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Doris Wishman (1912 - 2002)

Related: American cinema - Chesty Morgan - sexploitation - American exploitation

"What makes this story so strange is that all of the murders and deaths happened on October 15th. What makes this story even stranger is that most of the murders and deaths happened to the Kent brothers and their families." --A Night to Dismember, Doris Wishman

Bad Girls Go to Hell (1965) is one of Wishman's best-known films and includes many elements found commonly in sex-exploitation/sexploitation movies of the period. The main character is a young woman who accidentally kills a man in the course of an attempted rape then flees to New York. There, she stumbles into a variety sexually compromising and abusive situations. Though archetypal in its use of genre situations, Wishman's empathy for her female protagonist in Bad Girls Go to Hell has been lauded by some observers as proto-feminist. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doris_Wishman [Jun 2006]


Doris Wishman (July 23, 1912 - August 10, 2002) was an American screenwriter, film director and film producer who was involved with making approximately 30 different feature films from 1960 to her death in 2002. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doris_Wishman [Aug 2005]

Sexploitation [...]

Thanks to an increasing frankness in the content of many foreign films during the late 1950s and early Sixties, the American exploitation cinema found itself competing with a new market for more erotic celluloid thrills. In response, a small group of filmmakers - largely centered in New York - began to producing a new strain of black and white, no-budget pot boiler centered on the trials and tribulations of young women engulfed in a world of unregulated sexual passions.

While many of these films sported impossibly lurid titles, in truth "sexploitation" films were amazingly tame in terms of sexual content. The idea was to exploit the concept of sex without violating long-standing cultural and legal taboos against showing it all on the screen.

"See the Wild get-togethers of a Sex-conscious Generation!"

—Promotional tag line from The Sex Perils of Paulette

Doris Wishman's first foray into the "corrupt and immoral" genre of sexploitation was with The Sex Perils of Paulette (1964). Paulette - an ingenue - arrives in the Big City in the hopes of becoming an actress. She soon finds, however, that the economics of success mean endless prospects for prostitution but little hope for professional advancement. The film also features the fantastic Darlene Bennett and other actors who would make up the New York sexploitation repertory company. Doris's second sexploitation feature - Bad Girls Go to Hell (1965) - concerns the nightmarish narrative of a young housewife who kills a would-be rapist and flees to the City for fear of repercussions. In her flight, she descends into a demimonde of sexual predators - a drunken sadist, a horny landlord, and a lesbian who offers her affection. The film's docu-drama-style handheld cinematography was managed by C. Davis Smith, who soon became Doris's cameraman of choice.

Doris's next film in the "roughie" mold - a frequent synonym for the rough-hewn, violent, sexploitation drama - was Another Day, Another Man (1966). A young housewife prostitutes herself to pay her husband's medical bills, resulting in a tragic, O. Henry -type payoff.

Her following effort, Indecent Desires (1967), weaves fantasy and reality into a fabric of intrigue centering around a mysterious loner who finds a doll and a magic ring at the bottom of a trash can. After the man spies a pert, Barbie-like young woman walking down the street, the doll becomes imbued with the power to transmit the man's masturbatory caresses to the woman's body. A masterpiece of low-budget sublimity, the film seems to compulsively symbolize the double-bind that women of the 1960s found themselves in: expected to be both Madonnas and whores, deeply-felt sexual desire appears as a kind of occult force.

But Doris still had much to say in the sexpliotation genre after Indecent Desires. My Brother's Wife (1966) tells the tale of a love triangle between two brothers and a young, sexually unfulfilled wife. Far from being a lurid exposition on conventional lust, however, the film concerns itself with the woman's irresolvable struggle to come to terms with her desire for both men. Then, in A Taste of Flesh (1967), Doris heads off into the realm of the psychological thriller, pitting three women against a pair of assassins who hold them hostage overnight. Filmed within the confines of Doris's own apartment, the film radiates claustrophobia.

In her final sexploitation roughie - Too Much, Too Often (1968) - Doris breaks away from the centrality of female characters and tells the tale of a notorious gigolo who uses women to get ahead. Had Doris abandoned her proto-feminist perspective? Or was she shifting into a somewhat more directly critical, anti-masculinist stance? Whatever the case, her story ideas - and the cinema at large - were changing. --http://www.doriswishman.com/about2.html

Chesty Morgan

Percy did it funnier, Sex and Zen did it sexier, but The Amazing Transplant did it first, and in the exploitation biz' that's all that really matters. In 1970 lunatic artisan Doris Wishman decided to tackle the sensational concept of the penis graft, and while the results aren't nearly as scandalous as the sordid subject matter would suggest there's still an abundance of deliriously dished-out depravity for admirers of her reckless charms to cherish. --http://www.mondo-digital.com/chesty.html

Deadly Weapons (1973) - Doris Wishman

  1. Deadly Weapons (1973) - Doris Wishman [Amazon.com]
    Yes, Virginia, there is a Doris Wishman, and she really did carve a career out of blunt, bizarre, and bewilderingly bad sexploitation films. Deadly Weapons is one of her most notorious, a revenge tale starring the impossibly endowed Polish-born stripper Chesty Morgan (identified in the credits simply as Zsa Zsa), whose claim to fame is a 73-inch bust that she displays, strokes, and fondles in practically every scene. The nominal plot involves a mob blackmail scheme and a double-crossing gangster who just happens to be Chesty's boyfriend. When the syndicate kills him, she goes undercover to take her revenge on his murderers in a most unique way: She smothers them with her grotesque bosom. There's nothing erotic about this crazy freak show, but it is jaw-droppingly weird. Chesty is no actress--she shuffles, zombielike, through the picture while numbly gazing down as if looking for her mark--and her voice is supplied by a breathy American. As far as that goes, Wishman isn't much of a director. The picture is highlighted by flat performances, clumsy editing, wildly fluctuating color, and a tendency to cut away from dialogue scenes (she often lands on Chesty's mammoth mammaries) to hide the fact that all of the voices are dubbed in later. There's little of the spirit that makes Ed Wood's klutzy little pictures so much fun, but there is something strange and unique about this outrageous, unreal, and otherwise numbingly inept picture. It proved successful enough for Wishman and Morgan to team up for a pseudo-sequel, Double Agent 73. --Sean Axmaker for amazon.com

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