Woody Allen once said that sex was the most fun he'd ever had without laughing. But laughing and sex are not mutually exclusive. Horniness brings on undignified behaviour, and it is all the more fun if we are in on the joke. This blog is a celebration of the funny side of sex and the sexy side of humour. As an author of erotic stories I like to show that sex is more fun when it is playful and silly.

You can find my humorous erotic ebooks on I-Tunes, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. They are always free!!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Flicks with Chicks : The Adventures of Lucky Pierre (1961)

The Adventures of Lucky Pierre was the film that kicked off David F. Friedman's success as a producer. For many years he'd been in the film distribution business, and a year before making this film he'd teamed up with director Herschell Gordon Lewis for a black and white drama called Living Venus (1960) about a man who starts a men's magazine (inspired by the story of Hugh Heffner). But it was not until ex-burlesque dancer Rose La Rose suggested that he shoot some colour equivalents to the black and white nudie shorts that were popular with customers at the strip joint she ran in Toledo, that Friedman came up with the idea of a colour nudie comedy which would consist of a series of short sketches with a baggy pants style comic as a connecting character and each section featuring different young women shedding their clothes. This was not a new idea. Russ Meyer had done the same thing a couple of years earlier with The Immoral Mr. Teas (1959), but for Friedman and Lewis it turned out to be a ticket to success.

First they had to come up with a title. From their school days they remembered a series of dirty jokes about a fortunate Frenchman named Lucky Pierre who always found himself in sexy situations. (In the movie the character only speaks in the first episode, and he is not French.) It took them all of six hours to write a script. As Friedman said at the time, "This isn't Gone with the Wind..."

The next task was to find six attractive young women who were prepared to bare all on the silver screen. A much harder task in 1961 than it would be today. First Friedman made the rounds of the strip joints, but didn't manage to find the fresh flowers he sought. “They looked good in the stills,” he said. “In person they looked like they’d come from a chorus of fifty - some where younger, but most where fifty.” Eventually he managed to find a very pretty girl in her twenties by the name of Linda Cotton. She was from the Deep South and had a horrible accent, but that was O.K. It wouldn’t be a speaking part.

Next they found their star in funny-looking club comic Billy Falbo, who had played a small role in Living Venus. He might have been a bottom-of-the-barrel comic purveying prehistoric gags at Elks conventions, but he wasn't going to sell himself short. "You guys'll have to deal with my agent," he told them. "I'll tell you now, I don't come cheap. Especially for moom pictures." After some hard bargaining they got him for $500 for four days. "If you go another day, it's another hundred and fifty," the agent warned. "If I go over four days, I'm broke," Friedman assured him.

Our Hero
While on a sales trip to Minneapolis, Friedman was lucky enough to discover a model agency which had about fifty good-looking young women on its books who would work nude. After spending an afternoon over the onerous task of surveying what eight of them had to offer, he selected two blondes, both with the surname Olsen, though no relations. When he arrived back in Chicago he found that Lewis had hired another three girls. He was happy that the casting of the females was complete, but less so that the women his partner had selected looked like they could have been the Olsen girls' moms.

Also in the cast was Bill Kerwin, playing an angry husband. Kerwin appeared in many Lewis/Friedman productions, including Blood Feast and Two Thousand Maniacs! He had a long career in both television and exploitation movies.

Bill Kerwin
Cast and crew expenditures on the film totalled $2,450. Lewis did the camerawork and Friedman the sound recording. They were the entire crew. Lewis composed the score and wrote the title song. The soundtrack was played by two musicians, Lewis himself on organ and his friend Larry Wellington on drums, xylophone and saxophone. Friedman was the recording engineer. The total cost of the production came to $7,138.46 which meant there was enough left of the $7,500 invested to pay for posters, pressbooks and trailers.

Friedman made a deal with the owner of the Fox Theatre in Minneapolis, an ex-burlesque joint turned movie house, that he could have the world premiere of The Adventures of Lucky Pierre, as long as Friedman and his partner's got an unheard of 35% of the gross. In the first week, the gross was $12,000. In the three weeks the film played in that one cinema, they almost recouped their original investment.

To those born after it was made, The Adventures of Lucky Pierre must seem like an artefact of some long  dead civilisation. I was born a year after it was unleashed upon the world, and that was, as far as I remember it, a very different world from the one we live in now. This was a time when sexy movies had no sex in them. When nudity alone threatened the very foundations of western civilisation. In the years that followed, these movies would get weirder and weirder. We had Nude on the Moon (1961) in which astronauts discover a "nudist colony" on the moon populated by telepathic men and women wearing gold lamé briefs and Naked Complex (1963) in which a psychiatrist tries to cure the hero's fear of women by taking him to see a snake dancer at a seedy nightclub. It's not just the gorgeous (and sometimes not so gorgeous) naked women that make these films fun to watch, it is also the fact that they are batshit crazy.

Which leads us nicely to the film's pre-title sequence. The only one with spoken dialogue. Pierre is a cigar-smoking psychiatrist and his woman patient is complaining that she feels as if people are staring at her everywhere she goes. All we can see is her high heals and Pierre is lost in a game of noughts and crosses. "Why should people be staring at you?" he asks. "The whole idea is ridiculous!" You don't exactly have to be M. Night Shyamalan to guess that, when she stands up, she is wearing nothing but those shoes.

Pardon My Pigments is the title of the next sequence which finds three nude models posing for painter Pierre in an field. When they finally get a look at his painting - an abstract - they break it over his head.

The Plumber's Friend finds Pierre at work mending the pipes in a couple's bathroom. Neither he, nor the husband, seem to notice when the wife comes in and takes a bath, even though, at one point, she hands Pierre a wrench. As she slowly towels off her luscious nude body, Pierre just sits their playing with his tool. Errr, so to speak. But once she is dressed again, they both see each other, she runs and fetches her husband and Pierre is forced to demonstrate the work he has been doing, of course ending up being sprayed by the shower.

In For the Birds Pierre is a amateur ornithologist who ends up watching birds of a different kind with his binoculars. On his lunch break out in the woods he spots two women who are in the mood for a bit of sunbathing. One, a stacked redhead in purple capri pants, he takes a fancy to. The other, an older brunette, he doesn't. Unluckily for him, it is the brunette who strips completely nude, while the redhead just fiddles with her top. His time up, Pierre walks off in disgust, at which moment the redhead finally bares her breasts.

Next we find Pierre as The Photographer's Apprentice. Much like Mickey Mouse in Fantasia, Pierre decides to play while the master is away. He's just sweeping up the studio when models start to arrive. He pretends to be the photographer and gets them to strip off, but, when he photographs them, they disappear.

Friedman and Lewis really outdid themselves with the film's closing segment - Drive-In Me Crazy - which was also the most challenging to film, as they were shooting nude girls in a real drive-in during the day time.

Pierre drives 124 miles to a drive-in which is playing a double feature of I Was a Teenage Nudist and 10 Days in a Nudist Camp, plus 65 cartoons! When he drives in he finds that the girl in the ticket booth is naked, as are the other girls who serve him popcorn. Up first is the short subject Picnic at the Playground - "In Glorious Black & White on Our New NARROW SCREEN". It turns out the stars of the film are the same girls who work in the drive-in. They lay down a picnic blanket, strip off all of their clothes and start playing with a football shaped beach ball. At one stage they throw the ball off of the screen. It lands in Pierre's lap in his car. One of the girls waves to him to throw it back, so he does, and she catches it. Then the girl's climb on the monkey bars. "Want to See These Beauties in Color?" asks the screen. For a few moments we see the lovelies smiling, waving their hands around and shaking their boobies in full glorious colour. And then another message comes up - "That's All - You Only Paid to See Black & White!" Back to black and white as they continue to play on the play equipment. Finally, just as the sign announcing the main attraction comes up, a truck parks in front of Pierre obscuring his view of the screen. When it moves away, the show is over.

 The drive-in sequence is actually surprisingly imaginative. It would be 24 more years before Woody Allen would have characters in a movie theatre interacting with those on screen in The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985). Of course Buster Keaton had stepped into the movie screen in Sherlock Jr. (1924) and Daffy Duck had had his onscreen life totally screwed up by the mystery animator in Chuck Jones' classic cartoon Duck Amuck (1953). But in 1961 it was still very "meta" to have an interactive drive-in screen.

Throughout the movie, Pierre has been throwing a pair of dice and coming up with snake eyes. In a brief epilogue he is walking dejectedly past a forest. Nude girls look out from behind the trees. He decides to give the dice one more try. And he throws a seven! Joyously he runs off into the woods to join the frolicking naked girls. Isn't there a lesson there for all of us?

I think the philosophy of the nudie cutie is that the sight of nude girls will reduce the intelligence of male audience members sufficiently to render the corny jokes actually funny. I don't know about anyone else, but it works for me.

One last strange footnote on The Adventures of Lucky Pierre is that it inspired an actual work of literature, a novel of the same name by Robert Coover, which apparently deals with the misadventures of a porn star who wanders around a city called Cinecity with his cock hanging out of his pants. While it was, supposedly, inspired by the film, it would appear to be very different in tone, judging by the fact that one critic said it had too many torture scenes in it. Then again, perhaps watching The Adventures of Lucky Pierre might be considered torture to those who don't like bad movies.

Much of the information on the making of The Adventures of Lucky Pierre comes from David F. Friedman's wonderful autobiography A Youth in Babylon : Confessions of a Trash-Film King.

The film can be purchased on DVD-R or download from Something Weird Video.

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