Saturday, May 1, 2010
Lingerie scenes were less common in US cinema than in its British counterpart, although occasional 'boudoir' imagery sneaked in under the radar every now and them. Sexual elements were generally toned down in accordance with the Hays Code, a censorship board which demanded - amongst other things - that underwear be of the neck-to-knee variety so popular in the late 19th century.
The results were amusing to say the least. Navels were a taboo subject on both film and TV, meaning that costumes frequently had to be redesigned to cover the tummy-button. In addition, American actresses were rarely depicted on screen in stocking-tops and garter belts - presumably because such uninhibited sexuality would cause riots in the streets.
There were, however, a few notable exceptions to the rule, usually B-grade thrillers that somehow made it past the censors. It's also interesting to note how overtly sexual themes surfaced in American horror flicks (in contrast to Britain's 'naughty' comedies).
The 1964 schlock masterpiece The Strangler featured two gratuitous stripteases (unusual for the time) between assorted acts of mayhem and violence. In both cases, the girls were shown stripping down to pristine white bras and panties before peeling off their stockings.
By contrast, 1959's Attack of the Giant Leeches may best be described as a horror in its own right. Take my word for it, this has to be one of the biggest turkeys this side of Plan Nine from Outer Space, and that's being as generous as humanly possible. Even the brief panty-scene near the start couldn't save this humongous lemon.