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Hideout in the Sun poster

 
 
November 2007 SITE MAP   SEARCH

Hideout In The Sun
cast: Pat Reilly, Dolores Carlos, Ann Richards, and Earl Bauer

director: Doris Wishman

240 minutes (n/r) 1960
widescreen ratio 16:9
Retro Seduction Cinema DVD Region 1 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Richard Bowden
When her husband died, Doris Wishman was already part of the film distribution industry but, as she explained years later: "I needed to do something that would be so different that it would keep me occupied every second. I didn't know what I was doing when I started production." The film that kick-started her long career as a cult exploitation director in such uncertain fashion was Hideout In The Sun, the first of several nudist films made by the director until, along with most of the industry, she abandoned the genre in the mid-1960s, Hideout may not on the level of Nude On The Moon (1961) which was to follow, let alone the delirious excesses of such other films as Deadly Weapons (1974) it still retains enough charm, and is characteristic enough of Wishman's work, to be eminently watchable. Whether or not the film is worth such lavish treatment as it has now been accorded in this deluxe two-disc set will be down to fans and viewers to decide.

Combining Dragnet melodramatics and nudist frolics in one cheaply constructed package, Hideout is the tale of two brother heisters, Steve and Duke (Earl Bauer and Greg Conrad), on the run after a payroll robbery, forced to hole up in the Hibiscus Country Club which, oddly enough, turns out to be a nudist colony. Along the way they kidnap Dorothy (Delores Carlos), a member of the club, and during their brief stay with the naturists she and Steve find a mutual liking for each other. But even as the anxious and humane Steve finds a new happiness in arms of his winsome nude and her lifestyle - "I feel healthy in body and mind for the first time in my life," he says - so equally does the permanently cross and resentful Duke, in hiding and so excluded from the naked goings on, want to leave - he's in a hurry to get the ill-gotten gains off to safety. Finally (courtesy of the sparsely attended Miami Serpentarium) events come to a head in a show down with some snakes, a croc, and a lone policeman.

Hideout In The Sun is distinguished by a title song of the same name which appears, to good effect, thrice in the movie: a mellow ballad which fits in well with the laid back jazz which permeates the rest of the soundtrack. The film was also shot on bright Eastman colour stock which, although the print here (apparently salvaged from a sole remaining version which the director held on to) suffers a bit from the odd tramline and the distraction of missing frames, is still enough to give a vivid evocation both of Dorothy's familiarly innocent lifestyle, as well as being a product of an adult movie industry moment now long past. Much of the dialogue is looped or post-synched, thereby gaining a dreamlike, or distancing effect familiar to those who relish this sort of genre. It also allows Wishman to play on the disassociation between the cruel world outside the Hibiscus club and its Eden-esque interior; a timeless sunlit place where naked folks wander around amongst tame flamingos, swans and emus, splash contentedly (if coyly) in pools, play the jiggling handball variant that's such a prerequisite of contemporary nudist cinema, shoot archery, or just stretch out in the sun with over emphatic casualness. At this stage in the cycle pubes were verboten; instead strategically placed towels and crooked legs cover the necessary areas in studied ways which quickly became a stereotype all of their own.

If the Hibiscus Club is a sort of Eden, then it's apt that Duke is ultimately consigned to expulsion from the enclave, onto a fate amongst the serpents, an apt scheme of things. But how you respond to Hideout overall depends on how you accept the budding director as the genre 'auteur' that some argue she became. If nothing else, although she was never a woman's libber, Wishman was a feminist role model, a survivor in an industry where men predominated. And if for some 'trash' remains trash, no matter how much fancy pleading is made, I'd argue there is a form of art here, even in her first film, and not just of the naughty postcard variety. (One can imagine how the some story would have been treated, full of sniggers and studio flatness, if it had been given the Carry On treatment, for instance.) It's art of a guileless type, but sneaked in under the cover of 'bad movies'; one of narrative non-sequiturs, where already there's the feeling that the director is going her own fledgling way disorganising narrative just as eventually, in both time and with greater respectability, Godard was to do in the art house much further down the cinematic road. As critic Andrea Juno put it in his piece on the director, in the book Incredibly Strange Films: "behind her economically deprived visuals lies a wealth of imagination: wildly improbable plots, bizarre 'method acting' and scripts yielding freely to fantasy." Whilst the recently long-lost Hideout remains a minor work in Wishman's extensive oeuvre, still unsteady on its feet, it remains junk not to be just thrown away.

Retro-Seduction's two-disc set includes an interview with the self-deprecating director who readily concedes that she was uncertain on her first project - in fact one Lazarus Wolk is officially credited with the movie, but most agree that Wishman actually turned in the work. Included also is an interview with another industry veteran, the director-producer David Friedman who talks about his relationship with her, as well as a number of trailers from the same source. More substantial is a 27-minute short Postcards From Nudist Camp, a compilation of foreign nudist sequences, the conveyor belt blandness of which works to the main feature's modest advantage. Nice colours again though. Interestingly, Wishman's film is presented in two versions, one in the original academy ratio, the other an anamorphic 1.78:1 matted letterboxed version. I'm not sure what the benefits are for this, as the picture quality remains more or less the same while the cropping just removes rather pointlessly information round the edge of the screen.
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