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VINTAGE EXPOITATION FILMS-DISCUSSION


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*Dear readers,*

 

*I have launched a thread on "Your Favorites" entitled "Vintage Exploitation Films", where I have begun posting film links from 1933-1941:*

 

*http://forums.tcm.com/thread.jspa?threadID=161844&tstart=0&messageID=8564972#8564972*

 

*I welcome discussion here, as they are unique films and should elicit considerable interest and feedback. I kindly ask that we keep that other thread as a handy video gallery, and that any comments be posted to this thread. I like the clean look of that thread with only film links, which makes them easier to find and view. I do plan to add quite a few more. The source material becomes plentiful after 1940 vintage, and once posted should offer our community a great viewing resource that I hope will last for years to come.*

 

*I appreciate your interest and look forward to your discussions!*

 

*Thanks!*

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Would Freaks count as an exploitation film? Besides obscure stag films it's the only one I could think of before the age of Roger Corman. Did the conjoined Hilton sisters, (not those Hilton sisters)

were in another movie beside Freaks, (I think they were in that movie.) Did Chang and Eng make a movie or did the die before the age of cinema?

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I think it is going to be too difficult to find the list of films on one thread in a different forum, and then find this thread in this forum to discuss them.

 

But I will go along with it as long as I can continue to find both threads.

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Dear Fred and Scottman!

 

I thank you for your contributions! I might have gotten to those eventually, but you have saved me the effort on those films. Any relevant film links that you or others could provide there would enrich the filmography and the readers who are interested in the subject.

 

 

Fred, I realise that this is an unorthodox approach around here. My experience with *Prince Saliano's* *Bela Lugosi for SOTM* caused me to go this route. On that thread I have furnished links to *39* of Lugosi's films, with acess to a few more! The links were buried under a lot of subsequent comment, making them hard to find.

 

The other concern I had was that putting the film links on a *General Dicussion* thread leads to rapid fading into the back pages around here. A thread posted to *Your Favorites* can stay on page one for weeks on end, while here discussions retreat into the backpages after a day or two, unless continously added to. Where links to dozens of films are provided, it becomes a "*filmography*", and hence a reference resource for researchers and those with an in depth interest in the subject. The subject becomes better served if we can easily get to, as well as review that filmography. I can easily see us posting links to 40 + films on the other thread. The exploitation genre was extensive, with a lot resource material available.

 

Keeping an extensive filmography seperate, where it can more easily be seen and reviewed, thus makes sense to me. Hotlinking to a discussion thread also does. Those who go to the *Your Favorites* site will easily be able to jump to this thread anytime, even if it winds up on page 30. (Thus making it unecessary to "find it".)

 

If anything, I am inclined to recreate the *Lugosi filmography* with it's seperate thread on *Your Favorites,* and hotlink to the discussion thread mentioned above.

 

*As a practical concession to your concern, I will renew and repost the hyperlink connection between the two threads on every posting page, for easier reader navigation. The resultant "hassle" should hopefully be less than trying to find film links buried under pages of comment, on a thread that may retreat rapidly.*

 

This subject is most interesting! The *Motion Picture Code* was not legal legislation, but a self imposed industry standard. It is fascinating to see film work whose creators cared not a whit for it, their only "restraint" being what ever they could run by a local town or city council! They lived day by day, ready to "leave dodge" at the drop of a hat, with the film in a carrying case! For them, "success" meant being able to operate for one more day without being run out of town or into jail!

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>My experience with Prince Saliano's Bela Lugosi for SOTM caused me to go this route. On that thread I have furnished links to 39 of Lugosi's films, with acess to a few more! The links were buried under a lot of subsequent comment, making them hard to find.

 

The same thing happened to my "How to post a photo" thread. People started using my thread to post test photos, large ones, and that drove my instructions down out of sight.

 

One way to get around that is to copy all your links and post them in a new post up at the top of a thread. You might have to do that several times. What I often do is get all my links together in a Word document so I can find all of them and copy all of them at one time.

 

But we'll see how this goes.

 

Anyway, thanks for all your links.

 

A couple of years ago I saw the film on YouTube about eugenics, and that was very interesting. Several state government agencies actually did such things to people in the 1930s, and they would have continued doing it if it had not been for what the Nazis did.

 

The Nazis using "negative" eugenics taught everyone about how dangerous such a thing is, especially in the hands of government agencies.

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Thanks again Fred, I always welcome your feedback!

 

At one time, copying and pasting out of *Word* was no problem around here. Nowadays, I notice that when I do that, it posts with a lot of text formatting computer goobledygook, necessitating an edit, sometimes multiple edits, before I am able to "clean up" the appreance of the end result. Anything copied and pasted from the web is already in *java script*, which is what this meassage board shell best responds to. If you have any technical suggestions for clean, easy copy and paste out of *Word*, it would be most appreciated, as it sure would make life for me simpler!

 

Another issue I have is that the *Bold* function sometimes works and outputs properly, sometimes not. As to the difficulties involved with outputting *colored font*, I don't even want to go there.

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I use Plain Text because of all the trouble I've had with Rich Text.

 

I tried to post the title of "PLAYMATES" in blue on the other thread, and when I did, the link didn't show up. So I went back to plain text for my Word copy and paste.

 

The only problem I have with Plain Text and copy and paste from Word is that the apostrophes and quote marks show up like this. Test?s, and ?test?, if I forget to type in a special code in my Word document.

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The links to the famed *Reefer Madness* are most interesting! The colorised version has that surreal impression that I get and enjoy with *early two strip technicolor*. Having seen the movie in black and white before, I noticed that color helped differentiate and accentuate background details better. Whether the "right" colors were used by the digitisers or not, is also part of the fun. I know some people don't like the concept and feel very strongly about it. For this cheapie exploitation film, I sure don't mind.

 

Very interesting is the story of one of it's principal players, *Thelma White*, who played "*Mae",* co-operator of the dope den with the famed "*Jack",* played by *Carleton Young. ("I've got to see Jack!")*. I always wondered what became of her. One youtube poster found some later footage of her in a short where we find out that she became the leader of a twelve woman big band swing outfit called "*Thelma White and Her All Girl Orchestra- Hollywood Boogie!* (link furnished in filmography) What stikes me is how good and hot their music was, along with Thelma and her women. There was quite a market for all women units during the war. (That also included baseball).

 

The youtube poster found quite a bit of background on her:

 

*"One of the lesser known all girl orchestra's and the leader is Thelma White, this I would thing dates from the 1940's.*

 

*Thelma White (December 4, 1910 -- January 11, 2005) was an American radio and film actress. White is best known for her role in the 1936 exploitation film Reefer Madness.*

 

*Born Thelma Wolpa in Lincoln, Nebraska, White debuted in her family's circus show at age 2, acting as a "living doll" who would stand in place until she got a cue to begin cooing and wriggling. At the age of 10 she was dancing in vaudeville as part of The White Sisters, leading to jobs with the Ziegfeld Follies and Earl Carroll revue before she moved to Hollywood in the late 1920s. Her first film was A Night in a Dormitory (1930) co-starring Ginger Rogers. That job led to a number of short films at Pathé Studios (later RKO Pictures), where she played leading lady to some of the most familiar comic faces of the day, such as Edgar Kennedy and Leon Errol.*

 

*White's most famous role arrived in Tell Your Children (1936) better known today as Reefer Madness, a low-budget exploitation film to warn audiences of the dangers of marijuana. White appeared as Mae, the tough mistress of dope-dealer Jack (Carleton Young). Jack encourages high school students to take a toke of marijuana, after which they become involved in rape, prostitution, suicide, and various other traumas. The film was a flop and vanished into the vaults for over 30 years.*

 

 

 

 

 

 

*White continued to struggle through B-movies and small roles for the next few years, and in Hollywood circles was more known for her private life than any on-camera abilities. She was married three times, first to radio star Claude Stroud (one of the Stroud twins) for five years, then a brief marriage to Max Hoffman, Jr. Her final marriage, to actor and costume designer Tony Millard, lasted for several decades.*

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Tell Your Children was found in a vault in 1972 and rechristened Reefer Madness by pro-marijuana activists and a young movie distributor who saw the movie as having great comedic appeal. The film gained a following on college campuses for its campy nature as well as its crazed depiction of marijuana use. White, who had starred with W. C. Fields and Jack Benny in her best years, was somewhat chagrined to be known for such a film. In 1987, she told the Los Angeles Times, "I'm ashamed to say that it's the only one of my films that's become a classic."*

 

 

 

 

 

 

*During World War II, White joined United Servicemen Overseas, a government program which featured entertainment for troops serving overseas. She went to Alaska on several occasions with Rose Hobart and Carmen Miranda. She continued to make appearances in B-movies such as* *The Bowery Boys film series, but near the end of the war contracted a crippling disease while appearing in the Aleutian Islands. White was bedridden for five years and told she would never walk again. Although she did partially recover and appeared in a few late 40's films, her acting career was essentially over.*

 

*White later worked as an agent, representing such actors as Robert Blake and James Coburn.*

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another "alumnus" of the *Reefer Madness* cast was *David O'Brien (Ralph),* who distinguished himself for all posterity and for pop culture superstardom with his campy portrayal of a hophead gone insane. (Who could forget his laugh?) Never again would poor Dave reach the "heights" of such cinema prominence in his subsequent work. People like *White, Young and O'brien* floated at the fringes of the business like so many other people hoping to get a bigger break, which seldom if ever came. Appearing in an independently produced movie that dealt with fringe and sensational subject matter, may not have been much of a career helper.

 

Edited by: ThelmaTodd on Sep 25, 2011 4:23 PM

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Dear Thelma Todd ...

 

 

What an Awesome job you are doning on your project, 'Vintage Exploitation Films'. You've succeeded in providing a well informed and clean cut thread, complete with information of the movies and 'Attachments' for easy access for anyone to easily view each films with just one click. How Great is that ?

 

 

I just wanted to 'mirror' everyone's compliments here on your knowledge, not only on your 'project' but on so many of the other topics you've covered so far on these threads, such as the topic of the 'Stooges', for one. Kudos !

 

 

What a Brilliant Mind ! ... I know the Readers here are benefitting from your vast storage of knowledge & information and have 'piqued' our interests on so many subjects. You never seem to tire ...

 

 

Keep up the great work.

Regards,

Ugaarte

 

 

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Hello sfpcc1,

 

If *Freaks (1932)* were made by an independent, it would certainly be called an "exploitation" film. The fact that it was made by the most major of majors, *MGM*, made it a film with an exploitation theme, but "mainstreamed" by a big studio. For *Loius B. Mayer*, this feature was a quite "walk on the wildside", something that he was seldom inclined to do. It didn't totally "fit" what was then trendy among the majors, unless you like to think that it's part of the famed "horror cycle", using deformed people to replace "Frankenstein". Perhaps it was. To try and outdo *Universal* in the synthesising of monsters probably wasn't Mayer's cup of tea.

 

I certainly consider it enough of an exploitation type film to warrant inclusion in our filmography. However checking youtube, I was unable to find the complete film. At present, I am disinclined to offer just 2 or 3 minute clips, preferring to present complete features whenever possible.

 

Should *Freaks* come up whole, I'll post it!

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In *How To Undress For Your Husband (1937)*, I notice that the "star" of that short was an "*Elaine Barrie Barrymore"!* That was none other than *John Barrymore's* young wife! They married about a year earlier, in what was a highly publicised wedding. There was a 30 year age difference. They divorced in 1940.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've read her autobigraphy, *All My Sins Remembered*. (Great title). In it I got the impression of a young love and starstruck woman who was taken in with the larger than life mystique of the Barrymore clan, only to discover that life with these people was a bit different offscreen than on. She wasn't really accepted by Ethel and Lionel, and as for John, well he had his "issues"!

 

I can't imagine why she appeared in something like this, as she wanted to break into films, and appearing in such a short was a virtual career killer. I also wonder if the bedroom this was filmed in was, well, the bedroom the Great One slept in! I have to wonder what "Big John" thought of his wife appearing in this.

 

Getting her to appear in this short was a coup de grace for *Dwain Esper*, and had to be the equivalent of handing him a huge welfare check. Somebody had to have made money.

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Many of these film, maybe most of them, contain no MPPDA logo at the beginning. This means they are "no code" films, independently made and distributed, often to small independent theaters. I'm pretty sure the big theater chains and especially the ones that owned the studios, could not show these films.

 

MPPDA2b.jpg

 

Also keep in mind that, generally, the major theater chains owned the big studios, not the other way around. This is why the top "money men" of the studios were in New York.

 

In the 1925 MGM 20-minute silent short about the studio, they show a telegraph set-up with a direct wire to New York.

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Hi Fred!

 

 

These operators were such opportunist/bottom feeders! Their number one concern was not getting busted and second, being able to leave town with their film and box office earnings! The Supreme Court obscenity/free speech rulings were decades in the future. Exibition of this material was a very grey area of the law. That there was a lot of money in it goes without saying, as the subject matter had salacious interest.

 

They got what venues they could hustle up, even private clubs. In the book by *Eric Schaefer,* he describes a women's club in the 30's that staged a disturbance/riot when their sex movie failed to show up!

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Five more titles have been just added to the filmography at

 

http://forums.tcm.com/thread.jspa?threadID=161844&start=15&tstart=0

 

*Freaks (1932)*

*Expose Of the Nudist Racket (1938)*

*Confessions Of A Vice Baron (1942)*

*Test Tube Babies (1948)*

*She Should Have Said No! (1949) an anti marijuana film*

 

In some cases I have to find things outside of youtube, which for my money is still the best video hosting website around. Some of the other video servers can be so very very dodgy and user unfriendly. I flat out refuse to deal with those that require you to download software in order to watch a film.

 

As it stands, there are already *25 film links* posted there! Thanks to Fred Dobbs and Scottman for their contributions.

 

(Hi Scottman, Sorry I have mistakenly overlooked the duplication. I was copying from a word document that had stored links and overlooked it. It promises to be a very interesting film!)

 

Also, I initally posted the wrong link to the *Dwain Esper* documentary, and have corrected that. *Esper's* life could make an interesting subject for a feature film!

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Dear Ascot!

 

You and ugaarte as most kind for your encouraging words and I thank you both!

 

I have a bit of the "showman" in me as well, the way that I like to present films for this community! For me, the "box office" for my efforts will be the hit count, and I hope there will be a lot of traffic in that filmography thread! Just some of the titles to those flicks invite a prurient curiosity. (The intention of the original filmakers!)

 

*There are some really awesome and knowledgable people on these boards, as well as an interested readership that may never post here. Knowing what great company I am in, encourages me to make my best efforts!*

 

 

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Hello again Ascot,

 

I saw your comment about *Esper!* You say he was loud; possibly "gregarious"? I wouldn't be surprised, considering that peddling his films took a lot of drive and multi-vitamin spunk. For a guy like him, audiences happened, provided he could get venues as well as show his movies unmolested by the authorities. Check out the biography film I provided on him (first film link), and see if that's him you saw. It's not a terribly common surname.

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Hi FredCDobbs ...

 

 

Just had to let you know how much I enjoyed your clip, "The Playmates', especially the 'SONG' . . .

We use to Sing this Song in Grade School (but without the swingin' and slidin' : ) . . . and even now, I'll sing it every now and then and sometimes sing it to my friends when I call them to go out to Catch a Movie, Grab something to Eat or just out for a Cup of Coffee . . .

 

 

... and if they call me, I'll tell them, "my dolly's got the flu' ... if I'm under the weather ...

 

 

And now to see an actual clip of it, brings back all kinds of memories. The only drawback is that I'd forgotten a lot of the Lyrics ... but now this 'clip' helps to provide a lot of what I've been missiing ...

 

 

One more thing, can anyone tell me the NAME of the dance that the guy does around the 'Maypole' ? . . . I've seen the same Dance done by Curly in "Swinging the Alphabet' and in 'Reefer Madness' done by the kids in the Soda Shop . . . they clasp their hands together and 'slide' sideways in a circle ? ... It seems to have been a popular 'Move' back then, like the 'Charleston' . . .

 

 

Regards,

Ugaarte

 

 

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Whoaaaa . . .

 

That was some Awesome, Jivin', 'Razz-Matazz' of *"Playmates*" done by Sandy Stewart . . . even the conductor, along with the singers & musicians were really "Bee-bopin' and 'scatin' (as George Constanza/Seinfeld would say) ...

 

" ... *look down my Rain Barrel, Slide down my Cellar door and we'll be Jolly, Jolly Friends for Ever more* ... "

These are some of the Lyrics I had forgotten ...

 

 

 

Thanks again FredCDobbs,

Regards,

Ugaarte

 

Edited by: ugaarte on Sep 27, 2011 6:23 PM

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Hi Fred!

 

I looked at and enjoyed your submissions on the filmography thread!

 

http://forums.tcm.com/thread.jspa?threadID=161844&tstart=0

 

*ESCORT GIRL (1941)* features a "soundie machine" in the "Club Martinique", depicted about 14 minutes into the film. It appears to have been about a 25" screen size, and such machines used coin activated film projection to run shorts about 3 minutes in length. They were commonly placed in bars and often had cheesy films, like *Playmates (1944).* A great many blues and jazz greats of the period, like *Cab Calloway, Louis Jordan etc.* appeared in soundies, and today those are considered an invaluable record by music fans and historians. These machines had to have created headaches, as the film might have snagged and broken. I bet bars were glad to get rid of them once TV became common. It would be a few years before TV screens could match the screen size of the soundie machines.

 

The nice thing about youtube, is that it is an endless interconnected labyrinth of related films. Once *Playmates* ends, you see links to many other soundies! They are worth checking out!

 

The escort bureau charged "$10 a day, plus transportation and expenses", hiring both men and women. (The ten dollars 1941 comes to about $154 today, see my "*Money in the old movies*" thread) It would turn out to be an expensive good time for both men and women clients, once the champagne and other things were added on.

 

That this was a prostitution front is constantly implied in the film. The escort service was owned and run by a couple that used it to feed into a nightclub and hotel that they also owned. All the clients had to do, was "go upstairs". The manager tells the boss that some prospect wanted to know if "we're "flexible". Flexible; great euphenism!

 

Thanks for your submissions! It is so much fun looking at the material we've lined up. It gives a glimpse into the time and culture!

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Hello Scottman,

 

 

 

 

 

 

I took a look at the anti-marijuana film, *SHE SHOULD HAVE SAID NO! (1949).*

 

It is an interesting contrast to the "reefer trilogy" from the 30's (All provided on the filmography thread in *Your Favorites*). The 1949 film, despite having been produced by an independent, looks more like a mainstream produced "B" feature from the era, and even has a touted "all-Hollywood cast" that features *Lyle Talbot.* It looks "noire-ish" in parts, and has more camera and technical tricks going for it than it's more cheaply produced cousins from the previous decade. The "camp" factor is a bit less, although I would love to see the effect of this picture on a live audience! The film resorts to using "thurman" music at times- a tremulant sounding one string electric intstrument used to create a "creepy" atmosphere. (It was used as background music to Gort the robot in "*The Day the Earth Stood Still*")

 

 

 

The film does perpetuate the myth of the drug causing terminal insanity.

 

Funny is the part where a piano player's performance becomes deteriorated. After too much, he starts to play "choptsticks" and imagines himself performing a concert piece! The anecdotal experiences of musicians, going back to the pioneering giants of jazz and blues, does not bear this out. On the contrary.

 

Another interesting point in this film (and many other old films) is that cops didn't always bother to put cuffs on suspects, like they so routinely do today. Why do you suppose that was? It was because police would use deadly force against anyone fleeing them! Police didn't go running and climbing chain link fences in pursuit of people like they do today on "*COPS*"! Flee and they pulled their service revolver! This applied double to anyone fleeing and evading in a vehicle- they would fill such cars full of bullets, even in crowded areas! The idea that they should shoot only in self defense came much later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The stuff was also known as "tea", and according to this film "tomatoes"! The "sticks" were concealed for wholesale shipment in pint sized tomato cans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are interesting money references in the movie. The "sticks" were sold 3 for $5. $5 (1949)= $47.59 (2011), with each coming to $15.86 in today's money. Not cheap entertainment, but doable for those that really wanted it. They were individually offered at $2, ($19.04 today)

 

The stage dancer putting her brother through college at $60-75/week, was earning the equivalent of $571- $714/week in today's money. That she could put her brother through college on this is made most plausible by the fact that *Yale* cost $450 a year in the 1940's!

 

The stuff was wholesaled in cases at $25 a tomato can to the retail dealer ($237 today). As "bait" to the syndicate, and undercover cop entices them with $75,000, about $713,902 today.

 

I obtain these multipliers from a website (with calculator) on the Your Favorites thread called "*Money in* *the old movies*". (See my original post):

 

http://forums.tcm.com/thread.jspa?threadID=161743&start=15&tstart=0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, the actress at the end keeps talking to the camera, even though what she says is dubbed over with the closing music. Those of you adept at *lip reading* might want to check it out, to see if in fact some practical joke is being played on the viewer!

 

Edited by: ThelmaTodd on Sep 29, 2011 3:14 PM

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