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Olga films - Joseph P. Mawra
Audrey Campbell photo by Lee Kraft.
image sourced here.
BEFORE THE END of Hollywoods production code and the rise of hard-core pornography, some of independent films most creative minds were hard at work in the exploitation, soft-core and nudie genres. A few elevated their craft into an art form. Russ Meyer, Joseph Sarno and Radley Metzger all flourished during the 1960s, offering that extra something the European imports didnt violence, plus an underlying American sense of morality.
A lesser-known name is Joseph P. Mawra, director of such cult fare as All Men Are Apes and Shanty Tramp. Mawra struck paydirt in 1964, just as American sex films were spicing things up with torture and bondage new subgenres that included the "nudie-roughie" and the "nudie-kinkie." Mawras cult hit White Slaves of Chinatown introduced the sadistic Olga Saglo (Audrey Campbell), adept in white slavery and narcotics pushing. In the film, Olga works for an unnamed syndicate, procuring girls for well-off older men and even peddling dope to schoolkids. She also ruthlessly tortures her female victims in a basement dungeon, turning them into prostitutes and drug pushers after breaking their spirit.
A huge underground hit in the U.S. and all over Europe, White Slaves spawned two sequels in the same year, Olgas Girls and Olgas House of Shame, each effortlessly surpassing the shocks of the previous entry. Lensed in black and white with almost no synchronized-sound dialogue and without scripts, they have more in common with Beat-noir horror films such as John J. Parkers Dementia than they do with most of the sexploitation of the day. Heavy-handed narration and an ominous classical soundtrack give the proceedings a surreal tinge. At the heart of the Olga films attraction, of course, is Olga herself, memorably played by Campbell, a striking New York model/actress looking for theater work at the time. Bringing to life the beautiful and sinister Olga, Campbell was able to convey more with a look than most actresses of today do with pages of dialogue. In 1972 the Village Voice named her "the most talented performer to come up through exploitation film." --http://www.filmmakermagazine.com/summer2001/reports/named_olga.php [Apr 2005]
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