This double bill of British sexploitation movies from Odeon features on of the genre’s defining moments along with a worthy historical document of the 1960’s London striptease scene.
While not the first British nudist film, Naked – As Nature Intended is the most important of the genre, raking in a fortune on initial release and helping cement the reputation of director George Harrison Marks, already notorious for more or less inventing the glamour business in the UK with his nudie photos, magazines and 8mm movies – all of which are considerably sexier than this movie.
Hamstrung by censorship rules that still restricted cinematic nudity to situations where it was ‘natural’ and non-sexual (i.e. nudist camps and beaches), Harrison Marks was forced to pad out his made-up-as-it-went-along story with lengthy travelogue footage of wholesome young girls doing wholesome things on a trip around Cornwall. These girls are regular Harrison Marks models, including his partner and muse Pamela Green – Britain’s Bettie Page – and eventually… finally… they find themselves on an isolated beach where they strip off and frolic in the sand, before making their way to famed nudist resort Spielplatz, where they hobnob with a bunch of elderly and saggy naturists, looking decidedly out-of-place next to the generally unattractive (and authentic) sun worshippers.
Rather predictably, Pamela Green outshines her fellow models in this film – her vivaciousness outshining the other models, who were clearly hired for their willingness to strip off rather than any acting ability. Her appearance during the opening titles, striding confidently topless across the beach towards the camera, is striking stuff, and most welcome, given that for the next half an hour or so, the film is rather like one of those tedious travelogue fillers that used to clog up cinemas as the ‘full supporting feature’. God knows how sexually frustrated audiences in 1961 put up with it – but I guess back then, people would sit through anything for a glimpse of nipple.
Naked – As Nature Intended is an important movie, and worth owning for that fact alone. Modern audiences might find it amusingly kitsch too.
Also very much of its time is Secrets of a Windmill Girl. Director Stanley long had filmed the final night of the legendary nudie revue club The Windmill in 1964, the once famous venue no longer able to cut it against a world of strip clubs. Realising that there wasn’t enough footage for a straight documentary, Long and producer Arnold Louis Miller concocted a ridiculous melodrama to wrap around the footage, with childhood friends Pat (Pauline Collins) and Linda (April Wilding) getting jobs as Windmill Girls. While things are good for a while, Pat soon becomes a victim of success, thinking herself above the show and hanging around with a sleazy old theatre producer, attending ‘wild’ parties and eventually finding herself reduced to the sleazier end of the strip scene.
This is all narrated in flat monotone by Wilding, intercut with extensive footage of the Windmill show – by now having moved on from the static nudes seen in Mrs Henderson Presents to teasing fan dances, terrible comedians and iffy musical numbers – staid stuff even in the mid-Sixties (though ironically still more daring than most modern burlesque).
Secrets of a Windmill Girl is part of a great British sexploitation tradition – grim-faced, moralising and ultimately depressing. I’m not sure why producers assumed that audiences attending sexy movies needed to be told that such behaviour would lead to a sticky end, but clearly they did.
Viewers of a certain age will be amused to see not only future TV star Collins, but also TV sitcom favourite Martin Jarvis making an early appearance. Collins, it must be said, is better than the film deserves – she’s an effectively saucy little minx for much of the film, and her decline into delusional, angry, dead-eyed stripper is delivered with a worrying sense of conviction.
Backed up with several Brit sleaze movie trailers, this is another splendid pairing, essential for connoisseurs of British sleaze and adventurous movie viewers everywhere.