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  Wilbur and the Baby Factory Go Forth And Multiply
Year: 1970
Director: Tom McGowan
Stars: Peter Ford, Keith McConnell, Larisa Schubert, Stuart Lancaster, Elizabeth Knowles, Patrick M. Legrand, Catherine Phillippe, James Anthony, Sue Silla, Frank Belt, Edward Murphy, Larry Verdugo, Candy Nash, Lewis Clark, Shelley Mynatt, Ronee Blakley
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Thriller, Trash, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Wilbur Steele (Peter Ford, under the name Jack Shea) works as an activist, assisting people in trouble under the tutelage of his boss who also fancies himself as a ladies' fashion designer when he's not arranging protests or organising others' lives. Wilbur is an academic sort of chap, but he does feel for those he works for, and has caught the attention of Flip (Shelley Mynatt) who would like to be his girlfriend, as he doesn't have one at the moment. When he hears the bad news that he has been drafted to fight in the war in Vietnam, she decides to make his last day before he enters the services memorable by servicing Wilbur herself, so heads over to the tent he calls home to cheer him up...

You're thinking this is going to be one of those sensitive dramas about young men caught up in the sheer hell of the Vietnam War, aren't you? It certainly begins that way, but it after fifteen minutes it's hared off in its own direction, one indicated by the opening narration which informs us this will help us make up our mind about this pressing issue. But not the issue of the conflict, nope, the issue of the population explosion is the worry here, which may sound quaint from the twenty-first century perspective when there are more billions of individuals in the world than there were back in 1970 when this was released. But the method this goes about raising consciousness is eccentric, to say the least, and in light of its conclusion of absolutely no worth whatsoever.

Wilbur is stopped on his way to the draft office by an offer that sounds a lot more survivable than anything in East Asia right then, though the precise details are not entirely clear when he opts to go for it. He signs the contract, and before he knows what has happened he has lost control of his life for the next two years as he must do exactly what is ordered by his new masters. He may not be aware of what is going on, but we do thanks to a scene with Russ Meyer staple Stuart Lancaster who plays an elderly millionaire who has decided from his now wasted body that he will orchestrate his last gift to mankind: wiping most us out and replacing us with a master race on his own orders and design (with help from mad scientist Keith McConnell).

Pausing briefly not only to note that this magnate has a penis "the size of a peanut" but also that he plans to have it preserved and put on display after his death - thanks for that - we then watch Wilbur put through his paces by the shadowy organisation now pulling his strings, yet also inserts of his predecessor in the job who is having sex with countless young women under laboratory conditions and turning completely insane in the process. Will this happen to Wilbur? Once he has been ascertained to be healthy, he's ready for the same treatment, and the message we're presumably meant to take away is that many a man might think being ordered to shag their way through two thousand attractive ladies is a dream occupation, but in fact it would send you quite mad.

Go back to that narration at the beginning: have you made up your mind on genetic engineering yet? More importantly, have you seen anything in this which has you convinced that writer and director Tom McGowan (oddly using the pseudonym Tom Wolfe - did he hope he'd be mistaken for the journalist?) actually had any idea what genetic engineering is? What unfolds here is so far removed from reality that some have declared it a comedy, except there's very little funny about any of it, and all indications are that it was a combination of softcore sci-fi (exploitation producer Harry Novak put up the budget) and message movie which would mean nothing to anyone other than McGowan. You could pause briefly to note the leading man was Glenn Ford's son, breaking off from television appearances to show up here, so why the nom de guerre? But in the main this was a confounding piece with no value other than to the students of the kind of lunacy the counterculture would throw up during the oppression of the Vietnam era in America, otherwise hard to recommend. Folk rock by Michael Terr.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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