Streeting the same day as a triple feature of teen girls in heaps of trouble is this double-feature of teen girls who end up knocked up before their prime. Morality tales were still going strong in the exploitation market, years after roadshows had broke box office records with MOM AND DAD and BECAUSE OF EVE, and these two shining gems of the 60s are just as good, if not better, than previous roadshow films resurrected on DVD by Something Weird.
It's a lovely summer evening and young lovers Patty and Alan have a run-in with a trio of young hooligans who run a STOP sign and ram into Alan's car. Apparently they didn't cause enough trouble, so they follow the couple to lover's lane and gang-bang poor Patty while Alan is held back and forced to watch. Now, if this was the sick 70s, Alan would go on a blood-soaked spree of vengeance, or even better, Patty would pull a I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE on her rapists. But since this is the 60s, Alan calmly drives Patty home, who refuses to go to the police out of embarrassment and terror. To make matters worse, Patty discovers she is pregnant and is forced to ask her friendly roommate Mary (a very good performance by Merry Anders) for help in obtaining an abortion (shock! horror!).
THE SHAME OF PATTY SMITH (1962) has a surefire exploitation title and a familiar concept from countless other films of its ilk (STREET CORNER, for one), but it's really much more bleak and better-realized than viewers may have been prepared for, then and now. From the strikingly well-produced opening credits, the audience is made aware this is not your typical shot-on-a-shoestring cautionary teen pregnancy tale. Patty Smith is a likable young girl, well-acted by Dani Lynn, and her plight is an easy one to identify with. We follow Patty as she goes from place to place, seeking help for her problems, but is turned away by doctors and priests before she finally is forced to sell family heirlooms and borrow money to pay for a back-alley abortion organized by sleazy rotund Bruno VeSota. Here is where the film becomes incredibly uncomfortable; where previous 30s films would have had a foreign caricature portraying the abortionist, here it is a wife and husband team who are as American as apple pie, running an abortion clinic out of a fitness center with a fake medical license and no knowledge of how to perform the procedure properly. It would be easy to laugh if the film was over-the-top and campy, but SHAME OF PATTY SMITH simply isn't. It's a tense character-driven drama, with superb performances and accomplished camerawork and editing, so don't be surprised if you shed a few tears for poor pretty Patty. Also, I believe this is the first roadshow film I've seen which features a valid argument FOR abortion from a respected doctor who wishes he could legally perform Patty's operation, citing hundreds of girls across the country who could benefit from such a procedure when suffering from similar circumstances. By the end of the film, it's unclear where the film stands on the pro-life controversy, which is still going strong today, but PATTY SMITH is an entertaining, well-made feature film worth discovering.
And now for something completely different: YOU'VE RUINED ME, EDDIE! is another diamond in the rough of abortion dramas. You've probably never seen anything like it. Rich girl Joan has a summer fling with working stiff Eddie, and thinks nothing of revealing to him the fact that he's gotten her pregnant....and she plans on aborting the baby! Now, if this was another abortion drama, Eddie would be overjoyed and Joan wouldn't be so nonchalant about the procedure. Instead, Eddie pressures Joan to keep the baby, at least so he can start a new family line (he grew up in a repressive orphanage). The bitch staunchly refuses and goes to her stuffy daddy about the matter. He tries throwing money at Eddie to buy him out, but cash cannot buy Eddie's affections for his unborn child. Crazed with determination to never give birth, Joan grabs her daddy's pistol and goes to settle the dispute once and for all...
YOU'VE RUINED ME, EDDIE! (1960) is another flick that deserves an award for its dynamite exploitation title, but is in reality another well-acted, good-looking low-budget feature. Dentonville is the shoestring version of Peyton Place, populated by blue-collar everyday Joe's and overseen by the millionaire Denton family (Joan's family). Vikky Smith, the new girl in town, wants to help Eddie gain custody of the child, but fears she will violate her parole and lose her own child in the process. Eddie is played as a poor pathetic loser, but as the movie progresses, the audience does begin to feel sympathy for him, resulting in emotional conflicts: do we support the abortion of an unwanted child if the mother is so flippant about it, or do we force her to have the child for the sake of the father? It's an interesting angle that no other exploitation film has taken, as far as I've seen, and paired with another refreshing departure from the usual like SHAME OF PATTY SMITH, this is one of the best double features Something Weird has released this year! There's some very good familiar jazzy library music, lots of vicious hateful dialogue, and best of all, the final 10 minutes of a wild-eyed Joan chasing Eddie through the swamp, shooting wildly, must be seen to be believed! There's some surprising gore and plot twists along the way; to sum up, you've got to see YOU'VE RUINED ME, EDDIE!
A collection of teen morality tale trailers is included: DAMAGED GOODS is the Sid Davis color JD film, with alluring Dolores Faith as a femme fatale who comes between an all-American high school couple. It was sold as a movie about venereal disease, but that aspect only takes up the last 20 minutes. Something Weird released it on DVD, paired with the far superior HARD ROAD. EIGHTEEN AND ANXIOUS for some reason thinks teens of the 50s liked jazz and big band music....?! An over-the-top trumpet player is a notorious womanizer, breaking hearts left and right, including Mary Webster. Jim Backus is her father!! A pretty funny scene has "The Millionaire" asking his daughter, "Are you pregnant?" His response: drop the glass bowl in her hand and scream "Yes! Yes I AM!" THE EMBRACERS is wall-to-wall bad acting in a Joseph Brenner flick, which means it is probably lost. The lead actress sleeps with a slew of men after running away from home, and is passed around by one of her men like a doobie! GIRL IN TROUBLE is the excellent New Orleans exploitation masterpiece available on DVD from Something Weird. See my review for the raves! MARRIED TOO YOUNG was exciting for me because it's an early role for 70s cult fave Marianna Hill (MESSIAH OF EVIL, HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER) as a jukebox harlot. A teen couple must marry when the girl gets pregnant. There's a police chase scene, for some reason! STREET CORNER is a superb 40s roadshow flick starring former child actress Marcia Mae Jones (HEIDI, A LITTLE PRINCESS) as a girl impregnated by her beau, who dies in a car accident. If you don't already own the Something Weird DVD of this one, shame on you! Get it now! It even has a Dave Friedman commentary! UNMARRIED MOTHERS was a Swedish import complete with shocking childbirth scenes, but the trailer shows no footage from this fascinating relic.
A Special Intermission Book Pitch discusses the effects of teenage marriage (boy quits school, girl can't be social) by an on-screen narrator whose eyes are obviously reading cue cards. He then proceeds to sell a series of books discussing marriage, sex, childbirth, and venereal disease called "The Mid-Century Marriage Guide." I'm a sucker for these, so I'd probably hit the lobby to buy one! This would have been a great disc for Something Weird to bring back the "Let's Go to the Drive-In!" interactive feature and this intermission short would have fit perfectly. An additional short is one of those ultra-cheesy McGraw-Hill Books shorts, "How Much Affection?" A young girl is brought home after a date and runs into the house without haste! It seems the two got a little too friendly with one another and were shocked, appalled, and confused by their horny behavior. They remember their classmates Fred and Eileen, who went "all the way" and were cursed with a baby, forced to get marry, and now live their lives in an unhappy state. Check out the other McGraw-Hill shorts "Is This Love?" (a personal favorite) and "When Should I Marry?"! A gallery of exploitation posters (many of which I've never seen before) is supported by awesome radio spots (including DEVIL WOMAN and PARANOIA). (Casey Scott)
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