Journey with us on a tour of San Francisco, with its tall buildings, the Golden Gate Bridge, its churches and temples and its trams carrying the citizens around its busy streets. All in the company of a naked woman driving her car along the roads as she surveys the city's sights. And why are we here in San Francisco? Because it is home to a very important innovation in entertainment, that's why. Yes, this city is where the craze for topless dancing began, a craze that has caught on throughout the world and will be examined in this film.
When legendary film writer/director Russ Meyer made Mondo Topless, he wasn't doing too well financially, and so this step backwards to the nudie movies he had made from The Immoral Mr Teas onwards was just the thing, he hoped, to revive his career. It really is nothing more than a selection of topless women dancing, little better than a nudist movie of the nineteen-fifties, but with non-descript rock and roll music (courtesy of the Aladdins) blaring and some frequently hilarious over-the-top narration read by John Furlong.
The presentation of the ladies is mostly to feature them outdoors, gyrating wildly to the nearby radio or tape player or simply running through forests and countryside, all in the typical fashion of a healthy lifestyle, back to nature nudist film. As this is a mondo movie, there's a nod to the international scene with footage from Meyer's own "documentary" Europe in the Raw, basically various strippers on a stage performing their act, and as the narrator tells us, hailing from all over the Europe, from France to Belgium and Germany, just to illustrate how far the phenomenon has grown.
As that narrator implores us to try to concentrate on what they're saying, we're also treated to the thoughts of the performers in voiceover. These are pretty unilluminating, with titbits on how difficult it is to buy dresses when you have enormous breasts, or on why women's reaction to topless dancing is more sensible than men's, or even what kind of men they prefer. It's not as if anyone was watching this film to learn what was going on in the dancer's heads anyway, and it all seems to be a sop to the supposed documentary status of the movie.
Despite the variety of women on display and the vivaciousness of the exhibition, Mondo Topless can't help but turn repetitive after a while. Meyer tries to inject novelty into the proceedings, with, for example, writhing in mud as a change of pace, or a lesson in skin diving, actually two naked women in a swimming pool with one filming the other with an underwater camera. And while some of the shots are artistically striking (no, really), showing the director's visual imagination as well as his overwhelming fetish, there isn't enough here to sustain a whole feature, even one which lasts just one hour. But if you like breasts and sixties go-go dancing, then here's the perfect combination of your interests.
American director and one of the most notable cult filmmakers of the 60s and 70s. Meyer worked as a newsreel cameraman during World War II, before becoming a photographer. In 1959, his work for Playboy led to his first film – the hugely successful ‘nudie’ feature The Immoral Mr Teas. Other soft-core features followed before Meyer moved to a series of trashy, thrilling B-movies – Mudhoney, Motor Psycho and Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! – that combined the two elements – incredibly voluptuous women and graphic violence – that would become Meyer’s trademark.