The two & a half minute peepshow film Georgia Sothern in Her Dance from the Musical "Star & Garter" (1940s) is introduced by a voice-over narrator calling it "one of the hottest & fastest numbers in the show."
It's fast because the film is speeded up, perhaps only to make it fit in into the brevity of peepshow film requirements, many of which were even shorter than this one.
But it was also speeded up from the misguided desire to convey the fact that Georgia was noted for lightning-speed on stage, just not this speedy.
In her heyday it was the speed of her hips moving from side to side. But in this film, apparently made late in her career, she's doing unappealing head bobbings.
As it's black & white footage you can't tell Georgia Sothern was a fiery redhead, which lent her billing as "The Tiger Girl," in addition to "The Human Dynamo" because of her reputation for speed-dancing. She had a national reputation in the 1930s & 1940s, & was even an activist advocating a higher degree of respect for her profession.
She once asked burlesque fan & critic H. L. Mencken, noted for coining new words, if he could come up with a term that sounded more respectful than "strip-tease," & he came up with the dubious "ecdysiast," which would mean "one who molts."
Georgia was pleased & billed herself for some while as an ecdysiast. Though it really wasn't one of Mencken's finer coinages, the shortlived Society of Ecdysiasts was nevertheless soon established, an attempt at a stripper's union.
So Georgia's not as obscure as most peepshow film performers, & is a significant contributor to burlesque history. She was not all that pretty but had a nice bod & enough dancing talent to not be pitiful.
But by speeding up her act beyond plausibility, it's turned into an unintentional parody. She looks like a rag doll being tossed about in a gale. She whips her head up & down so fast & so many times it looks like it's going to pop off.
She whirls about in a long flouncy dress, most of it scarsely looking burlesque, but only a dance that, if it could be slowed down, would only occasionally look ridiculous. Afer a minute, she begins peeling minimally, but never seriously strips.
The musical Star & Garter was real & featured Gypsy Rose Lee in its first production by Michael Todd with whom Gypsy had been in love. Georgia was just one of many girls in the initial production, & got to sing "Clap Your Hands."
A year later had a role in another Michael Todd production, written by Gypsy, The Naked Genius which had a film adaptation retitled Doll Face (1946) starring Vivian Blaine.
Georgia was the star in a revival of Star & Garter, produced in Jersey by James E. Straits Shows, & the peepshow film had to have been made after that. It was obviously made on a teeny-tiny stage totally apart from the musical.
Betty Howard, aka Betty Blue Eyes, aka "The Girl Who Has Everything," was active in burlesque in the 1950s. She appears in a five-minute peepshow film with a romantic garden setting, Moonlight Madness, dancing in a long nightgown to old-time raucous ragtime.
Bobbing her head now & then & tossing her arms about, she opens the nightgown to reveal her frilly under garments & shapely body, then drops the gown. Less than two minutes in, she's unhooked her bra & revealed her substantial pastied bust.
Some striptease artists didn't really dance but only pranced & wiggled. Betty is doing some actual dance choreography between pin-up poses & bust-wobbling & slipping out of gown, long gloves, bra, until dressed only in the g-string & pasties, the legal max in most states.
She's down to the minimum relatively quickly & spends the last two minutes dancing, playing with her hair, kneeling, prancing, head-bobbing, twirling, & generally carrying on with her pretty self. As peepshow home movies & adult arcade films go, this one's jam packed. For climax there's a tush close-up of shaking shimmering g-string fringe.
Dance of Desire (1940s) is a panoram peepshow film about two & a half minutes long.
An unnamed burly-q in long black gown & opera gloves is doing a slow bump & grind to exotica jazz.
The lower part of the gown slips off as the camera lens changes momentarily to the bee's eye multiple view. Off comes most of the costume, down to bikini, high heels, opera gloves.
This woman has a nice enought body, scrawnier than was the fashion for the era, short hair, a pleasant face attempting an ecstatic expression justifying the title Dance of Desire. She goes down on her knees for quite an unusual dance posture. Near the end the music speeds up & she dances more furiously.
It's a fairly standard film of its type, but the momentary use of special camera lens suggests at least an attempt to bring some cinematic artistry to the subject.
Adele Doleman, who is otherwise unknown, stars in a two & a half minute "nudie cutie" titled Malibu Mermaid (1950s). She's a beautiful blonde in bikini seated on beach, filmed in black & white, playing with her hair, squinting into the sun, laughing, pulling her bathing suit top up as it becomes a bit revealing & waves of the ocean get her soaking wet.
There are well photographed shots of her shapely legs, as well as considerable appreciation of her smile, & a couple nice close-ups of her feet for the foot-fetishists in the adult arcade or the home projection market of the '50s.
As I write this review in 2007, this film at Prelinger Archive alone has been downloaded nearly 30,000 times. Many films at the Archive are downloaded only a dozen times or not even once, so this is a popular little item, plus it's been posted at scads of other websites & at youtube as well.
It's interesting that people will see in a film of this kind whatever they need to see. One web server removed it for violation of terms of agreement -- the server does not allow pornography -- but it's the most innocent film imaginable. One commentator says it is a variation of the striptease in which the ocean waves remove a girl's clothing, which the ocean never does.
Another commentary says more accurately that it's a nice portrait of a perfect dreamed-of girl-next-door. Another commentator is not so inclined to see a nice girl & just calls her a "hot blonde babe" which seems not an unreasonable assessment. But a discription elsewhere nonsensically calls her "kinky & decadent," suggesting to me that such innocent nudie cutie films could be used by psychologists to assess the degree of viewers' misogyny.
Another website describes Malibu Mermaid as an "amateur" film, yet many of the producers of these panoram & home-market short-shorts worked out of Los Angeles & these producers always hired union photographers. To me, for all its minimalism & cheap produciton, it looks like professional photography.
It's no more risque than any good looking young woman might like to have of herself at the beach. The nudie-cutie genre was only occasionally this artfully filmed, & the idea that she's a mermaid sitting in the wave-struck rocks is genuinely developed as an interplay of woman & nature, despite that the point is to get her bathing suit wet.
It's such an innocent wee film really, despite that the waves try to snatch off her bikini top. It's hard to believe it was ever used as a stag film, though Adele certainly is horny-worthy as a pin-up girl in motion, shapely & strong looking.
An oddball panoram peepshow short, Fighten Femmes of France (1940s) opens with a burly-q in pin-up pose reading a fashion mag with her blouse open & her fetish-stockinged legs "relaxed" up the wall in a most unrelaxing pose. The camera tries to move in at an angle to show her ass, as slighty sleezy jazz plays on the soundtrack.
Despite that the spelling of the title could indicate English as a second language, there's no reason to suppose this has anything whatsoever to do with France, & the real inspiration is irving Klaw's Bettie Page fetish films.
A second babe enters the room in her panties, bra, & hose, & looks in a drawer beside the bed the first gal is lounging upon. After a perfunctory search for some specific garment that is missing from the drawers, the second gal leaps upon the first for a wrestling match, brunette vs blonde. The pretense is it's a catfight between roommates over borrowed clothes.
It's silly as all get-out but in the adult arcades of the era would surely have scored high in the woody factor for anyone who had a particular liking for busty babes wrastling in their underclothes.
The women themselves seem barely to be into it at first, it's just a dumb film they were hired to star in. it's easy to see in some burlesque films that the performers really love their work, but all too often in these fetish films of wrastling girls or bondage, it's juts a paying gig & the women look bored.
But momentarily they seem personally to find it all so absurd that they might as well camp it up. They fall head-first off the bed into the crack against the wall, & practically stand on their heads kicking their legs as if they're stuck. It's more a slapstick moment than a fetish act & though the cameraman might have thought of it & directed the action, I like the possibility that the women themselves thought it'd be good for a laugh.
An anonymous actress or striptease performer appears in the panoram soundie Hot Number (1940s), for the adult arcade market. Such films were rarely elaborately staged. This one was set up to look like a very small private room with bed, perhaps in a beach house since there's an anchor hanging on one wall.
This young woman does not appear to be so much a stripper as an actress, though who's to say. By a "hot" number the punning film has her enter the private room & wipe sweat from her forehead, conveying how she's overheated, an excuse to open her blouse for the camera.
She throws herself to the bed fanning herself with her hands. "Stormy Weather" plays on the soundtrack.
Finally the blouse comes off, then she unhooks the skirt, so is down to her panties & bra, which was generally as far as this sort of show ever went or the arcades would get raided & all their films swiped by the police, who rarely arrested anyone however since what they wanted was free stag films.
She lays on the bed again, writhing then fanning herself with a straw sun-hat. It closes with a nice leg shot.
Hot Number does what a few peepshow films did, create an illusion, however thin, of the girl being all alone & unaware of the presence of a peeping tom. And yet as is so often the case, the peeper in the peepshow does not really get to see much, but surely knew how little he was plunking down his quarter to see.
This one's another expression of innocent sexuality & if this was all guys expected of "adult" entertainment in the '40s & '50s, then guys in those days were such sweetie pies.
Indian Love (1940s) is a minute & a half panoram peepfilm. The best of these sorts of entertainers worked nightclubs for mixed audiences on real entertainment bills, but who we are seeing in Indian Love is not cross-over.
She's an aging burlesque performer who has stayed a little long in the trade. With lots of make-up & poor lighting performing live in some theater, she might not have shown her age, but film is revealing.
Possibly this faux "Indian" dance is something she was doing from a young age. A head band with a feather in front is all it takes to be an Indian. She begins on her knees rather like the Land-o-Lakes stereotype of the subservient "squaw" & slowly rises with not unpleasant but not particularly skill-requiring motion.
Her costume, other than the feather, is a bra & panties with a bit of bric-a-brac added to each. Most strippers of the era would've had something more quaintly costumy rather than practically straight out of the underwear drawer, & some spent hundreds or even thousands on their costumes.
This minimalimist "Indian" outfit, then, argues against her having been an aging pro, but just as possibly an amateur at burlesque. Housewives had a sufficient interest in burlesque that some strippers ran side-businesses teaching women how to perform for their husbands, so there was always an enormous pool of amateurs testing the waters of burlesque.
It's a silent film but you can tell by her traipsing motions that there's supposed to be a tomtom beat to enhance the alleged indianess. She does have a nice body but a kind of creepy grimacing smile. After almost a minute & a half of traipsing she takes off her bra.
The very curious panoram soundie Cabaret Act (1940s) has no information attached to it & I've not been able to track down who the entertainers are, the year filmed, or anything. Anyone who stumbles on this & knows please let me know.
It begins so conservatively with a bland couple seated singing a song together, the lyrics about going on a date & falling in love. They're not good looking either one of them; & their singing is Lawrence Welk Lite.
They take turns on the lines, boy first: "We'll get a taste of nightlife, to bring us good cheer/ Will you buy me wine that's so devine, cuz darling I hate beer/ There's a cafe so alluring, where we'll both love to dance/ In a cafe that's alluring, I'll fall sweet romance."
They get up & stroll onto a cabaret set, finish their song, & walk off. Left behind is a choras line of "Joseph/Josephines," dancers wearing long dresses on the right side, & tuxedos on the left.
After the gay freakshow dance is over, we cut back to the bland couple back on their original set finishing their lame song. It's clearly all done in jest but so pokerfaced, & surely the act really was being done somewhere in the '40s.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl