Mondo Topless (1966)
By: J.R. McNamara on November 25, 2008  |  Comments ()  |  Bookmark and Share
Arrow Films (UK). All Regions, PAL. 4:3. English DD 2.0 Mono. 61 minutes
The Movie
Director: Russ Meyer
Starring: Babette Bardot, Pat Barrington, Sin Lenee, Darlene Grey, Diane Young
Country: USA
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You have to love 'mondo' movies! Titillation disguised as documentaries by directors looking for a quick buck and a cheap cluck! The most famous of these 'mondo' movies are usually the ones that feature acts of agony, scrotum squeezing, headshots, and corpses carried by care-givers who don't and made-up make-up effects made to evoke violent reactions from the viewer.

These ones are not the ones for me. I much prefer the ones featuring the fairer sex; the sexist symphonies of gorgeous gals, bountiful buxotics beaming in desert and deserted locales, revealing their gargantuan gifts to ol' Sol, who beams back with rapturous rays of lavish light, highlighting headlights and hairdos as they writhe and wriggle their way through faux intelligentsia, cinematic go-go dancing and strip-teasing … just the way we like it.

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the wonderful world, the electrifying earth, of Russ Meyer's Mondo Topless!!

Every fan of exploitation should have a basic knowledge of Russ Meyer: World War 2 combat photographer who couldn't get a break making 'legitimate' movies, who then moved into cheesecake photography for Playboy, and settled on making films, the way he, a self-confessed 'titman', wanted to see them. Over his career he made 23 films, the best known being John Waters' favorite film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! KILL!

Mondo Topless starts as a travelogue of San Francisco, where a nubile naked wonder drives us around town showing us not just the city sights, but a couple of hers as well!! The footage is narrated by John Furlong, a Meyer regular, who introduces the city and each of the well-endowed women as well. Over the next 60 minutes we are treated to the sights of 15 women, performing pulsating pastiches of gyrating go-go, irresistible writhing and thrilling thrusting. The film travels to Europe, visiting various strip joints around the world with accompanying footage of dancers from each country. Also as an added bonus, some stock footage of Lorna Maitland, star of Meyer's film 'Lorna', is also seen in random scenes, showing off her ample assets. The display of dynamic dames with dominating domes is not all the film is about though, each of these marvelously blessed misses has a lot to say about the troubles in their lives: the curse of curvaceousness, their opinions towards men who find them sexy or exciting, what they think of the problems in South America, and the threat of the Cuban missile crisis… Ok, so maybe they DON'T discuss some of those subjects, but at times during this review I was concentrating so much on the image, that I barely heard a word the women actually said!

Now rest assured this is no soft core or hard core pornography… no no no!! It is pure go-go, GO!!! This is low-priced kicks at their finest, and filmed by King Leer, the Fellini of the sex industry himself: Russ Meyer, you know these women are going to be filmed at obscure angles aimed to excite!! Not all of the footage in this flick was filmed for this flick; some of it comes from Meyer's 1963 Europe in the Raw feature, which was essentially the same film, but with only European performers in it. The surf guitar soundtrack is supplied by The Aladdins and is a classic example of its type, to be sure!!

Even though this was banned when it first was released in many countries, it is quite tame by todays 'pornographic standards'… which I guess is an oxymoron, but you, dear reader, know what I mean!!

I would just like to end this part of the review with a quote from Russ himself that sums this film up perfectly: 'Nothing is obscene providing it is done in bad taste.'

The film is over 40 years old, and displays some of the faults a film of this age may have. There are a lot of artifacts on this full screen presentation, but the picture is still sharp and the colors vibrant. I thought for a moment that there was also some telecine wobble, but then I realized that wasn't the wobble I was witness to!!
The soundtrack is presented in stereo only, but when you consider the only sound in it is actually sixties surf guitar and monologues, it isn't a disappointment!
Extra Features
An exemplary example of excellent extras for the above-average attributes aficionado (in other words, the mammary-minded Meyers man, or the girl who goes for go-go and gargantuan gynos!!)

There is a trailer reel of titillation and titanic proportions which features the trailers for the Meyer's epics: Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Blacksnake, Mudhoney, Vixen, Wild Gals of the Naked West (called 'The Immoral West throughout by the voice-over), Supervixens, Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens, Cherry, Harry and Raquel and finally Common-Law Cabin.

Next is a Stills gallery featuring not only photos of the full fronted femme fatales of this flick, but also a luxurious list of Lobby cards as well. Normally I have an aversion to stills galleries, but if they feature some of the advertising campaign, like this one, I am happy to enjoy the slideshow.

The Jonathon Ross Interviews Russ Meyer extra is taken from English TV presenter Jonathon Ross' documentary series 'The Incredibly Strange Film Show' (of which the second season was called 'Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show') where Ross interviewed such B legends as Tura Satana, Johnny Legend, David Friedman and others, including, obviously, Russ Meyer. This doco features interviews with not just Meyer and Satana, but also Roger Ebert, Kitten Natividad and Malcolm McClaren. It basically discusses, extremely briefly, his entire career, including his WW2 footage, of which there are examples and his resistance to making XXX features. Ross and Meyer also take a walk through his house and looks at his collection of Meyer-abilia, and there is also footage taken from the aborted Sex Pistols flick 'Who Killed Bambi?' and also from his epic opus 'The Breast of Russ Meyer'. This isn't a bad documentary, and it is nice to see Meyer in one of his few interviews, but with a career as long as his, and with such a strange life, it could have been five times as long. The director of this bit, Oscar nominee Andy Harries, deserves some creit for the effort he went to at emulating Meyer's cinematic eye for this mini-doc as well… very clever! If after seeing this you wish to seek out more information about Meyer, my suggestion would be to pick up the book 'Big Bosoms and Square Jaws' by Jimmy McDonough.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
If seeing the splendiferous assets of sexy sassy sweethearts swingin to the sounds of surf guitar is your scene, then Mondo Topless is for YOU!! Meyer has a heap of fun with this film, and at 60 odd minutes long, it's not too much of a waste of your time. The trick to watching this flick is to try and concentrate on the words of wisdom the dancers have to share while their fabulous funbags flop fantastically in your face. Good Luck!

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