laserdisc review by
Gary Johnson


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Russ Meyer
The Immoral Mr. Teas & Mondo Topless

In the 1950s, when male moviegoers desired a dose of female nudity, they frequently turned to nudist camp movies--an "adults-only" genre that presented nudists as a wholesome, happy volleyball loving lot. Due to the loosened obscenity regulations of the '50s, these movies (with titles such as Diary of a Nudist and As Nature Intended) slipped past censors and into theaters across the country.

To prospective filmmakers such as a young Russ Meyer, nudist camp movies were a disappointment. Meyer was a skilled photographer whose work had appeared in Playboy. He was accustomed to photographing beautiful women, but the women that appeared in nudist movies were ordinary. So in 1959, Meyer scrapped together enough money to make a movie of his own, a movie that would focus upon beautiful amply-endowed women in various stages of undress. That movie, The Immoral Mr. Teas, made no pretense of presenting nudity as a lifestyle option, as did the nudist camp movies. It was simply about ogling naked female bodies.

Because of movies such as The Immoral Mr. Teas, the era of the nudie-cuties was born. These movies were part comedies and part cheesecake exhibitions. A typical story would focus on a simple working man as he made his daily rounds and encountered a variety of naked and nearly-naked women. No sex, mind you, takes place in these movies. Just lots of wide-eyed gawking.

Now, a new double-feature laserdisc release from Russ Meyer's own RM Films International allows us to experience Russ Meyer's classic nudie-cutie The Immoral Mr. Teas. And if it doesn't satisfy your desire for ogling naked female breasts, the disc's second feature, Mondo Topless, most certainly will.

The Immoral Mr. Teas
Whereas most nudie-cutie movies contain some of the lamest comedy you'll ever see, the comedy in The Immoral Mr. Teas is frequently effective. It focuses on the antics of a delivery man played by Bill Teas. Wherever he goes, he can't stop thinking about naked women. And if you've seen the women he encounters on his daily rounds, you would hardly blame him. When he makes a delivery to a dentist, the nurse greets him at the front desk--with her blouse unbuttoned to her navel. When he drops by the local diner for lunch, the waitress leans so far over the counter that Mr. Teas can see all the way to Christmas. And when he returns to the main office after a hard day's work, the secretary jiggles while furiously typing.

Breasts, breasts, breasts. They're everywhere. Mr. Teas likes looking at them, but that's all he is, a looker. Like most male characters in nudie-cutie films, Mr. Teas is ineffectual. Even in his dreams, he doesn't think about physical contact with women. Instead, he has strange, stylized dreams that take place in cartoonish settings. His dreams contain naked women, yes, but they're only there to look at.

Ineffectual lead characters like Mr. Teas would become the hallmark feature of the nudie-cutie films. Thanks to these childish male characters, the movies could display naked women without ever insinuating that the purpose was sexual. The lead character might get flustered by the anatomy on display, but he'd never pursue his sexual desires. In fact, he'd quite probably run in the opposite direction. For example, when Mr. Teas casts his fishing line into a lagoon, a woman lies down beside him to suntan and promptly takes off her top. What does Mr. Teas do? He leaps into the water to get away from her.

Even his job is a joke. We see him dressed in a suit and a bow tie as he goes to work. He enters the main office and soon emerges dressed in a red jumpsuit and pushing a bicycle. The omnipresent narrator conjectures that he might be delivering "radioactive isotopes" that will "make our country invincible to enemy attack." But soon we discover he is actually delivering sets of false teeth.

The nudity in The Immoral Mr. Teas is fleeting until about halfway through the movie. At this point, possibly as a result of a reaction to a Novocain shot at the dentist, he begins having loopy dreams: a naked waitress cleans tables while he eats a watermelon, a naked nurse assists as a dentist extracts a tooth the size of deer antlers from Mr. Teas' mouth, etc.

He tries to relax by taking a fishing trip, but when he takes a nap, a trio of naked beauties set up camp nearby and begin cavorting--completely oblivious to Mr. Teas. He sneaks through the brush in order to get a better look as they swing on a tree, splash in the water, and slap a guitar. Meanwhile, the narrator makes nonsensical (and humorous) comments: "Doctors have stated for many years that sunshine in measured quantities has a very beneficial effect on the human body. Sunshine also is important to photosynthesis and evaporation, which eventually leads to rainfall." At times, Mr. Teas sneaks to within only a few feet of the women. That's part of the allure, I suppose, of the nudie-cutie genre: the films pretended that their male characters were practically invisible and could innocently stumble upon unclothed women. And when they did fall prey to their desires, as when a woman gives Mr. Teas a come-hither look and urges him to follow her upstairs, the results were frequently absurd: in this case, the woman is only interested in ironing Mr. Teas' red uniform.

The Immoral Mr. Teas definitely is not a sophisticated movie, but it's overflowing with a geeky brand of charm. This is the kind of movie that Austin Powers would love.

Mondo Topless
With Mondo Topless, Russ Meyer discarded all vestiges of plot. This is a movie about one thing and one thing alone: Breasts. You'll see them bouncing, jiggling, and swinging. You'll see them covered in water, mud, and sweat. This is Russ Meyer's "swinging tribute to unrestrained female anatomy." With rock'n'roll setting the beat, a bevy of bump-and-grind artists thrust and bob for the camera.

If that sounds like your kind of thing, you'll no doubt have lots of fun with this movie. Whereas, The Immoral Mr. Teas took a rather coy attitude toward nudity, Mondo Topless is wall-to-wall breasts. As the narrator tells us: "Fantastic women, fantastic dances, featuring the world's loveliest buxotics. You've only dreamed there were women like these--until now! But they're real! Unbelievably real in Mondo Topless!"

This is one of Meyer's most felicitous movies. It allowed him to focus on the object of his desires without anything getting in the way. There are no characters. There is no story. Just sit back and watch the gyrations commence. Barbette Bardot does a striptease in the desert, beside a roaring locomotive. Pat Berringer cavorts at the base of a high-voltage electrical tower. Sin Lenee relaxes in a shower released by a water tower. Diane Young (a curiously small-breasted woman among the Amazons on display here) furiously gyrates on a beach while winking and grinning at the camera. And Darla Paris wildly kicks up her heels in a forest. While the camera records each dancer/stripper in action, we hear the women drop "pearls of wisdom" from their personal philosophies: "I feel I am alluring to a man, with or without clothes, and I try to be. This is my main purpose in life," says one. "I've always liked to sleep in the raw," says another. "I enjoy being looked at and appreciated," says yet another. Much of this commentary is simply sad--and Meyer seems to know this. After giving us several "pearls" at the beginning of the movie, the narrator breaks in: "Enough of this palaver! Let's get the show on the road!" And then the camera focuses on each performer as they go through their routines.

Mondo Topless is a ridiculously insignificant movie in the Russ Meyer canon, but Meyer filmed the movie with his customary gusto. The opening sequence, for example, is an amazing collage of San Francisco sights and sounds: "San Francisco," shouts the narrator, "situated on precipitous peaks above yawning canyons, precariously perched and poised on the tip of a peninsula. San Francisco thrusts itself into the bosom of the Pacific." Mixed in with the postcard footage and the absurd double-entendres, a stark naked Barbette Bardot drives an automobile up and down the streets of San Francisco, smiling and licking her lips as she turns the steering wheel. And on the soundtrack, driving rock'n'roll propels the movie forward and pushes the intensity level into hyperbolic orbit.

To fill out the movie and give it an international flavor, Russ Meyer cannibalized his own Europe in the Raw. So in addition to the new footage with dancers/strippers gyrating in American locales, Meyer also takes his audience through the Moulin Rouge in Belgium, the Casino du Paris in Hamburg, the Atlantic Palace in Copenhagen, and the Crazy Horse Saloon in Paris.

It would be very difficult to argue that Mondo Topless is anything more than a small blip on the radar screen of Meyer's career; however, if you have a taste for this sort of filler, it's also surprisingly enjoyable. Meyer's camera never stays long in one place. Among the expected close-ups of faces and breasts, Meyer also mixes in close-ups of reel-to-reel tape players, VU meters, and transistor radios. Surprisingly, this is one of Meyer's best edited movies As much as it feels like a simple throwaway, Mondo Topless brims with kinetic energy.


Russ Meyer's The Immoral Mr. Teas and Mondo Topless are now available on a double-feature laserdisc from RM Films International (distribution by Image Entertainment). Suggested retail price: $39.99. For additional information, we suggest you check out the Image Entertainment Web site and the official Russ Meyer Films International Web site.