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Cult Epics presents
American Nudes: Volume II (1950-1959)

"Volume two features a compilation of short soft core films from the 1950s starring wrestling women and exotic girls, both outdoors and in the home."
- backcover blurb

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: July 29, 2008

Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity)
Run Time: 01h:04m:53s
Release Date: July 29, 2008
UPC: 881190006498
Genre: cult

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Cult Epics continues their specialized 16mm history lesson of vintage erotica with the hip kinky of American Nudes: Volume II, a 65-minute collection of 11 short nudie films from the 1950s. Unlike the relatively tame and voyeuristic American Nudes: Volume I—which highlighted the 1940s—Volume II jumps up a decade, and the sizzle of the content reflects a definite air of moral boundary pushing by the filmmakers. It remains all about the nudity, but the women are clearly selling sex, as opposed to just watering plants or playing baseball (as in Volume I).

Those she's absent here, Bettie Page fans will appreciate a couple of shorts from legendary genre icon Irving Klaw, including a sampling from his popular girls-in-lingerie wrestling series (ironically nudity-free), which opens Volume II. These serve as kind of a transition from the comparative innocence of Volume I, holding off on any skin but suggesting that the times have certainly changed a little, and that hot chicks in underwear wrestling was a harbinger of the new unspoken 1950s seamy underbelly. It's vintage kink, and Klaw was nothing if not prolific.

By the time the first nudity shows up on Volume II—at almost 11 minutes in—it's clear we've moved on from just peeping. We're given a large-breasted woman with lots of eyeliner and wild hair, rolling around suggestively on a bed, and from then on the stakes have changed. This isn't about nudity, it's about sex. Even the implied voyeur naivete of the woman casually reading Motion Pictures. magazine quickly shifts to a sexy strip, revealing leopard skin unmentionables. Maybe it was just a sign of the times, but Volume II really enhances the suggestive naughty.

The awkward funny of those frolic-naked 1940s shorts is replaced here by a more pronounced coating of sex, though these 11 films do not feature anything more than skin. Though tame by today's standards, these 1950s nudies still carry their own level of inherent sexiness, even if the film elements themselves are in less than pristine condition. Perhaps that only adds to the forbidden attraction.

Unlike Volume I—which featured the campy and suggestive titles for its shorts—this release offers up no titles at all.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The shorts gathered here are all presented in 1.33:1 fullframe, and as with Volume I the quality varies greatly. But these pre-grindhouse 16mm reels are probably lucky to be around at all, so aficionados should be able to overlook the flaws. Plenty of vertical lines, nicks and scratches, but somehow that just makes the sexy content seem all the more historically engaging somehow. Image clarity fluctuates, moving from very soft to not so fuzzy, with none of the shorts looking particularly razor sharp.

Tolerable, but far from pristine.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: All 11 short films feature a mostly new "jazz bop soundtrack", presented in 2.0 stereo. Nitpicking on the audio seems kind of pointless, as the allure here is the nekkidness, though the anonymous squonking and peppy beats gives the whole thing that proper throwback texture.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 11 cues and remote access
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: As with Volume I, this release is barren of supplements, with the disc split into 11 chapters, 1 per film.

Extras Grade: F


Final Comments

Volume II ratchets up the vintage sexy over Volume I by more than few notches, as these 11 1950s shorts become much more blatant in being overtly sexual, as opposed to being just voyeuristic.

Yet like Volume I, this is a distinctly speciality title. If you have a penchant for Bettie Page-era erotica (there are even a few Irving Klaw productions represented here), well then this is for you.



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