Corman & Cocktails


This weekend’s feature presentation was none other than Swamp Women (1955), which marks Roger Corman’s directorial debut. All the signature Corman features were there: the liberal use of stock footage (a dismal Mardi Gras parade, very low on drunkenness and nakidity) and alligators (eek!) and rattlesnakes (ditto!); continuity errors ignored; and lots of leg and heaving bosoms.

The plot-let is that a policewoman goes undercover as a prisoner in an attempt to find some stolen diamonds which were hidden in a nearby swamp (the film boasts that it was filmed entirely on location in an actual Louisiana swamp, stock footage notwithstanding). Policewoman pals up with the diamond-hidin’ chicks in prison. They take to her so immediately that they break out of the big house on what appears to be the very same night. Good thing that the felonious femmes had already cut through the bars on the window, but hadn’t yet escaped.

The rest of the movie is the search for the diamonds in a tiny boat which never runs out of gas, kidnapping an oil baron and his oil-digging wannabe girlfriend, how to make your own very short shorts, lots of gunfire, and fighting over diamonds and the oil baron before justice prevails.

The cast includes Marie Windsor, former Miss Utah and model for Alberto Vargas of pin-up fame, and another former beauty queen, Carole Mathews (Miss Chicago 1938) and dancer in Earl Carroll’s Vanities, a predecessor to the famous Ziegfeld Follies. Carroll was the first to present full nudity on the Broadway stage, though I don’t know if Carol was one of Carroll’s nudistes.

Mike Connors of Mannix fame played the oil baron, billed as “Touch” Connors. Like John “Cougar” Mellencamp, Connors soon ditched the silly nickname. Unlike Mellencamp, Connors had the excuse that a lot of actors were using that kind of name at the time (Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, etc.).

Accompanying cocktail was, appropriately enough, the Ruby Rita (tequila, pink grapefruit juice, Cointreau – woo!), from the Pink Cocktail book my fabulous niece gave her aged auntie for her birthday. Since aged auntie has probably been an Awful Warning all of niece’s life, I’m sure she wasn’t surprised that it was three weeks before she got a thank-you email, when it was about three hours before the gift was put to good use. Sorry, petal!

*A friend of mine has a former beauty queen in her family. She was Miss Small Town several years ago, but she still wears her tiara to family gatherings like Thanksgiving.