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By Brett Wood

Forbidden Fruit: The Golden Age of the Exploitation movie deals the 1st thorough exam of the exploitation cinema whereas shooting the devious spirit of this renegade movie stream. Abounding with anecdotes, personality sketches and insights, Forbidden Fruit bargains vibrant depictions of exploitation kings and con-men, unique readings of the flicks themselves and the original stretch of yankee historical past that encouraged them.

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Exploitation inherited much of its villain/victim design from Victorian literature and the melodramatic stage, but made its formulaic seductions more visceral through seedy production values and low-caliber performances. The awkward delivery of lines distances these films from the slick invisibility of the CHC, as do the unglamorous appearances of some of the actors. For example, in Guilty Parents the typically suave, tuxedoed cad Al (Lynton Brent) pours champagne not into the rouged lips of a frail, soft-focused, well-coifed starlet, but down the gullet of Betty Wagner (Elen Aristi), a plump, awkward girl with poor posture and blunt features.

Inspired by the social problem dramas then popular on the American stage, these films pursued topics that had been sternly forbidden by the newly founded state censor boards and the National Board of Censorship of Motion Pictures (in 1915, more congenially renamed the National Board of Review), only now they did so in the name of universal health and righteous living. Among the first and most successful of these salacious social conscience films was George Loane Tucker’s Traffic in Souls (1913), which was purportedly based on findings of “the John D.

Temporarily suppressed, the deviant impulse awaited its chance to reappear, which occurred almost immediately. Perhaps the bloody side of the cinema would have politely allowed itself to be assimilated into the socially acceptable mainstream were it The Golden Age of the Exploitation Film 47 A pair of New York cops save a woman from a life of prostitution in the influential 1913 film Traffic in Souls. not for the well-intentioned actions of its innovator, Thomas Edison. In doing his share of rubbing away the cinema’s unsightly tarnish, he involved numerous welfare organizations in the making of special films of moral enlightenment, focusing on such popular issues as the exploitation of child labor (Suffer Little Children...

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