|The Movie World of Harrison Marks|
|NAKED AS NATURE INTENDED (1961)|
Harrison Marks had been making 8mm films for the home movie market since 1959. At the beginning of 1961, aware of the success of Kamera and knowing of Harrison Marks experience in the home movie business, Tony Tenser and Michael Klinger, a good friend of Harrison Marks and owner of the famous Gargoyle Club in Soho, approached Harrison Marks about making a feature film. Tony and Michael had formed Compton Films a couple of years before, which ran the Compton Cinema Club in Old Compton Street, showing films that didnít get past the censor for public showing. It was all perfectly legal and above board. In fact, Tony Tenser recalls that John Trevelyan, the Head of the British Board of Films Censors at that time, was a member and regular visitor to the club. Tony and Michael had also established Compton Film Distributors and were also involved in Compton Cameo Films Ltd., which ran a small group of West End Cinemas including the Cameo Poly in Regent Street and the Cameo Moulin in Windmill Street next to Piccadilly Circus.
There was a market for what they then called "nudie" films in the late fifties and early sixties. Today they wouldn't raise an eyelid all they showed was 'tits and bums'. They wanted Harrison Marks to make a film that showed naked girls. No British film release had ever shown a naked woman at that time. The only way to get a film with naked females in it past the censor in 1960 was to make a film about Naturists. It would, therefore, have to be about nudists and a nudist camp.
Harrison Marks was very keen to make the film so a synopsis was prepared and the working title of the film was to be 'Cornish Holiday'. Compton Film Distributors, of course, were to be the Distributors. The Production Company was Compass Films with John Brason as Production Manager. The Lighting Cameraman was Roy Pointer and Douglas Webb, Pamela Greens first commercial photographer, was booked to do the stills photography. Harrison Marks would, of course, be the director.
The story centred around three young women who were friends setting off from London for a holiday in Cornwall by car. The main character, who is played by Pamela Green, is a dancer. Her two friends, flatmate Petrina, who works in an office and Jacki, who works in a shoe shop, are played by Petrina Forsyte and model Jackie Salt. At the same time two other girls, who Pamela and friends don't know at the time, are setting off for the same destination on foot. These two are members of a nudist camp that owns a private section of a secluded beach in north Cornwall. The two nudist girls are played by models Bridget Leonard and Angela Jones. Also in the cast is Stuart Samuels who plays a number of costume characters including the peek-capped, uniformed guide at Stone Henge, a fisherman on the Quay at Clovelly, a Shakespearean actor at the Minack Theatre, a sailor in the boat sequence and a waiter in the swimming pool sequence.
The film follows both sets of girls as they travel to the west country from London stopping at beauty spots on the way, including Stone Henge, Clovelly, Tintagel, the Minack Open Air Theatre and Lands End. The two groups cross paths several times along the way without meeting. Then they arrive at their destination a golden sandy beach with rock pools set below steep cliffs on the north Cornish coast east of Newquay. The beach is deserted apart from the girls. While exploring the beach Pamela is startled to come across the nudist girls, but after a discussion on the pros and cons of nudism with them, she and the other girls are converted and take off their bikinis to play beach ball in the sun together.
By todays standards the plot is very tame. In 1961, it was all a film maker could get away with if he wanted a public performance certificate. The nude sequences, with bare breasts and bottoms, but with pubes discretely covered by a towel over the arm for close-up shots, occupy the last 25 minutes of the 60 minute film and include a tour of the nudist camp where they meet other members.
The film had not only to be completed on a small budget but it had a very tight schedule. Shooting started in the second week of September 1961 at Stone Henge. Here the three girls, dressed in slacks, explore the megaliths. When they get to the Minack Theatre at Porthcurno on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic they are dressed in summer frocks with short, bellowing skirts and petticoats. Its windy and the skirts blow up. This gave Harrison Marks' the inspiration to get some shots for the film giving a glimpse of bare thigh and knickers. Other scenes shot included Pamela stopping on the way back to the top of the cliff with her skirt blowing up around her waist to reveal the g-string she was wearing. When the film reached the censor, he had different ideas and both scenes had to be cut, as did another scene of Jackie being rubbed down by her two friends after shed fallen overboard in the boat sequence that had been filmed a few days later.
Location shooting in Cornwall took two weeks. After a weeks break shooting began at the next location, Spielplatz Nudist Camp in St. Albans. A handsome male actor had been chosen to play the part of the young man showing the girls around the camp but the other bodies that come into shot are all genuine members of the club.
Studio work was shot in a studio in the West End and in true movie style the opening sequences were done last - Petrina in the office where she worked and Jackie in the shoe shop. A beach scene was also shot in the studio.
Another indoor sequence had been filmed which was to have been the opening scene of the film after the location titles. In the story Pam and Petrina share a flat. The opening shot was to show the two of them in their flat the night before they leave for their holiday. Pamela was filmed coming out of the shower, naked but wrapped in a bath towel, and walking into the lounge where Petrina sits, legs together on the floor, in a baby-doll nighty. The two girls are shown looking at map of Cornwall and discussing the route they would take. Pamela, keeping herself completely covered, sits in a chair that stands by Petrinas side and the two of them look at the map book. The censors had the entire scene cut because the two girls sharing a flat might be viewed as lesbians. There was no suggestion whatsoever in the film that any of the characters were lesbians. It gives you an idea of just how finicky and out of touch the censor could be in those days. Just two years later they gave a certificate to The Servant where the overriding tone of homosexuality between the two male characters was blatant. Until 1951 homosexual acts, even between consenting men in private, had been a criminal offence. Homosexual acts between women have never been illegal.
Shooting of Naked As Nature Intended, as the film was finally titled, was completed during October and post-production work ended in November. The first Harrison Marks feature length movie was given an X certificate and was ready to be premiered. In December 1961 the film opened at the Cameo Moulin in Great Windmill Street. There hadnt been either the time or the budget for any major publicity. Despite this there were queues of people waiting for the doors to open. So much so that the police had to be called to cordon off the street. The film ran continuously at the cinema for the next 15 months.
Harrison Marks, with the sweet smell of success in his nostrils, now had the movie bug in his blood. Plans went ahead immediately for his next movie. This was not to be a nudie and was no feature film. The Chimney Sweeps was a straight, short comedy for children. The ham in Harrison Marks was coming out again. Variety theatre still coursed through his veins and slapstick comedy was a big part of it. This time he was not only to be the director but the producer, the scriptwriter and the star as well. The film ran as a B movie. He subsequently made another five short comedy films including Uncles Tea Party, Defective Detectives, High Diddle Fiddle, Dizzy Decorators and Musical Maniacs. All of these titles had Stuart Samuels as the co-star and Pamela Green, in clothes, appeared in some of them. The routines were based, Harrison Marks claimed, on acts that he and Stuart had developed on the music hall circuit in the forties.
A year or so after Naked as Nature Intended another nudie film was shot for Compton Films, called My Bare Lady for the America market. It was never released in Britain.
The next big movie was to be The World of Harrison Marks . . . .