This has got to be the most Jewish movie ever made. This movie makes Woody Allen’s films look like nativity plays. The film is called She Should Have Stayed in Bed. Put your two hands in front of you with the palms facing up. Now scrunch your face like you are about to get hit on the head. Now say the title of the film as if you are asking a question. This will hopefully put you in the right frame of mind.
The film may be super Jewy, but it’s inadvertently Jewy. It was written, produced, and directed by a fellah named Barry Mahon, so I’m guessing he was not one of the chosen people. I suppose it’s still possible that he was, you could make plenty of latkes living on the Emerald Isle, but Barry was born in California, where the Hollywood types grow.
Barry thought he was making a cheap nudie cutie when he cobbled together some crappy footage of women taking off their bras, but once you add in the narration, it heads straight to the heart of the Jewish experience. The narrator doesn’t help the story along at all, or add important information, he does one thing and one thing only; he complains. He complains about the movie industry, he complains about women, he complains about the movie we are watching, he complains about scriptwriters, he complains about the state of the world today, he complains about everything.
Let me provide a sample. On screen is a buxom young lady in her lacy black underwear. She enters an office, looks around, finds a book, and then sits down at the desk to read. While she reads, she removes her bra and begins posing. While we watch this titillation unfold, the narrator says, “It looks like she wants to be some kind of model or something. Isn’t there anyone in this place that holds down an everyday job? I’ll bet none of them ever did a full day’s honest work. If they had half the worries I do… calling the crew, calling the actors, arranging for lunch, checking the wardrobe. These girls don’t know what it is to have problems.”
When Barry isn’t complaining, he is nagging poor Charlie the cameraman. Barry tells him he is shooting the wrong thing or that he’s in the wrong place. We never get to hear from Charlie, the poor smuck. Hey! What is this? Autocorrect doesn’t have “schmuck” in its dictionary. Get me the Jewish space laser on the phone!
Anyway, the film is pretty simple. The camera peeks in on a variety of young ladies’ apartments and watches them undress for the shower, or undress for a photographer, or try to wiggle their way into a corset. It’s standard nudie cutie fare. To escape the wrath of the censors, a nudie cutie shows lots of naked ladies, but never any sex.
There are two subplots, assuming there is a plot to be subbed from. The first is announced disparagingly by the narrator, “The whole story is about the actor you see up there on the screen chasing that dame.” Periodically throughout the film, we cut back to the two of them sneaking around the hallway. At one point, the narrator comments, "Back and forth down the halls. Anyone can shoot this stuff.”
The second subplot is a sophisticated piece of highly cerebral humor, see if you can follow along. There is a guy in a chef’s hat trying to deliver a fancy wedding cake. He walks through the halls, but keeps tripping over himself and getting his face smushed in the icing. We revisit his Sisyphean task throughout the film, and let me tell you, it just gets funnier every time. I mean the guy just can’t keep from getting a face full of cake!
Then, in the middle of everything, the film turns surreal for five minutes before returning to normal. I don’t know what the hell happened, but all of a sudden we are watching a woman undressing a babydoll while she is watched through the window by a man who is also undressing a babydoll. The woman tries to change the little doll’s outfit, but the woman’s own clothing keeps disappearing and reappearing. Finally, she notices the man across the street watching her and closes the blinds. That’s it, no explanation, just a moment of surrealism and then back to complaining.
The overall effect of the film is the depiction of some kind of psycho-sexual mother complex. The narrator is overwhelmed by all these naked women and can’t stop complaining, as if he is trying to keep the lust they inspire at bay. It’s as if his mother and the wrathful God of the Old Testament threaten to destroy him if he touches his schmeckle (no, not "pickle", you goddamn, antisemitic autocorrect, "schmeckle"!)
Anyway, the guy who is chasing the girl turns out to be a photographer who wants to ask the woman to model for him, which ends that subplot and the film. It just ends. It’s as though Barry got so exasperated, he just threw his hands up and walked out of the editing booth.
Barry made She Should Have Stayed in Bed in 1963, and he did indeed get in trouble with the censors. The rule was that nudity had to be shown only in the non-sexual context of everyday activities. Barry’s movie was seen as too close to voyeurism, and so was rejected by The New York Censorship Board. I can’t begin to understand the logic of any of this, but a few years later, in 1968, the whole censorship board would be dismantled, giving way to a wave of hardcore pornography that would wash away almost all memory of the nudie cutie and Barry.
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