“[Wishman] seemed genuinely surprised, even skeptical, that anyone could find her work worthy of study, probably because at first glance her films often reveal such trademark low-budget production values as dodgy lighting and interiors resembling rundown motel rooms. Yet behind her economically deprived visuals lie a wealth of imagination: wildly improbable plots, bizarre ‘method’ acting and scripts yielding freely to fantasy.”–“Incredibly Strange Films”
FEATURING: Sharon Kent, Michael Alaimo, Trom Little, Jackie Richards
PLOT: A nebbishy pack rat finds a ring and a blonde doll in a trash can; soon after, he sees secretary Ann walking to work, then sees the image of the doll overlaid on Ann’s body. Returning to his dingy apartment, he puts on the ring and gropes the doll, and Ann feels invisible hands on her as she stands by the water cooler. The stalker follows Ann home after she leaves work, discovers she has a steady boyfriend, and takes out his jealousy on the doll.
- Doris Wishman, who had worked in film distribution, began her directing career after her husband died at a young age as a way to keep busy. She originally began working in the brief nudist camp genre, movies that rushed to exploit nudity after a New York judge ruled that stories set within the nudist lifestyle were not per se obscene. After the fad for nudist films, and the “nudie cutie” sub-genre that grew out of them, died out, Wishman moved into the production of “roughies,” a sexploitation genre with less actual nudity but more violence and kink. She was one of the only women directing such films at the time. Indecent Desires comes from the middle of this period, which lasted roughly from 1965’s Bad Girls Go to Hell to 1970’s The Amazing Transplant.
- Wishman’s 1960s movies were mostly shot without sound. Dialogue was dubbed in later. She often directed longtime cameraman C. Davis Smith to focus the camera on ashtrays, potted plants, or an actress’ feet instead of the person speaking in order to make the sound syncing easier later. This technique initially confused audiences, but later became recognized as a Wishman trademark.
- Like most of her work of this period, Wishman used “Louis Silverman” as her directing pseudonym and “Dawn Whitman” as her writing pseudonym.
- Terri McSorley‘s Staff Pick for a Certified Weird movie.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: The image of the blonde trash can doll superimposed over Ann as she walks to work. This sight is the closest thing to a special effect to ever appear in one of Wishman’s movies.
THREE WEIRD THINGS: Doll-groping transient; Babs makes out with herself; nude leg lifts
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Doris Wishman made sleazy sexploitation movies marked by their strange camerawork, unsynced sound, grimy settings, amateur acting by curvy models in lingerie, odd plots, burlesque house jazz soundtracks, and a weird, pervasive sense of erotic guilt. Indecent Desires features her usual shenanigans delivered in one of her most inexplicable stories: a tale of a symbiotic relationship between a stalker, a doll, and a beautiful woman that is so context-free it serves as a fill-in-the-blank sexual parable. It’s perhaps her strangest and most disconnected plot, which makes it the perfect item to represent Wishman on the List of the Weirdest Movies of all Time.
Short clip from Indecent Desires
COMMENTS: Whatever her filmmaking talents, or lack of same, Continue reading 277. INDECENT DESIRES (1968)