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"Brad Grinter, Nudist" is a 10-minute short excerpted from "Sweet Bird of Aquarius." Brad Frank Grinter, who was a nudist in real life, plays a news anchor who advises his cameraman ("Blood Feast" star William Kerwin) to spice up his marriage with a visit to a nudist camp. Dragging his wife to the camp, the viewer is witness to footage of "Girls Come Too" (1968) spliced together with footage of Grinter's backyard serving as the "nudist camp." See more »
A bit of schizophrenia is evident behind the camera for SWEET BIRD OF AQUARIUS, a porn film that can't make up its mind as to genre. It's easy enough to sit through but ultimately unrewarding.
Problem is evidently the exigencies of the marketplace. In 1970 these filmmakers, namely the Kerwins, had plenty of experience in soft porn and wanted to exploit some new liberalism regarding permissible screen content. But the result is a mish-mash of old hat merged with "with-it" attitudes, that refuse to coalesce.
William Kerwin plays a frustrated newlywed Steve -his wife Lori of a month (beautiful but can't-act-a-lick Suzanne Robinson) is so prudish and neurotic she won't let him make love to her. Opening reel has the duo literally playing cat & mouse as she finds excuses to avoid going to bed with him, ultimately resulting in his raping her to at least get something out of the marriage contract.
Belatedly they head to a doctor, and the film shifts gears from serious marital drama to a reel of authentic, vintage white-coater action. The doc gives her a physical exam, at which it takes endless coaxing for her to get naked. We keep waiting for the doc or his buxom nurse to do something sleazy, but it's 100% professional (and dull). Upshot is doc putting Lori on a strict pill-a-day birth control regimen, hoping that this will cure her possible fear of pregnancy. At this point the film substitutes fear of being seen in the nude for fear of having sex in a rather confusing & unconvincing simplification.
AQUARIUS then takes an odd turn into genre #3: Nudist Camp film. Steve's best buddy George (Brad Grinter) at his TV station listens to his tale of marital woe, and suggests the unlucky couple come visit his nudist camp for "shock treatment". He argues that wifey seeing all those naked, natural folk will be cured of not wanting to get naked for him. Okay....
Having seen many of the Nudist Camp films from the early '60s, and their '30s to '50s forerunners, I was taken aback by AQUARIUS's 1970 approach. The charm (and severe limitation) of the Nudist Camp genre is the contortions the cast members go through to avoid showing their private parts, as literal "t&a" is delivered to the skin-hungry audience in the form of bare breasts and posteriors. Here we get full-monty nudity, 1970-style, with both Kerwin and Grinter unashamed to show off what they've got, even though, to borrow a wrestling term, they've only been blessed with small packages. The girls, of course, have great figures.
It turns out that George and his wife Liz (knockout beauty Sherry Nealson) have ulterior motives. The au naturel lifestyle they're introducing Lori to is merely a stepping stone to having her join their informal group of swingers.
At this point the film switches gears once more into genre #4: Suburban sexploitation, the genre Joe Sarno invented and which Wm. Kerwin previously participated in via Herschell Gordon Lewis' SUBURBAN ROULETTE. That HGL film is the visual and dramatic template for the final reels of AQUARIUS, except that director Harry Kerwin (William's brother) has the good sense to include nudity and hot & heavy sex scenes, totally lacking in the desultory HGL opus.
Film's tongue-in-cheek twist ending, predictable but which I will avoid spoiling here, is meant to be ironic but comes off as stupid, on the level of a Playboy Party Joke.
Film's goofy title hints at hip action from the Age of Aquarius, but this cast generally looks like the '50s, as square as can be. Except for some beautiful naked women, it has little to offer. Something Weird's DVD-R issue runs 65 minutes and seems fairly complete, but the AFI catalogue and IMDb list an original running time of 90 minutes, which I am guessing was just a ballpark estimate (the way they estimate 60 to 75, or 75 to 90 to indicate feature length), and is probably false.
Leading lady Suzanne Robinson is easy on the eyes, and I believe she was re-teamed with the Kerwins (under another alias "Kayelynne") as the blonde wife who gets raped in their 1975 film GOD'S BLOODY ACRE.
It's interesting that Grinter went on to direct two very late in the cycle Nudist Camp films in the mid-1970s, apparently lost (and not on any wish lists). The IMDb summary on one of them (NEVER THE TWAIN) is priceless: "Tagline: Her husband's spirit possessed by that of Mark Twain at the Miss Nude World Pageant".
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