Shocking cinéma vérité, but not for the reasons you think
Little did I know that before gracing my TV in the wee hours of the night, years before I ever graced the Earth, Funt had made a film with this very same concept, the quite literally-named What Do You Say to a Naked Lady? But once I knew, I had to see it, to revisit those memories of yesteryear, and to see where it all started. Yet, surprisingly, this would not turn out to be just some dirty little treasure hunt. Instead, Funt managed to take his interest in the human condition and the reality of how we act when we think no one is looking, and take it to its natural extreme, exploring the most basic part of human life, namely sex. Forcing people to confront an uncomfortable blend of sexuality and public life in front of his camera, he had a perfect draw to put people in the seats.
Allen Funt was added simply to allow us to show this picture, which is hilarious to me. He does not appear in this scene in this way, - FR
Things get started with really simple set-ups, like a man waiting for an elevator being confronted by a naked woman when the doors open, or a nude hitchhiker. These are amusing, as the reactions can be great fun, however Funt isn't content with just putting naked women (and men) in front of people and seeing what happens. He continues on, conducting interviews about sex with the young, old and everyone in between, acting like a sociologist with a camera. There are some intriguing experiments, like putting men in a room with four other guys to see how far they will go to fit in, when the other four start stripping without explanation. He also conducts several interviews as well, chatting with a sexually-open woman, teens who brag about their bedroom exploits and (through an intermediary) a bisexual man. Honestly, these more intellectual material ends up more memorable than that based around nudity (though there's plenty to enjoy there as well, including a nude male model who attempts to make women feel uncomfortable with his "presence.")
None of the scenes are as unforgettable though as the two scenes for which WTF was invented far too late. One features Funt as an info-desk worker who asks people what they think when an interracial couple kiss nearby. I'm not naive enough to act like racism doesn't exist or wasn't much worse back in the day, but to see it expressed so freely a) is really disturbing and b) points out how different the world is today (where we keep our racism close to the vest.) The other WTF moment comes courtesy of jingle superstar Steve Karmen, who acts as a musical narrator, throwing in a number of silly songs relating to the scenes. None of them though, are as out there as the old-timey song that accompanies a section titled "A Few Thoughts About Rape." Strap in, kids...this one's a doozy. Here are a few choice lines:
"Rape...is not as easy as it looks,Is it supposed to be sarcastic or ironic? No clue, especially when there's no explanation of the footage it goes with, including men leering at women, a man attempting to rape a woman on a bed with a camera crew or a little person pretending to be a doll in a toy store. Seriously...WTF?
In one of the more creative, meta elements of the film, Funt screened the scenes for a private audience, featuring a number of older, highly-opinionated immigrant women, along with a few younger folk, and then braided their reactions into the film. Combine these scenes of old ladies complaining about the film with an old woman trying to separate "dirty" and "clean" words and scenes contrasting how a group of older women and a class of young people react to a nude professor, and it is pretty obvious that Funt is making a point about the generation gap, a major issue of the late '60s, which is part of why the film is such a product of its time. It would be great to have someone try this again and see how things change, but one expects, following Sacha Baron Cohen's exploits, that the lawsuits would prevent us from ever seeing the results.
Though the visuals may be a bit of an eye-opener, the audio isn't going to surprise anyone, with a very straightforward Dolby Digital 2.0 track that gives you nothing to complain about, as the sound stays clear and distortion-free, especially when it comes to Kamden's melodic music. But don't expect any kind of mixing in this center-focused delivery, nor should you. It's not that kind of movie.
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