Tom Wolfe’s Wilbur And The Baby Factory opens with its theme song. It’s a groovy little ditty made from equal parts Grateful Dead and Almond Brothers. Here is the opening verse:
“There’s a new race, with a new face
And their smiles are all the same
Mass production and seduction
It’s a super human game
And the breeder of the ruler
Was the man that we should be
At the baby factory”
I don’t know if Wilbur And The Baby Factory is meant to be a salacious sexploitation film or a nightmarish vision of a dystopian future but it is unsettling. It’s sort of Kafka meets Russ Meyer.
It’s very confusing. Wilbur is a healthy young man who spends his time protesting a variety of issues in the street. He is a professional activist with his own protest company. Unknown to him he has been selected as a participant in a covert operation called The Baby Factory. The project people dupe poor Wilbur (I can hear the horse saying his name every time I write it) into becoming a breeding stud. He is contracted to impregnate 2000 women over the course of 2 years, the old-fashioned way. That’s 5.47945 times a day. The .47945 must be annoying. I suppose it gives new meaning to the words “rounding off.” Of course, that only includes one copulation per woman. He most likely would need to copulate an average of two or three times per woman, so that would be more like a dozen times a day. At that rate, I doubt he would have enough little swimmers to properly populate his semen. That would mean he would have even less of a chance of impregnating the young ladies leading to a vicious cycle or a viscus cycle if you prefer.
For a sexploitation picture, Wilbur and The Baby Factory has a lot to say. I’m not sure what it is trying to say, but it is definitely trying to say something. They pack in references to the church, the pill, mass production, overpopulation, scientists, communism, activism, modernism, Naziism, and a bunch of other stuff. There is this weird boss guy, who is dressed in a bright red bathrobe and sits in a wheelchair in a forest. He has created a secret cabal of scientists and maybe businessmen who are genetically engineering a perfect race of future humans. They are kidnapping nubile young men and women and forcing them to breed in some secret mountain base. The old guy in the bathrobe is always complaining about his tiny penis which seems to be his motivation for the entire plan. I’m not sure how eugenics helps his feelings of inadequacy, maybe the promise of a well-hung race of superhumans is a comfort to him.
Some of the scientists speak German which is creepy considering the context, but when Wilbur is undergoing his training we hear Soviet propaganda songs. At least a third of the film is training montages of Wilbur running through the woods. Then of course there are the montages of him trying to fulfill his contract with a never-ending parade of women. It’s Huxley meets Hefner. What a strange dinner that would be.
There is a lot of time spent listening to the scientists and nurses explain how love and intimacy are dead and the mass production of babies is the future. It probably was an attempt at criticizing capitalism and the alienation of modern society which I guess is admirable but they don’t quite pull it off.
As we watch Wilbur work his way through one woman after another he begins to have hallucinations, or perhaps visions of the future, or some kind of mental dissociation but he sees himself as a frantic, sweaty beast maniacally humping his way into insanity. It's never explained what the images are or what they mean but they are blended into the sex scenes which keeps any eroticism at bay.
The whole film is underpinned by one, long, continuous musical jam session. It continues the entire film regardless of what is happening on screen. It doesn’t matter whether we are watching intimacy, a shoot-out, or another scientific presentation its the same continuous free jam. It’s a lot like a Grateful Dead concert where the music rambles pointlessly through pentatonic scales and you just have to sit patiently and hope it will end soon or hope that you get knocked unconscious by an errant tie-dyed Hacky sack.
The film makes attempts at espionage, and plot twists but none of it makes any sense. At one point three men with automatic weapons appear out of the forest wearing rubber monster masks and proceed to mow down a nurse and then run off. There is another man who just runs across the screen with his bloody face in his hands and screams something like “The bastards!” over and over again. It’s never explained who he is or what happened to his face he just comes out of nowhere and leaves without context or explanation.
You can tell there is a story somewhere in Wilbur (whhilburrrrrr) And The Baby Factory but Wolfe does not seem to be able to birth it. I tried to find out more about Wolfe and the movie but there wasn’t much. Of course, Tom Wolfe is a fake name he used just for this film. His real name was Tom McGowan.
I would have dubbed my efforts at research fruitless but thanks to some surfing I stumbled on a very peculiar site. The site is called IMFDB - Internet Movie Firearm Database. It is a site where they have detailed explanations of all the guns used in whatever movie you want to look up. It would be one thing if all they had were well-known films like Full Metal Jacket or John Wick in their database but it must be unbelievably thorough to include a Z-list film like Wilbur And The Baby Factory. They even have individual film stills showing each time a gun appears in each film. I’m not sure what to say about such a database but no one in America should be surprised it exists.
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