Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Scum Of The Earth! (1963) Early Exploitation Transition Noir

There is no mincing of words with the title.

Mr. Lang the eponymous man of the title, runs a Miami, Florida cheesecake/nude model/porno ring. "Love That Harmon" Johnson, with a beach boy stubble and a two toned hairdo is the "pro" photographer. Sandy is the current "model." Sandy reminds me of Laura Dern.

She's working her assets to pay off some debt, but her "poses" ain't being grabbed up for late night, under the covers, whack off material as fast as before. Material that, still a minor in high school senior Ajax, sells to his sexually repressed underclassmen. Sandy tell's Lang she's just overexposed (they've seen it all and from all angles) and needs to retire. She wants out.

Lang checks his books and decides he'll cut her some slack. He gives Sandy a proposition. She can get out, of modeling that is, he'll make her his new recruiting agent. Have her procure new talent and . Only she not only has to bring in new talent but she'll also have to pose with the new girl to make her more comfortable and get her over the initial embarrassment. Lang also threatens that if she doesn't come through she'll have to do a broader variety of poses.

The premise of this film seems to come right out of some of the sleazier pulp paperbacks of the late 50's early 60s.

Sandy (Sandra Sinclair) 

Harmon Johnson (William Kerwin) Sandy and  Ajax (Craig Maudslay Jr.) 

Larry, Sandy, and Harmon

 Lang (Lawrence J. Aberwood)
Ajax is the talent scout. He finds the girls and tells Lang then Lang sends Sandy and Harmon to go trolling. Their target is Kim Sherwood she is a sort of cross of a little Bettie Page and a lot of Sherilyn Fenn. Harmon pays her for a few photo sessions. She makes $100.

Kim's photo shoot

 Kim Sherwood (Allison Louise Downe)

Back at the "publishing house" Lang, Harmon, and "Loudmouth" Larry, discuss Kimmy, and decide it's time they set the hook. They do this by telling Harmon not to call her.

Kimmy is a model student and has the rep around school as a prude. She has a sweet old man for a father, and a letter of admittance to Craxton University. The film really lays on the syrup. The tuition to the U. is $500.

When Kimmy doesn't hear from Harmon and the five C-note tuition bill looming she decides to call Harman. Of course Harmon's got the spiel down. He tells her he doesn't have any assignments that will fit her. He tell's her that he is shooting pictures but that she wouldn't want to pose for these. He tells her to come down about five and they'll talk about it Harmon next calls Loudmouth and tells him to show up at 5:30 come in by the back door for a little of the old cloak and dagger stuff.

I'm shooting pictures but I know you wouldn't want to pose for these

Kim shows up and Harmon explains that the shoot he's doing will need a topless model. Kim is reluctant until Harmon tells her he'll pay $500. He also tell her that if she poses and doesn't like the shots he won't submit them and he'll tear them up. Kim agrees to pose. During the shoot Loudmouth sneaks in a takes a snapshot of topless Kim.

Kim's Topless Shoot

Larry takes a snapshot

Kim runs off to the dressing room. Larry from outside the door tells her to come out that have business to discuss. Loudmouth tells Kim she'll have to pose for more nudie shots or he'll show her picture to her father. Kim calls Sandy over for some support. Sandy tells her that the best thing to do is to pose for them or they'll post her pictures all over this town.

Of course it all goes Noirsville


Tale Fins

Loudmouth Larry


Written and Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis. Cinematography was by Herschell Gordon Lewis. Music by Manuel Ortiz.

The film stars, William Kerwin as Harmon Johnson (as Thomas Sweetwood), Allison Louise Downe as Kim Sherwood (as Vickie Miles), Lawrence J. Aberwood as Lang (as Lawrence Wood), Sandra Sinclair as Sandy (as Sandy Sinclair), Craig Maudslay Jr. as Ajax, Christy Foushee as Marie (as Toni Calvert), Doug Brennan as Carl, Christina Castel as Cindy, the model, Edward Mann as Mr. Sherwood, Lou Youngman as Dave, punk in diner, William Caulder as Joe, punk in diner.

As with most of these low budget exploitation flicks some of the actors are wooden others are quite decent. It was also filmed at a time when TV's inroads into the entertainment industry had decimated the studios tight smooth running second unit productions. Even the quality of many independently produced higher concept Hollywood films lost their fine tuned workmanship as studio vets retired or fanned out into various projects diluting talent, quality suffered.

Scum of the Earth feels almost like Hollywood's old cautionary propaganda films like Reefer Madness, Assassin Of Youth, Boys Beware, Perversion for Profit, What Price Innocence?, but it sort of shows barely (wink, wink) what it's cautioning about.

Herschell Gordon Lewis considered this film a "transitional" picture in his directing career. It was his last Black & White film and it's credited with starting the "roughie" sub genre of exploitation. This would get at most a PG-13 rating. 6/10

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