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It’s the Gone With the Wind of nudist movies!
Jay Randolph Latimore (R. G. ARMSTRONG) is a hard-bitten old grouch (supposedly wealthy but the cheesiest set in the flick is his alleged “mansion”) who drives his lovely widowed daughter-in-law (JAMIE O’HARA) and painfully cute granddaughter out of the house... and inadvertently into the open arms (and naked torsos) of the Garden of Eden nudist camp!
Outraged, Latimore then tries to have his newly-nudist daughter-in-law found an unfit mother. Do you think he’ll succeed?
The director and co-screenwriter is MAX NOSSECK, a respectable Hollywood “B” movie helmer with several respected film noirs to his credit, notably the Lawrence Tierney toughies, Dillinger and The Hoodlum, but also family movies like Black Beauty and The Return of Rin Tin Tin! It’s also downright strange seeing a nudist camp film starring familiar Hollywood faces like Sam Peckinpah regular Mr. Armstrong (Ride the High Country) and movie-TV bad guy ARCH JOHNSON (G.I. Blues).
Far heavier with plot than virtually any other example in the genre, Garden of Eden features a gorgeous leading lady (Miss O’Hara), a hunky hero (MICKEY KNOX), lush everglades photography, an elaborate romantic dream sequence... and it’s still every bit as dumb as you would expect any self-respecting nudist movie to be!
But since this was also the first major nudist camp feature made since the thirties, Garden of Eden was eagerly pounced upon by the New York censors who deemed the nude scenes “indecent” and banned its showing. Producer WALTER BIBO fought back and, surprisingly, the decision was overturned by The New York Court of Appeals which not only allowed the film to be exhibited (“Nothing sexually impure is shown or suggested… and so there is no legal basis for censorship!”) but, not coincidentally, helped open the floodgates for the glut of unclothed cuties that would eventually run amok on American screens. (Yahoo!) However, by the time the case was settled, New York was absolutely flooded with nudist camp movies and poor Mr. Bibo’s ground-breaking epic had to settle for a dingy little playdate on 42nd Street. Fate, apparently, is fully clothed.
From the original 35mm they-wear-only-the-wind negative. -- Max Collins, Carnal Hours
Mickey KnoxOther cast:
R.G. Armstrong, Karen Sue TrentDirected by: