In 1959, after the unexpected death of her husband, Doris Wishman decided to begin making films. With a background in distribution, she became aware of the genre of "nudist camp" films through an acquaintance with Walter Bibo, producer of Garden of Eden (1954), a groundbreaking film in the field. Despite not having any sort of formal training in film (quite difficult for a woman to obtain at this time), she borrowed $20,000 from her family and made Hideout in the Sun (1960), one of the earliest nudist camp films. Over the next eighteen years, she made twenty-three more films, thus qualifying her as probably the most prolific female director of the sound era. She even staged a comeback in the early part of the twenty-first century, creating three more films before her death on August 10, 2002, at the age of 82.
[...] This meeting place also provides a space for analysis of Doris Wishman's films, as evidenced by Michael Bowen's article, “Doris Wishman Meets the Avant-Garde.” However, Wishman only began to develop the style that analysts associate with the avant-garde in the mid 1960s. Up until that point, she was still a young filmmaker churning out “nudies.” From 1959 until the mid 1960s, a new wave of filmmakers pioneered a new direction in exploitation film: the nudie. Russ Meyer's The Immoral Mr. [...]
[...] At the same time, numerous filmmakers, including Hershcell Gordon Lewis, began making films with lighthearted and fun plots centered on showing bare female flesh, also know as “nudie-cuties.” Doris Wishman made eight nudies between 1960 and 1965, making her, according to several historians, the most prolific of the nudie filmmakers. Her films during this period most closely represent the change in tides from nudist camp films to nudie-cuties. Although these categories can be arbitrary some times, the difference in Wishman's work exists within her incorporation of the nudist ethos into genre films. [...]
[...] After a narrated flashback from Bert (the pimp, played by Sam Stewart) another new Wishman trademark the love story goes completely downhill: Bob gets sick, Ann decides to become a prostitute to pay the bills, Tess gets beaten by Bert and some of her customers, she gets pregnant, her boyfriend gets “manhandled” by twin prostitutes notable role reversal for a film from 1965), Bob gets better and discovers his wife's new profession, and it continues to get worse. The film ends on the lowest note possible. [...]
[...] Wishman used Diary of a Nudist and her other nudies as romantic platforms for basic concepts of love and freedom. Looking back on her career, these films provide direct contrast to the period she entered next. In the mid 1960s, most of the exploitation filmmakers felt the nudies were losing their freshness and appeal, and the box office tallies seemed to reflect this notion. Russ Meyer, David Friedman, and others began to produce what became known as “roughies.” In “Doris Wishman Meets the Avant- Garde,” Michael Bowen describes this genre: “Distinguished by its lurid subject matter particularly emphasising illicit and sado-masochistic sexuality as well as by its stark, minimalist production values black and white, hand-held cinematography and gritty urban settings the roughie substituted a violent eroticism for the naive exhibitionism and colourful locations of the upbeat nudist romance” (114). [...]
[...] After a disastrous comedy called Keyholes Are For Peeping (1972) that Wishman refers to as the “kiss of death” (Juno 110), she moved on to her two most well known films. She signed a deal with Chesty Morgan, a stripper most famous for her 73-inch bust, which Wishman used as a focal point in the two films starring Morgan. In Deadly Weapons (1973), Morgan uses her bosom to smother a gang of thugs who murdered her boyfriend. In Double Agent 73 (1974), she plays a secret agent who has a hidden camera implanted in her breast, which she must use to take pictures of her enemies after she has killed them. [...]
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