The Topless Story
Code Red // 1965 // 61 Minutes // Not Rated
Code Red // 1969 // 75 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker // October 5th, 2012
"It's a green light, Mr. Maxwell...that means you can go."
Modern Maturity meets Tiger Beat in The Babysitter, a skeevy tale of an early-May/very, very late-December romance!
George Maxwell (George E. Carey, Sextette) is a local prosecutor, but he's hardly the fire-and-brimstone type. Next to George, your standard insurance agent or high school physics teacher would seem incendiary.
Anyway, George's wife, Edith (Anne Bellamy, Cast Away), has just had some kind of miracle, post-menopause baby, and she's none too happy. Because she doesn't want lightning to strike twice, she's made sex off-limits, leaving the Maxwells to do nothing for the rest of their lives except play bridge and go to small dinner parties.
One night, the babysitting agency sends sexy little Candy (Patricia Wymer, The Young Graduates) to watch the infant while the Maxwells go to another hideously boring get-together. As soon as the coast is clear, she picks up the phone and invites all her swingin' friends over, turning the Maxwells' rec room into a kind of naked sock hop.
Now we know what kind of girl Candy is, and George is about to find out when he's tasked with driving the cutie home. After a double-entendre laced car ride with a quick stop for tacos, George finds himself thinking hard about The Babysitter -- and weirdly, she's thinking hard about him, too.
The Babysitter is a giddy and lurid piece of sexploitation from the tail end of the '60s. Like many exploitation films, particularly at the time, it seems to have more on its mind than simple smut; and like many exploitation film, particularly at the time, its ambitions remain out of reach.
While there might have been aspirations here -- a middle-American version of The Blue Angel, maybe? -- the film rarely rises above the level of a TV movie, save for the offhanded nudity. There's lots of mucking about with how George is feeling left out of his own life -- including an early scene juxtaposing his boredom at a sedate dinner party (where everyone has "drinkies") with Candy's wild shindig in his basement -- but it's all so hackneyed, it barely matters.
To spice things up -- and, I'm guessing, pad this out to feature length -- we get a needless subplot involving George's lesbian daughter, which offers some soft girl-on-girl kissing. There's also a fairly significant subplot concerning murderous bikers, which adds a bit of gore to the proceedings, plus an uncomfortable twist: It seems George is prosecuting the bad killer biker, and his girlfriend needs to find some way to blackmail George into throwing the case. Hmmm...lesbian daughter's tryst or the old man skinny dipping with the babysitter? Decisions, decisions...
What we never quite get is why dimwitted, free-spirited Candy is interested in the deafeningly dull Mr. Maxwell. He's not exactly a sexy older man; he's not exactly witty or exciting; to call his attempts at humor "dweebish" would be charitable, and he has all the presence of a brown lampshade. If you crossed Steve Douglas from My Three Sons with a head of cabbage, you'd have George Maxwell.
Carey and Wymer give off smoldering passion the way a pairing of Don Rickles and Khloe Kardashian would give off smoldering passion. Their erotic shenanigans aren't helped by George's fantasies that he's actually with his matronly drone of a wife, but at least when Wymer (YES!) and Carey (NO!) are naked, we don't have to listen to Candy's sing-song, monotonacious prattling about her life philosophy ("I want to have fun! I want to sing!").
How did Carey, who's about the last person you'd want to see doing softcore, and one of the last you'd expect to be pursued by a young hippie chick, get cast as this late-in-life-Lothario in a film that was originally rated X? Why, he wrote and produced The Babysitter...and, its so-similar-it-could-be-the-same-movie follow-up, Weekend with the Babysitter.
Moving on to The Topless Story, we get the bottomless pit of disappointment. The credits tease us with the promise of this being "Filmed in Eastman-colour," but this black-and-white, apparently Swiss-made, T'n'A tedium would need more than a few natural fleshtones to make it worthwhile.
We do get some nice (stock) footage of New York City circa 1962 as well as some acceptable travelogue stuff. There's a wisp of a story: a male fashion designer gets ticked off at a female magazine editor and flees New York. The editor and a friend follow him. Everywhere the designer goes, some woman or other strolls around with an exposed breast or two. He winds up at some sort of semi-nudist colony in Greece where everyone runs around in G-strings. Then they all wind up in Bangkok, which, ironically enough, also has a semi-nudist colony. And then Tokyo, where...
Well, you get the idea. The film runs about an hour, but it seems endless, with shot after shot of people snorkeling, splashing, and otherwise frolicking topless. It's a sad reminder of the lengths people had to go to see a little bosom in those dark days before Al Gore invented the Internet and put smut at your fingertips.
Code Red, with its super-cool releases of obscure films and discs that include terrific supplements, has gone to selling direct. This means ordering directly from their site or making a third-party purchase on Amazon. While the company seems to have been focusing most of its attention over the last year or so on its Maria's B-Movie Madness line of cult horror, of late it's been releasing some sleazy double features like this, which are from the Crown International catalogue.
While it's not a top Code Red release, it's still a decent package, particularly if you think of The Topless Story as a supplement rather than the bottom half of a double bill. Besides trailers, we get one of the weirdest extras I've ever seen: "Injustice to the Babysitter." Now, I thought this was going to be a short, cautionary, educational film about letting strangers into your home, or perhaps a collection of reviews from the original release. Instead, we get a text crawl that states:
"THE FOLLOWING BONUS ATTRACTION is a small scene for a job a lab did for THE BABYSITTER negatives."
"The lab took a simple project to create the new sound and picture masters and made it all convoluted by adding an unnecessary intermediate step."
"They charged Code Red for this needless extra work."
"We are showing this injustice on screen as a double fee was charged that we were unaware of until pay time."
This is followed by around half an hour's worth of black screen with time code and an audio track. I have no idea what it all means, except that CR is ticked off enough at the lab that they not only mention this on their Web site, they've also incorporated it into the disc (not unlike a similar circumstance with The Black Klansman).
Beyond this, the audio on the disc is pretty good, but not as good as the image. According to their site, Code Red "uncovered the lost 35mm negatives" for The Babysitter, and the transfer looks pretty terrific.
Good to see you again, Code Red, and thanks for the sleaze! While The
Topless Story is a banal nudie-cutie, The Babysitter has enough
rancid charm to give this set a recommend.
Review content copyright © 2012 Tom Becker; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice, The Topless Story
Perp Profile, The Topless Story
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 61 Minutes
Release Year: 1965
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Distinguishing Marks, The Topless Story
Scales of Justice, The Babysitter
Perp Profile, The Babysitter
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Release Year: 1969
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Distinguishing Marks, The Babysitter
* IMDb: The Babysitter
* IMDb: The Topless Story