath. Indoor plumbing is overrated.

The nature photography is beautiful, and sometimes you get inspired scenes such as three naked women washing their clothes in the creek at the base of a beautiful waterfall.

The acting is over the top and exaggerated, this is burlesque, not Broadway. The character of Mrs. Figby, played by Pat Bolin, absolutely steals the show, although the narrator comes in a close second. The narration reminds me of those old nature documentaries we watched as kids, where you'd hear dialog like:

Mr. Beaver has a busy morning planned. He's measuring that tree, it'll be a perfect fit for his new dam.

Oh look, Mrs. Fox has brought her children out to play. She's keeping a close watch on Mr. Beaver because she doesn't trust his building skills.

But Mrs. Fox isn't the only one watching. After a long night awake, Mr. Owl is wondering whether he'll get any sleep at all with all the commotion down below.

Also making a very revealing appearance is Vicki Miles, aka Allison Downe, who made quite a few genre movies and also did a fair amount of directing, make up and screenwriting. Her name is associated with many cult classics of the time. She's also very easy to look at.

As are all the ladies, which is the point. Babes in the Woods is a return to a simpler time, when seeing pretty boobs was enough, and innuendo (what little there was) was played for laughs and not lust. It's all about the attitude, and Babes in the Woods is much closer to sweet and gentle Mayberry than it is to the big, bad city.

I really enjoyed Babes in the Woods, much more than I thought I would. Thanks IIF, for the memories.


Stephen said...

I hope they keep sending you movies. Your reviews are both enlightening and entertaining. Especially when you post on the weekend!

Rae said...

I'm definitely going to have to see if Netflix has this movie.

Henry said...

Yay Boobs! I'm going to try and get a copy of that.`

dogette said...

Dear People Who Give Ted Movies To Review:

We represent the legions of readers who eagerly await his next movie review. Please continue to send Ted free films to review. We would never know about your movies otherwise. Trust us.