Lewd LooksAmerican Sexploitation Cinema in the 1960s

Lewd LooksAmerican Sexploitation Cinema in the 1960s

Elena Gorfinkel

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9781517900175

Publisher: University of Minnesota Press


Lewd Looks: American Sexploitation’s Cinema Scenes of Looking examines the efflorescence of American sexploitation films in the United States in the years between 1960 and 1972. Approximately hundreds, if not close to a thousand of such films were made in the 1960s, yet no scholarly book exists on the subject. Employing nudity but soft-core and melodramatic in tone, sexploitation films were preoccupied with the conditions of looking at exposed female flesh, conditions that they also archive and document. Defined by their low-budgets, crude mise-en-scène, and an unswerving focus on a fantastically unfettered female sexuality, sexploitation films resembled lurid pulp novels and erotic tabloids, setting the stage for the emergence of the hard-core porn film in the early 1970s with their illicit, if comparably chaste views. This book examines how the 1960s sexploitation film reconfigured the sexualized body onscreen by presenting a dialectics of indulgence and circumspection, tease and subterfuge. Gorfinkel draws on archival research and close analysis to explore sexploitation films’ regulation, reception, and strategies of sexual representation. The book reveals how sixties sexploitation films possessed a “circumstantial reflexivity,” thematizing their own conditions of reception, impacted by anxieties surrounding American film spectatorship and erotic consumption in this period.