Saturday, August 1, 2009

Hideout in the Sun

Ah, the nudie cutie picture. You gotta call the nudie cutie a 'picture' as opposed to a movie because that's what movies were back in those days, pictures. It just sounds better that way. Hideout in the Sun (1960) is Cavalcade favorite Doris Wishman's first picture. For those Wishman-uninitiated, she's one of the most prolific female directors in history (female directors still being somewhat of an anomaly) and popularized nudist movies, as well as made roughies, horror movies, and all manner of sexploitation films in a career spanning almost four decades. Although some refer to her as the female Ed Wood, I love her, but I love Ed Wood too, so there.

You would think that a nudie cutie would necessarily have to have a plot. Well, this one is a bit smarter, I suppose, and it does - it concerns brothers Steve and Duke, two bank robbers, who have just hit a joint for a hundred grand. Duke, the ringleader of the pair and a bit Bela Lugosi looking, does the actual stealing, while Steve reluctantly drives the getaway car. After the heist (while this movie does take place in '60, Duke speaks likes he's strait outta of a 40's noir picture - it's all 'heist', 'double cross', 'dame', 'curtains' and he's the only one that talks like this), the brothers head to the marina to catch a boat to Cuba. Rodriguez, the boat captain, doesn't like the heat the recent robbery has brought (the brothers' deeds are all over the news), and decides not to disembark for Cuba yet, telling them to come back in a little while.

The brothers go to a shopping center and highjack Dorothy and her car as the lovely redhead is leaving a dress shop. Duke demands she take them to her destination where they can lie low until their boat can leave. Dorothy explains she's on the way to the Hibiscus Country Club, and Duke thinks this'll be the perfect spot to hide out. Upon arriving however, they realize the Hibiscus is a nudist camp, and Duke couldn't be more pissed, as is his way. He threatens Dorothy with violence and chain smokes and Steve decides When in Rome and joins the nekkid revelers in the pool, well, wearing a towel.

Steve's liking what he sees, and remarks how healthy and happy all the nudists look. And indeed they do. Nudists have a good time, man. They play volleyball, they swim in the pool and sunbathe, they drink ice cold Coca-Colas, they just relax. The nudist camp is a a pretty idyllic and easy going place, innocent as it were even despite the nudity, and Steve figures he could get used to this way of life, as well as life with Dorothy. I mean, he's already seen her naked.

But reality check time ensures Steve and Duke must head back off to their boat, which incidentally leaves without them. Duke hits Steve on the head and takes off with the money case, running straight into a Serpentarium (Lord, how I wish there were still such things as Serpentariums - basically a south Florida institution housing all manner of poisonous snakes and reptiles in pastel colored enclosures with a giant fiberglass snake out front - sounds like heaven, doesn't it?), and falling victim to a Cobra bite, which kills him instantly. Steve calls the cops and turns himself in, but not before returning to Hibiscus to tell Dorothy to wait for him, which she agrees to, and SCENE.

I was pleasantly surprised by the complexity of the plot. It's not super complex, don't get me wrong, but I was kinda surprised there was a plot at all. The nudie cutie was commerically viable because it was the only way back in the day you could go to the cinema and see boobs. Mind you, there was no full-frontal, all the nudists conceal their junk with beach balls, towels, flowers, all manner of props, because you couldn't just let your balls or your pubic hair hang all out. But breasts were cool and perverts would undoubtedly go see these flicks to see the boobies. Especially by today's standards, this movie seems as tame as it gets. It's all innocence and suntans and beach volleyball.

But seriously folks, how long can we really watch a bunch of naked people play volleyball and swim in the pool? Not very long. And as much as I loved this movie, the happy-go-lucky nudist parts often dragged. (But it's still a beautiful picture - the retro kitsch factor is unbelievable - something about that South Florida setting in the 60's.) Apparently, as times changed, however, the nudist movie died along with the fact that audiences wanted more hardcore and Wishman would be on hand over the next several decades to deliver. Can't say that I blame them.

This is an excellent starting point for budding Wishman fans, because it's a great slice of early exploitation cinema shot by a lady. And the vintage cheesecake shots are not to be missed. Think naked girlies romping and posing in fountains. It's as sexy as this gets, really. It seems this film was ultimately lost, until Wishman found a pristine copy in her storage room some forty years later. So now it's been given anamorphic treatment and looks fantastic. If you watch one nudie cutie picture this year, please let it be this one. Or you can watch Nude on the Moon, I don't care.


  1. Jenn: Like you, calling this director the "female Ed Wood,”' makes me want to see her work all the more (big Wood fan as I am). I had not heard of Doris Wishman prior to this post - so good deal!

    Reading your post, you make the picture sound quaint and sort of sweet, harkening back to the days when partial-frontal nudity was all it took to set one off on a good daydream; and when beach balls and towels always covered up the more serious equipment.

    And damn, your right! Those nudists always seem to be having the damn time of their lives in those colonies. They frolic, is what they do! Always running places and laughing. I found myself in one once for a day (for reasons no where near as dramatic as those of Steve and Duke) and felt like and idiot. I never knew there was so much cool breeze.

    As a fellow Wood fan, you might check out review of Glen or Glenda when you have a moment you can waste. Have you ever seen it? I think it is Mr. Wood's masterpiece, standing head and shoulders above Plan 9 (which I love, too, of course).

    Great Post. -- Mykal

  2. Mykal, I think you'll like Wishman's work, she's got that paracinema thing down. Like the first nine minutes we just see Duke's (we haven't met him yet) feet and then some random shots of the suitcase that will be used to house the stolen money in a shop window. She does this a lot in her other movies as well. Also, she wasn't able to shoot sound in sync, so whenever a character is talking, she shoots the back of their head. It makes for some interesting viewing, to be sure.

    David Sedaris has a HI-larious essay in his collection Naked about the time when he visted a nudist colony. Definitely worth checking out. Maybe you should write your own essay about your experience? I can't say I've ever met anyone that has been to a nudist camp, until now :)

    I have seen Glen or Glenda - it is a fave, much like the rest of Wood's oeuvre. I think I might even have the book it was based on lying around here somewhere. Have you read much of Wood's fiction?

  3. Jenn: I own, but have not yet read, Killer in Drag. I have read Wood's Hollywood Rat Race, and loved it. Not only is it reasonably well written, it is just so touching to read Wood's memoir and advice to young folks wanting to break into the business. He really seemed like a sweet soul. I think Wood was a much more traditional and linear writer than he was a film-maker (and that's to the good for us movie fans).

    I've also read Rudolph Grey's Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr.. That was a pretty good bio. Damn, I see your a Wood Geek! Do check out my humble post on the man. It's my Wood tribute. Sorry for the self-promotion.

    With regard to my day at the nudist colony , suffice to say it is an experience I have no plans to repeat in this life or the next. That’s right – the next life, too. After that strange day (the reasons of which are for another time), I want to keep my clothes on in Heaven. I had no idea how safe and protected clothes make you feel in a social situation. Being naked really becomes the focus of the day. It's really hard to do anything, like play cards or chat over a drink; one just spends the day being very, very naked, outside, with an absolutely frozen smile and arms crossed. Well, I've probably said too much.

    Your description of the first nine minutes of Hideout has convinced me (sounds a great deal like the Beast of Yucca Flats school of film making). I'm going to pop on over to Amazon and get it. -- Mykal

  4. Yes! I have the Rudolph Grey book as well! It was a great first hand account, although sometimes contradictory, which is still interesting. Who'd have thought we'd be sitting here deconstructing Wood all these years later?

    A good starting place with Wishman would definitely be Hideout in the Sun - I think, even as a first film, it's quite accomplished. I can't say that for a lot of her other work however. You'll see that rampant camera get outta control in other films, but her nudist films are definitely what put her on the cinematic map and established her reputation.

    Happy watching!

  5. I had read an article on Wishman in Paracinema, and my interest was piqued....

    The "Serpentarium" sold me. I'm picking this up. Great article.

  6. Can we just all please take a field trip to a Serpentarium somewhere? I mean seriously. There has got to be one somewhere that is still operational. I want it to look just as it does in this film - all pastels, greens and pinks, palm trees everywhere, and giant fiberglass snakes. I don't think that is asking too much.

  7. I love that "if you watch one nudie cutie picture this year..." They should have used that on the original advertising, when there was a new one out every ten minutes.
    I've not seen this one, in fact I think I've only seen the British ones. I never saw Mr Teas or Lucky Pierre...
    Tell me this - what else is on this DVD to justify the second disc? A four hour making of documentary? Out-takes? Retrospective interviews with the original nudists???
    And Mykal - you do know who Doris Wishman is... Think back... Some pictures on Lolita's blog... Chesty Morgan...
    Has the full horror returned yet?

  8. Matthew: Oh, Lord! How could I forget that. It all comes rushing back. -- Mykal

  9. The second disc was quite disappointing. It was just basically the letterbox version of the film and an interview with Wishman's biographer, Mike Bowen, I believe his name is. It was a total waste, in my opinion. They coulda put the Bowen interview on the first disc, which houses a bunch of other interviews and commentaries, Dave Friedman being among them, and given the option for letterbox or full screen on that disc. Soooo.....yeah.

    I was all excited- I thought there was gonna be all this great extra stuff on the second disc and it was just the film again. Boo!

    And oh yes, the Chesty Morgan films. Double Agent 73. Deadly Weapons. Masterpieces, they are.

    Oh, and Mykal, we are sooooo going to Reptile World. Did you read the info? It was something about how the military started RW to get the venom from poisonous snakes in '72? WTF, RW?

  10. Jenn: I did read the info. I think RW was used by the military because there are just so few places in the world that can do this kind of work. Trust my swampy home state to be on the cutting edge of all venomous snake milking! It does sound pretty damn cool, and the billboard promises the correct aesthetics.

    It's about three hours or so from me in Florida. -- Mykal

  11. Here I come, Mykal, here I come. I'm gonna drive the 16 some hours to Florida and we're going to Reptile World! Woohoo!

  12. Jenn: Looking forward to it! -- Mykal