|Index||6 reviews in total|
At 11 I was the youngest member of Local B22 of the Theatrical and
Stagehands Union in Seattle who worked at the El Rancho Drive-in Theater
between Auburn and Kent in Washington State. The Honey Drive-in Theater
chain booked this film into our little farm-community where it was a real
cause celebre. The family had a council to determine if I would work as
speaker repairman that week. It was determined that a little T & A would
not harm me. I had great status with my junior high school buddies for
having seen the film not once but twice a day for a week. The chain
booked a nudie film in our theater again.
There was a song called "Let's Go Sunnin'" which I inadvertently memorized and can sing, poorly, to this day. The song was resurrected in a commercial for the San Diego Visitor's Bureau that played throughout the Northeast USA during at least 1998 through 2000.
I'm sure for its time it was very innovative, but no one took this
subject matter seriously in the '50's. Take for instance the scene
where Jamie O'Hara remarks how "delightful" it feels to watch her
little daughter playing nude with other children, but balks when she
sees other adults.
Nowadays the situation is reversed. With the proliferation of Girls Gone Wild, Hedonism and HBO & Playboy documentaries, mainstream audiences now see nudism as an adult hobby, and parents who involve their children are facing criminal investigations.
I expected more of the writer to make use of R.G. Armstrong. He's a very nice man. Met him at Dupar's four years ago. But such a talented actor who really should have been given more to do as the uptight old father figure.
I remember this film hitting the theatres when I was a kid but of course I couldn't go to see it much to my disappointment. Having recently got a copy on DVD I found it a refreshing change from other "nudies" of the period, for one thing most of the people in it could act, including the little girl who later went on to be a regular in a TV series. Also it was great to see they didn't utilise the method commonly used in other films of the genre of people walking around with a beach ball or magazine held in front of there lower regions which frankly always made the scenes laughable, with the exception of a brief frontal shot of the little girl no one was filmed full frontal which took away the comic aspect and gave a more serious impression. One thing I wonder though is in today's so called liberated society would they still be allowed to show a man pick up a little naked girl and run his hand up and down her back while talking to her? I doubt it.
Garden of Eden (1954)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Susan (Jamie O'Hara) wants to get away from her awful father-in-law (R.G. Armstrong) so she packs up her young daughter (Karen Sue Trent) and heads off. Their car breaks down in Tampa and they are rescued by Johnny (Mickey Knox) who takes them back to his home. His "home" turns out to be a nudist colony where the conservative Susan learns a few things.
GARDEN OF EDEN wasn't the first nudist movie ever made but it is believed to be the first one that was actually shot in color. In fact, this really isn't your typical nudist film as there are professional actors here and the main point of the film is actually it's plot. Yes, there's actually a plot here. You'll also be interested in knowing that many of the cast members would go onto appear on television shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Leave It to Beaver as well as movies like THE GODFATHER PART III, PREDATOR and THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY among others.
This film actually turned out to be pretty good as there's a nice little story at the center of it. The lead female character's husband was killed in the war and she's having to deal with the rather annoying father-in-law. She then leaves town, ends up at this joint and has a lot to think about the future of her life. I thought all of this was handled quite well and it certainly helped that we were given some real actors and they turned in nice performances. This was especially true of O'Hara and Armstrong who was making his film debut.
As far as the exploitation nature, yes, the film was originally sold because of its nudity and it faced various legal issues in nearly each state that it tried to play. The nudist scenes are what you'd expect as we see people walking around, swimming and of course there's the volleyball sequence. The people are all of the attractive nature and there's no doubt that the nudity and the setting mix well with the story and in the end it really helps the picture.
There are some obviously flaws with the movie including some of the pacing as well as some of the moral preaching but for the most part I can comfortably say that GARDEN OF EDEN is the best nudist movie that I've seen.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I maybe full of BS but I like this movie. I remember the old "Art House" movies in the 60's and this film had even less nudity than those grind-house epics...But I like it. My goodness, a family torn apart and totally repaired by some sunshine? Wonderful. And some stars are part of this movie. R G Armstrong can probably best be remembered as the father whose one son was shot and another killed in the classic El Dorado. Someone sunk some money into this film as the Song "lets go sunning" is currently used on fallout New Vegas. The song was musically well done in that old 50's TV theme style. Sometime its good to turn your brain off and watch and old guilty pleasure. And It is currently on Amazon Prime for free!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
GARDEN OF EDEN is one of those obscure exploitation movies partially filmed at a real-life nudist camp and revelling in the fact. It plays out as a completely predictable family drama in which the prim and proper upbringing of the main characters is shaken up by the usual nudist camp visit, complete with volleyball games and the like. It's a dull little thing, near plot less, without much in the way of actual nudity, loaded with wooden acting from the non-performers, although some amusement is raised by the presence of future Hollywood actor R.G. Armstrong in a supporting role.
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