The Long Wait for McLintock!

One indication of the perceived importance of a movie spanking scene is the number of pictures the studio photographers troubled to take of it, both during the making of the film and afterwards in the publicity shoot. For all their especial interest to us, most such scenes are relatively minor incidents in the overall development of the plot, and they don’t rate heavy coverage for publicity purposes. If the publicity department recognized the scene’s individual appeal, there might be three or four photos available, but – in an era when photography was a slower, more complicated business than the ‘point and click’ digital world of today – they would only spend longer on one particular scene if it was deemed especially momentous.

That’s why at least seven pictures were taken of the spanking in Look for the Silver Lining: it marks a major turning point in the life and career of the central character. And when the spanking is the climax of the story, the payoff everyone’s waiting for… Well, count ’em:

010203040527 McLintock28 McLintock29 McLintock30 McLintock1011121314151617

Everyone had perhaps been waiting a lot longer for this than the roughly two hours McLintock! runs before it reaches the second, climactic spanking scene with Maureen O’Hara. It was something audiences had arguably been waiting more than a decade to see…

For a purist like me, the fact is that Maureen O’Hara was spanked, in the strictest sense of the word, in only one film, which was made in 1963, and McLintock! was that film. So what are we to make of this statement in Edith Kermit Roosevelt’s August 1952 article on the recent screen spanking spate?

‘Poor Maureen O’Hara. There’s hardly been a film in the last two years where she hasn’t been spanked.’

The following April, Maureen gave an interview to the legendary gossip columnist Sheilah Graham, whose write-up stated:

‘Miss O’Hara has been roundly and soundly spanked in awkward places by such stalwarts as Errol Flynn, Macdonald Carey, Jeff Chandler and others of similar heavy-handed stature.’

So let’s investigate this a little. Maureen’s film with Errol Flynn was Against All Flags, which was released in February 1953, a few months before the interview. Flynn plays Hawke, an English officer sent undercover to infiltrate a pirate colony on Madagascar. Miss O’Hara is one of the pirates,

against-all-flags

‘Spitfire’ Stevens, whose nickname helps to indicate the kind of romantic relationship that’s going to develop between them: she refuses his advances, then makes advances of her own and gets offended when he in turn appears less eager than both of them obviously feel.

She gets even more offended when he goes on a pirate mission that results in the capture of a shipload of young Indian ladies – rather pale young Indian ladies, it must be said – and also some heroic life-saving: Hawke rescues their Princess from a fiery death after the pirates, having seized the booty, decide to burn and sink the ship on which she’s still hiding. The Princess duly falls for him and spends the rest of the movie airheadedly asking him to kiss her. All the captured women are auctioned as prospective pirate wives, and Hawke bids for the Princess – not, in fact, because he wants to marry her, but to keep her out of dastardly pirate clutches lest her royal father should take reprisals against the English in India. Spitfire gets the wrong idea and outbids him in order to ensure that he remains a bachelor.

Feeling like a woman scorned, she decides to give up on her life of piracy and offers Hawke her ship if, in return, he will take her to Brazil, after which he can go off pirating until he’s eventually hanged for it (an event she says she looks forward to witnessing). The conversation leads up to this exchange:

SPITFIRE: I can defend my own self-respect, and if any man dares to damage it, I’ll shoot the eyes out of his head. Both of them, Brian Hawke, both of them!

HAWKE: I’ll accept the venture, ma’am, but I’m warning you: you draw one more pistol, and you’re going to find yourself across my knee.

Hawke indicates where Spitfire is going to find herself: across his knee!

Hawke indicates where Spitfire is going to find herself: across his knee!

A spanking threat in a film script may be the equivalent of showing a loaded gun: something that, in principle, you don’t do unless you plan to show it going off later. The trouble is, it may alternatively be just a cute bit of friction on the rocky road of romance, and in the case of Hawke and Spitfire, that seems to be the case: there’s no obvious moment later in the film when the metaphorical gun might go off, or, to return to the literal, when the pistol might be drawn and the spitfire spanked.

Maybe there was a deleted or alternative sequence in which that happened, but if so, it was cut out a second time when the screenplay was remade, only lightly adapted, as The King’s Pirate (1967), with Flynn and O’Hara’s roles, complete with spanking threat, taken by Doug McClure and Jill St John. There was one welcome change in the remake: whereas Flynn carried the Princess to safety decorously in his arms, Doug McClure was rougher, not only slinging Mary Ann Mobley over his shoulder but also smacking her bottom as he went!

So the fact is that Maureen O’Hara was not spanked by Errol Flynn on screen in Against All Flags, and was probably not spanked in a scene that ended up on the cutting room floor. Sheilah Graham’s statement to the contrary is hard to account for, except as the outcome of a process of Chinese whispers that somehow turned words into actions, a mere threat into an actual spanking.

That sort of explanation starts to wear a little thin when we turn to Maureen’s film with Macdonald Carey, Comanche Territory (1950), in which he plays legendary Western hero Jim Bowie and she is fiery Irish beauty Katie Howard.

comanche-territory

When he rides into the town of Crooked Tongue, he accidentally causes her to lose a bet. She takes this badly and draws a gun on him, but he refuses to draw his own. ‘Sorry, ma’am,’ he tells her. ‘Back in Louisiana, when we meet any pretty ladies, we make love to ’em, we kiss ’em, spank ’em on occasion, but we never go around shooting ’em.’

He goes to the local bank to deposit a draft, and discovers that Katie owns the bank. She refuses to honor the draft, seems pleased when he tells her that means he’s effectively broke, and finally insults the State of Louisiana. Whereupon he tells her:

‘I’ve done a lot of things in my life, but I’ve never had a bank president across my knee for a good spanking. That’s a pleasure I shall look forward to.’

Maybe we can look forward to it too?

comanche-territory-4

At this point, let’s introduce three other contemporary witnesses to reinforce what Sheilah Graham said. A 1950 press review described the character of Katie as ‘an early 1800s sagebrush hoyden who, with enthusiasm, smokes a pipe, gets spanked by her leading man and horsewhips a troublemaker’. The following year, another journalist, writing about the next film on our agenda, began developing the theme that Maureen O’Hara was having a run of bad luck in the sore bottom department: ‘Just one year ago, Maureen received a spanking at the hands of leading man Macdonald Carey in Comanche Territory.’ And in 1952, Edith Kermit Roosevelt offered this vivid description of one of the many recent films in which, according to her, the actress had been spanked:

‘Macdonald Carey used these caveman tactics in Comanche Territory. Maureen was a bit temperamental. She had a habit of slashing her beaus with a horsewhip. Mac took the red-haired Irish beauty across his buckskin lap and gave her a paddling.’

Back to the film now, where the scene is a barroom brawl involving both Katie and Bowie. In the course of it, she finds herself with her head stuck under a table, and calls for someone to get her out. ‘I promised myself this pleasure, Miss Bank President,’ says Bowie – and kicks her in the rear twice.

comanche-territory-1comanche-territory-2

Well, no, you didn’t promise yourself that pleasure, Mr Bowie. And according to four reporters, at least one of whom had surely seen the film, the pleasure he did anticipate did come to pass. Given the way the relationship between the two characters develops, it could only be in the brawl scene. So are we dealing with journalists whose command of the English language was so tenuous that they thought kicking a lady in the ass can be properly described as spanking her? Did they doze off during that part of the picture and infer what had happened from the earlier threat? Or did they see an alternate version of the film in which, instead of winding up beneath the table, Katie lands across Bowie’s knee?

A few scraps of context might support that last possibility. Comanche Territory was made by some of the same personnel who were responsible for Cave of Outlaws the following year, in which, as we recently saw, there is also a slight possibility that a spanking scene was filmed but removed from the final edit. Of course, two mutually reinforcing hypotheses don’t constitute evidence, but we’re on slightly more solid ground when we notice that the author of Comanche Territory was Oscar Brodney, whose other screenplays included She Wrote the Book (1946)…

she-wrote-the-book

and Captain Lightfoot (1955):

captain-lightfoot

A spanking threat might be consistent with his track record, but an actual spanking scene would be even more so…

But for something coming just a little closer to solidity, let’s turn to the third movie mentioned by Sheilah Graham, the one costarring Jeff Chandler: Flame of Araby (1951). It’s an ‘Eastern’, set in a version of Tunisia that looks remarkably like California. Jeff Chandler plays Tamerlane, a Bedouin chief who starts the movie on a quest to trap a fabled wild black stallion. He loses the horse when a young lady named Tanya (guess who?) gets caught up in the stampede and he feels obliged to rescue her instead. She tells him that he will be richly rewarded for saving her life.

flame-of-araby-01

‘It is you who will be richly rewarded,’ he retorts, then dismounts, bends her over and gives her three flicks across the bottom with his whip.

flame-of-araby

Now, you’ll infer from what I said earlier that I don’t count that as, strictly speaking, a spanking. Maybe I’m just disappointed because, when I first heard that the film featured a scene in which Maureen O’Hara, in Arabian Nights costume, was spanked, I imagined something more like this:

casbah05casbah07casbah10

(That’s Gloria Grahame being spanked by Turhan Bey in Prisoners of the Casbah, 1953.)

Maybe I’m onto a loser there, considering the aftermath that resonates down the film. ‘After the courting,’ remarks one of Tamerlane’s men, ‘she’ll have little mind to sit on a horse, master.’ But he graciously declines to deprive her of her mount, and she gets back into the saddle with little apparent discomfort. It then emerges that, despite her red hair and pronounced Irish accent, Tanya is an Arab princess: a search party arrives to summon her to her royal father’s deathbed. She tells Tamerlane to claim his reward at the palace, and rides away. ‘So you courted the seat of a princess, master,’ says one of his men. ‘And she would reward you for it,’ adds another, smirking about the tale he will have to tell back at their encampment.

What’s noticeable is that the characters are pointedly not using the word spanking, but are using a different word, courting, that nevertheless carries effectively the same meaning. This continues in later scenes. The Bedouins do go to the city, but only to trade, not to claim any rich reward. After they get dangerously caught up in local politics, however, Tamerlane decides he must go to the palace after all. His sidekick reminds him that ‘in the palace is a princess who does not sit because of the courting you gave her’. (And thereupon the scene immediately changes to Princess Tanya, sitting down, still without any sign of discomfort.) And later she goes to the desert in search of the black stallion, needing it to win a race that will determine who gets to choose her husband. She’s stopped by the Bedouins, who are also looking for the stallion, and gets haughty with them:

TANYA: Let me go! I am the Princess Tanya.

BEDOUIN: Who was royally courted by our noble master.

After some banter they let her pass, and one remarks to the other, ‘If she meets our master, I vow she’ll not be sitting in her saddle when she returns.’

The point is that what happened to Tanya at the start of the movie is represented as being both a spanking and not a spanking: substitute spank for court and the lines still bear exactly the same meaning, but nevertheless a definite choice has been made to avoid calling it a spanking, and indeed to avoid staging it in a way that would make it unambiguously that. That’s why it’s done with a whip and isn’t done OTK – so the things I find most disappointing about it seem to be central to the way the film-makers wanted to define the scene. How it was talked about by reporters and moviegoers was, of course, another matter…

So I may have to grant you that there is a case, if you stretch a point, for saying that Maureen O’Hara was spanked on screen once before the grand finale to McLintock! But even factoring in the Flame of Araby ‘courting’, that still offers only a tendentious factual basis for those early Fifties claims that Maureen was getting spanked a lot: one swallow doesn’t make a summer even if one spanking may make a hot bottom.

So should we conclude that Edith Kermit Roosevelt and Sheilah Graham were guilty of exaggeration and hyperbole, or maybe of just not checking their facts well enough? The problem with that is that Sheilah Graham asked Maureen straight out how she felt about having to be spanked in so many of her films, and Maureen replied:

‘The distressing thing about these movie spankings is that a girl knows there’s no way to fake them. The he-man doing the job cannot pull his punch, because the camera will see it. It’s a real discomfort, but it doesn’t last too long and, after all, the pay is good.’

She’s obviously talking about more than one film, and she surely wasn’t referring primarily to the few flicks of the whip in Flame of Araby, which look quite perfunctory onscreen for all the subsequent talk about the effect on Princess Tanya’s ability to sit down. So her answer might reinforce the hypothesis that there was an alternative version of Comanche Territory in which the spanking threat reached fruition. It might also mean there are other titles lurking in Maureen’s filmography that feature currently unknown spanking scenes. But before we start looking, we must bear in mind that it might also mean something a lot less exciting.

Many years later, Maureen had this to say about the film she made immediately before McLintock!:

‘Henry Fonda gave me a spanking during a scene in Spencer’s Mountain.’

This resulted in a claim, in Aubrey Malone’s 2013 biography of the actress, that Fonda ‘put her over his knee’, which isn’t an unreasonable interpretation of her words. On the other hand, it also isn’t unreasonable to expect a biographer to actually watch his subject’s work, and if he had troubled to watch Spencer’s Mountain he would have seen:

l1l2

l3l4

She’s bending over to see to the washing, and he gives her an affectionate and rather theatrical smack on the bottom, with a swinging underarm delivery that ensures his hand goes under her skirt and lands directly on, we assume, the seat of her panties. The moment was later recreated in the publicity studio…

p1p2

and in a painting for the Italian poster:

spencers-mountain-italian-poster

‘Daddy spanked Momma!’ says one of the kids. But he doesn’t put her over his knee. Which all goes to show that neither the scriptwriter nor the leading lady used the word spanking with the kind of exactitude that we might have found helpful. So maybe there is, after all, no rich seam of early Fifties Maureen O’Hara screen spankings waiting to be discovered. And maybe in McLintock! she had it coming in more ways than one.

32 McLintock

Kiss Me Kate: Earl Overdoes It

01-jane-morgan

In the summer of 1958, the 34-year-old singer Jane Morgan was touring the northeastern US, playing Lilli Vanessi in Kiss Me Kate. As the tour progressed, her fellow actors began to notice that she was always reluctant to sit down. This wasn’t because Jane was an energetic lady who never felt the need to have a rest. On the contrary, it had a lot to do with this scene in the play:

02-1958-earl-wrightson-jane-morgan-long-island

Her costar Earl Wrightson, in the role of Fred, was giving the scene that little bit of extra authenticity. In the onstage dressing room scene afterwards Miss Vanessi was to be seen vigorously rubbing the seat of her black panties. And it wasn’t all acting…

She also stopped acting in the more immediate aftermath of the spanking, when Lilli slaps Fred. One night in Valley Forge, after enduring an extra-hard spanking even by Earl Wrightson’s standards, she hit him so hard that he was knocked to the floor:

03-1958-kmk-wrightson-morgan

And the outcome was that he spanked her harder still in the ensuing performances!

The worst night was August 5. They’d just opened on Long Island, and Wrightson wasn’t letting up. His reward was an almighty sock in the kisser that resulted in a trip to the hospital to have his jaw x-rayed. Jane later said she was sorry she had hurt him: ‘I just wanted to let him know he was spanking me too hard.’

It later emerged that his jaw wasn’t broken after all, and the press decided that it was all a publicity stunt. To assure them that it wasn’t, Jane invited the Broadway reporter Earl Wilson to visit her dressing room and inspect her bare bottom; being a gentleman, he declined and took her word for it. Other newshounds asked around the rest of the cast, and the authenticity of the over-authentic spanking was confirmed by an unnamed actress, who supplied an especially choice quote:

‘I wouldn’t even want to understudy that part. Earl has a hand like a ham. I’ll never invite him to my birthday party.’

And that incidentally indicates that one customary feature of her birthday parties was the traditional birthday spanking!

The irony is that Jane Morgan had previously participated in a publicity stunt in which she denounced a fashion for wearing ‘false bottoms’ to enhance what nature had insufficiently endowed. She told the press that she for one found them unnecessary, and swore she would never wear one. To reinforce the point, she did what she offered to do for Earl Wilson a year or so later, and stripped off to show the photographers why:

04-jane-morgan-with-natural-padding

After the Kiss Me Kate incident, one magazine revived the story and pointed out that Jane now had cause to regret her rash vow. The piece ran under the juicy headline:

Why Jane Morgan Needs Padded Panties

She may have needed them again in July 1962 when she and Wrightson got back together for a three-week run in Hillside, Illinois:

05-1962-jane-morgan

It was a strictly limited engagement, 24 performances only. But that did mean 24 more sessions over Wrightson’s knee, under his ham-sized hand!

06-1962-jane-morgan-14-july-1962

And with that, Jane Morgan said goodbye to the role of Lilli Vanessi, save for certain extracts that involved her singing voice rather than the shrieks and protests of a well-spanked leading lady. Those fell instead to Wrightson’s regular singing partner, Lois Hunt, who toured with him in Kiss Me Kate until well into the 1970s:

07-earl-wrightson-lois-hunt-196308-wrightson-hunt

For her sake, let’s hope Jane Morgan taught him something with those socks on the jaw!

Photographer of the Week: Caroline DeMon

caroline-demon-selfie

The masked lady in black is Caroline DeMon, a Warsaw-based art photographer (and designer of jewelry) who specializes in ‘alternative’ themes ranging from occultism to burlesque and from grunge to gore. And spanking, obviously.

She describes her images as ‘ugly’. This is arguably a misnomer.

caroline-demon-you-keep-me-from-breaking-apartcaroline-demon-angela

Some of her most attractive photos have a strong element of dreamy fantasy.

caroline-demon-fairy-queen-1caroline-demon-fairy-queencaroline-demon-chasing-dreams

Here one side of her work meets the other in a sort of woodland grunge:

caroline-demon-garden-of-destruction

The shoot that most interests us took place on November 5, 2015, and produced a set entitled ‘Next Door’, featuring models Monika M and Aleksander Lukasiak.

caroline-demon-next-door

And among the things that Alek did to the girl next door was…

caroline-demon

If you are interested in Caroline’s work, please visit her website.

The Curious Case of the Asbestos Pants

In recent weeks we have encountered many ‘not-quite’ cases of movie spanking scenes, but the strangest of them all must be the 1951 Western Cave of Outlaws. It comes to our attention because of a paragraph in the ‘trivia’ section of its Internet Movie Database entry:

‘Alexis Smith spent several hours in wardrobe being fitted for a pair of asbestos pants, as the film called for leading man Macdonald Carey to turn the actress over his knee and give her one of the hardest spankings ever administered to a female screen player.’

The paragraph’s provenance is unknown, though it reads as if it was written for a 1950s fan magazine rather than in the age of the internet. Some of its oddities are obvious at a glance, but let’s defer discussion of them until we’ve familiarized ourselves with the movie itself.

Macdonald Carey plays ex-outlaw Pete Carver, who has just been released from jail after serving fifteen years, but is nevertheless reputed to have access to a fortune. That’s because he’s the son of a train robber, who hid the heist’s proceeds (as it happens, in the eponymous outlaw cave) before being murdered. The loot was never found, and it’s generally believed that Carver knows its hiding place. Stolen money though it is, everyone wants a piece of it – which means Carver’s credit is good everywhere.

cave-of-outlaws-alexis-smith

The most attractive fly around the honeypot is Liz Trent (Alexis Smith), who asks Carver to invest in the Copper Bend Clarion, a bankrupt newspaper owned by her missing husband. He agrees, though it seems he’s more interested in her than he is in the Clarion.

cave-of-outlaws-1

Now we have to face up to three facts. The first is the now familiar one that there is no spanking scene in the available print of the movie, nor any obvious sign that one has been removed. The second is that the film as it stands offers only relatively limited spanking opportunities: there’s a scene where he kisses her and she slaps him, and another where she insists on following him to the cave and gets herself into jeopardy, but nothing to motivate or justify ‘one of the hardest spankings’ in the history of the cinema. And thirdly, throughout the picture Liz wears a series of fashionable 1890s dresses, but never a pair of pants, not even in the cave scenes.

cave-of-outlaws

So the online blogger who wrote in 2011 that the film was ‘less notable for acting than for the asbestos britches Smith had to be outfitted for’, had obviously never seen it!

So what are we to make of that IMDB trivia item which was obviously the source of the blogger’s information? Is it a mistake, a lie, a fantasy, or evidence of a deleted scene?

It is worth pausing for a moment to consider exactly what it might mean. Obviously it’s not meant to be taken literally. Asbestos was a mineral used in the last century for insulation and fireproofing, until it was found to be a major health hazard. A sound spanking might have given Alexis Smith a very hot bottom, but she wasn’t at any risk of catching fire! The phrase ‘asbestos pants’ was simply being used as a witty way of saying that she was given some padding.

That wasn’t the regular practise with movie spanking scenes. We get a sense of the usual attitude in a report from the set of Our Wife (1941), on the day they filmed the climactic scene with Ellen Drew:

our-wife-lobby-card

‘Miss Drew, unfortunately, could not wear any geography books where they’d do the most good. A movie actress has got to have smooth-looking hips, even when she’s being spanked, and padding is out.’

That’s relevant to the case of Alexis Smith ten years later, in two ways, both of them tending to enhance the credibility of what seems at face value to be a less than plausible tale. Firstly, it establishes that padding an actress for a spanking scene was an unusual procedure, and therefore worthy of comment. And secondly, it underlines that this wasn’t just a matter of stuffing in some foam rubber willy-nilly. Maintaining the usual rear aspect of Alexis…

alexis-smith

… would indeed have been a job that required several hours’ work in wardrobe as she was fitted for the special pants that would render her bottom, though not flame-proof, hopefully spank-proof.

But what kind of ‘pants’? Assuming for the sake of argument that there was a deleted spanking scene, she might have worn pants in the American sense of the word, but that would be completely inconsistent with everything else she wears in the rest of the movie. So it’s possible that wardrobe might have supplied her with a pair of pants in the British sense, which might be less confusingly called panties, to be worn underneath her dress during the scene in question. But if that was the case, fitting them would hardly have required the several hours claimed, since they only needed to absorb the impact, not actually look good on screen.

That leaves a third possibility, which we’ll come to after giving some thought to another of the anecdote’s peculiarities. Since wardrobe precautions were being taken in advance, the spanking must have been expected to be unusually hard. But who deliberately plans such a thing? The script for a spanking scene (in any medium) will obviously say that the girl is spanked, and it may also specify that she is spanked hard, but one thing it won’t indicate is that she gets ‘one of the hardest spankings ever administered to a female screen player’. How the scene is realized, and how spectacular a spanking it is, is up to the director. But the director wouldn’t plan it in terms of its actual intensity, either, because his concern is how it will look in the footage, not how it might feel on a particular square foot (or less) of the actress’s body. The only reason to anticipate extraordinary discomfort would be if there was something out of the ordinary about the way Macdonald Carey had been directed to administer the spanking.

And that would certainly explain the counter-measures, if the ‘pants’ in question were both worn under her dress and seen on screen. In other words, the spanking could have rated as, and been expected to be, one of the hardest ever if it was given with her skirt raised, on the seat of a pair of period bloomers that, therefore, had to be carefully designed and painstakingly fitted to be both attractive and protective. And since, in 1951, a skirt-up spanking, with the target area in view, was unprecedented in recent American cinema, that would in turn explain why the studio then had second thoughts and completely expunged the scene from the release print.

It’s an appealing thought, and though it may seem unlikely, it’s not altogether fanciful. To begin to explain why, here’s a moment from a Western made the year before Cave of Outlaws by the same studio, Universal-International, the same producer, the same art director and the same star.

comanche-territory-can-can

The film is Comanche Territory (1950), and we’ll deal with its main claim on our attention another time. What matters for now is that it establishes that there was no necessary aversion to showing on screen certain feminine garments that are not ordinarily visible, so long as they were shown in circumstances where it would be considered normal for the lady’s skirt to be lifted. Dancing the can-can is one such circumstance. And a spanking might well have been another, even though as a rule it didn’t happen in the movies.

There were a handful of raised-skirt spankings in later television Westerns, including this memorable one given to Susan Oliver in Wagon Train (1960),

wagon-train-1960

and this more obscure example from Death Valley Days (1969), with Valerie de Camp:

death-valley-days-1969

But the example that may have the most significance for my argument is one I’ve never seen, and unfortunately can’t show you a picture of. It’s a 1960 episode of Tales of Wells Fargo entitled ‘A Study in Petticoats’, featuring Whitney Blake. Here she is in another role:

whitney blake

This series seems to have staged the spanking scene a little differently from the other two. Both Susan Oliver and Valerie de Camp were spanked, with skirts up, on their petticoats. Just to confirm that, here’s the reverse angle on the Wagon Train spanking:

wagon-train-reverse-angle

But the skirt-up spanking in ‘A Study in Petticoats’, as reported by those who saw it in the early 1960s, conspicuously didn’t involve petticoats: Whitney Blake was spanked on the seat of her bloomers.

One enthusiast described this as ‘the longest and most thorough spanking’ he had ever seen on television, which may sound just a little familiar. And it’s noticeable how difficult it is to obtain information about this particular Wells Fargo episode: it was omitted from repeat runs, wasn’t included in the ‘best of’ DVD collection and even the most basic details about it are absent from the standard online sources; it’s not even listed in Whitney Blake’s filmography. It’s almost as if someone were trying to write it out of history…

Could it possibly be that, of all the many Western spankings, this was one that was thought to have gone too far? And if so, could it be that a similar scene with Alexis Smith was correspondingly erased from Cave of Outlaws before it was released?

Of course, I’ve thrown an enormous amount of tendentious reasoning at this case in order to reach that tentative conclusion, and the outcome is even heavier on hypothesis than usual. Did Alexis Smith get a spectacular bloomers spanking in 1951? We shall probably never know, and it remains a strong possibility that I’ve been wasting my time and yours chasing a hare started by a fantasist on IMDB – in which case, shame on them!

The Honor of the Brossarbourgs

Georges Courteline’s playlet L’Honneur des Brossarbourg was first published in a Parisian journal in 1894, and later appeared in book form as part of his 1904 collection, Boubouroche. The action begins with the Baroness de Brossarbourg approaching her husband to make a confession. How will it end? Sometimes, with luck, something like this:

brossarbourg-3

Something has happened that will compromise the honor of his family, involving her and a man. The trouble is, she doesn’t know who the man was. During a hunting party at the chateau with six guests, she was changing her clothes, and had got to the point when her chemise was over her head, when suddenly an unseen hand patted her on the bare bottom and a male voice declared appreciatively that her skin was like satin. Here’s how it was visualized in two early illustrated editions of Courteline’s works:

honneur-des-brossarbourgbrossarbourg-illustration

Determined to discover the identity of the foul miscreant who blotted the family scutcheon, the Baroness slept with the house guests in turn and used all her feminine charms in an effort to extract a confession, but to no avail. Now she’s worried that the mystery bottom-patter must have been one of the servants. The disgrace!

Her husband has news for her: her adulterous investigations were all for nothing… because it was him all the time!

2015 production with Eric Juan and Anastasia Cassandra

2015 production with Eric Juan and Anastasia Cassandra

She’s relieved that it wasn’t a servant, or worse. But whether it’s an unqualified happy ending for her depends on the production. The actors can just leave it at that – Courteline gives no closing stage direction – but many directors feel the sketch needs a payoff in the form of some final reaction from the Baron. Sometimes he chases her vengefully off the stage, but in 2013 at Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy, near Strasbourg, the Theatre de l’Etoile troupe had a different idea…

The Baron resumes the role of bottom-smacker, only this time not incognito… and the Baroness’ reaction seems to exemplify the maxim that certain naughty girls won’t ask for a spanking, just misbehave enough to make sure that they get one!

Photographer of the Week: Red Art

Red Art of Dublin is a female art photographer who describes herself as an ‘over-thinker and lover of oddities’.

Her work is notable for its mostly subdued colors – sometimes she shoots in monochrome – but occasionally there will be a vivid splash of red or blue, often in a model’s lips or clothing or hair.

00-redart-w-model-michelle00a-redart-w-model-truly-blue

Among the ‘oddities’ she shoots are glamorous women with a dash of fetish in the mix. Not all that odd, then! And the particular glamorous woman who matters to us in this context is ‘alternative’ model Genna Darling.

01-genna-darling02-genna-darling

In the spring of 2016, she and Red Art got together with Leo Raftery for a stylishly minimalist shoot.

03-red-art-of-dublin-genna-darling

This explored some themes of dominance and submission, with Genna in the latter position.

04-red-art

Where do you think that riding crop’s going to end up?

05-red-art-of-dublin-genna-darling-leo-raftery

Just where we expected, of course!

06-red-art-w-genna-leo

But when it comes to beating, there’s one thing that just can’t be beat, and that is… a good spanking!

07-red-art-of-dublin-genna-darling-leo-raftery

If you are interested in Red Art’s work, please visit her Instagram site.

Check the Cutting Room Floor

In recent weeks we have been discovering how some movies once included spanking scenes that were cut out, while others have been said to include spanking scenes but disappointingly don’t and never did. Often it’s clear enough which category a particular non-spanking movie belongs in, but from time to time the available evidence is harder to interpret: a spanking might have been filmed and it might not, but without an investigation of the studio’s archival records of the production, it is impossible to say for sure. Today we look at a selection of cases from the borderline, beginning with…

A Little Eastern Taming

In August 1952, United Press reporter Edith Kermit Roosevelt – not the former First Lady but her granddaughter – filed a story for syndication across America. Her subject was an outbreak of movie spanking scenes in recent years: ‘Just turn a glamor girl over on the lap of a leading man and watch the box office zoom,’ she wrote. Among several quotes she got from spanked actresses was this one by Yvonne de Carlo:

‘A spanking is cute, especially when it comes from dashing Richard Greene.’

She was talking about The Desert Hawk, a 1950 adventure movie starring her and Greene. He plays Omar the Desert Hawk, a sort of Arabian Robin Hood, five years before he played the English original on television. She is Princess Shaharazade, who is due to marry the tyrant oppressing Omar’s people. Since the alliance will give him additional troops from her father, Omar steps in and weds her himself, temporarily assuming the tyrant’s identity.

She’s a princess and his secret identity is a low-born blacksmith, so the relationship owes much to the kind of screwball cross-class romance that we’ve already encountered in Hard to Get.

desert-hawk-01

In the course of the story, he rescues her from the slave market and they ride away through the desert. En route, she speaks insultingly to him, and he responds by throwing her off his horse and making her walk along the sand behind him.

Later, his friends are talking with her handmaids about the couple. The friends suggest that ‘a little taming’ has been taking place on the ride, to which a handmaid responds, ‘He would not dare!’ – which rather makes one think that the word ‘taming’ might be meant, as it often was at this time and in this context, as a synonym for ‘spanking’. But though the Princess goes from shrewing to kissing, Omar doesn’t achieve this by putting her across his knee for a good, old-fashioned ‘taming’.

So why, two years later, did Yvonne de Carlo mention being spanked by Richard Greene? Since by then The Desert Hawk had come and gone, there was no publicity incentive for hype, and indeed she didn’t even mention the title: she wasn’t primarily talking about the film, and presumably that wasn’t what she was asked about; on the contrary, she was talking about being in a spanking scene. So it’s odd that she mentioned Richard Greene at all, when the actor she was spanked by on screen was Rod Cameron, in Frontier Gal (1945):

frontier-gal-3

Unless of course Greene had done it too, more recently, in an alternate, discarded scene of The Desert Hawk.

One reason why that’s at least plausible is that the screenwriter was Gerald Drayson Adams (1900-88). In the early 1950s, he specialized in ‘Easterns’ and his later credits included The Prince Who Was a Thief and Flame of Araby (both 1951), which both featured what might very loosely be described as ‘spankings’, and Princess of the Nile (1954), which may also have done. (My information is inconclusive.) So there is at least a decent likelihood that such a scene was also filmed for The Desert Hawk, and that Yvonne de Carlo has a place among the ranks of Hollywood stars who were spanked for nothing. At least she enjoyed it enough to find it ‘cute’!

The Wedding Night Spanking

The habits of screenwriters are often a relevant factor in these obscure cases. So let’s consider the track record of Ben Hecht (1894-1964) and Charles Lederer (1911-76). Hecht’s previous credits included Nothing Sacred (1937), which includes a spanking threat, as we have seen, though not a spanking scene. Lederer also co-wrote Cock of the Air (1932) in which Chester Morris did this to Billie Dove:

cock-of-the-air

And in 1940, they collaborated on the script of the foreign correspondent romance Comrade X.

Clark Gable plays McKinley B. Thompson, a journalist in Stalinist Russia who is also smuggling out damaging stories under the alias ‘Comrade X’. Hedy Lamarr plays a devout communist who’s curiously named Theodore:

comrade-x-theodore

Her father blackmails Thompson into taking her out of Russia in order to save her from her beliefs. His first move is to persuade her that he is a party member sent to escort her on a propaganda mission to America, but he then finds that the only way of procuring an exit visa is to marry her.

According to the publicity tagline: ‘Hedy gets spanked… mauled… jailed… scratched!’ Here it is at the foot of the movie poster:

comrade-x

She does get jailed. She does get mauled and scratched in a catfight. She has a big fight with Thompson on their wedding night after discovering that he is not a communist after all, during which she swings at him with a chair and spits at him. He tells her to put the chair down or he’ll ‘crown’ her, and she admits she’s been behaving like a child – and proceeds to be more adult by trying to denounce him to the secret police. But she doesn’t get spanked. She doesn’t even get smacked. Her bottom remains untouched by human hand.

So the tagline was untrue. But it’s more likely to have been a mistake rather than an outright lie. If you look at the Comrade X publicity material as a whole, there’s a lot that doesn’t quite match the movie. To take one example, earlier on the wedding night, Theodore changes into an exceedingly utilitarian nightgown, and Thompson gets her to put on a more feminine one, which is what she’s wearing during the subsequent fight. The moment features on the small picture to the right of the poster, with a line of Thompson’s dialog: ‘You call that linen duster a nightgown? Here, put this on.’ A slightly different, extended version of the line also appears in the lobby card.

comrade-x-lobby

But in the movie, the only part of the line he says is ‘Put this on’ – the least witty, least inventive bit. So where did those other words, the ‘linen duster’ and ‘motoring’ remarks, come from?

The obvious answer is that the publicity department were working with an earlier version of the movie than the final release print. They might only have had the draft script, but since they also had the on-set stills photography, it’s much more likely that they were using a first cut of the actual film. If so, then Hedy Lamarr did get spanked, almost certainly by Clark Gable in the wedding night fight while she was wearing the sexy nightgown – and then the moment was deleted, which inadvertently rendered the publicity inaccurate.

The Social Butterfly and the Stern Archaeologist

Five years earlier, the tagline for the Joan Crawford movie I Live My Life (1935) assured prospective audiences,

‘It’s heavenly romance from the first kiss to the last spanking!’

Press display advertisements referred to the leading man’s ‘spanking technique’. A newspaper preview promised: ‘You’re in for a treat when you see Joan as the pampered darling of society, spanked across the knee of a handsome he-man.’ And what’s more, a different paper reported how that scene affected some moviegoers: ‘How the lassies’ hearts go pitter-patter when virile Brian Aherne puts Joan across his knee and administers a sound spanking.’

That seems pretty definitive, doesn’t it? Not just publicity that might have been superseded by a later edit, but a specific account of the impact the spanking scene had when the film was shown in cinemas. Yet the version currently available on DVD has not even a hint of any such scene. So what gives?

The movie had the same director and screenwriter as the Clark Gable-Joan Crawford vehicle Forsaking All Others the year before, so the track record is promising. Joan herself, meanwhile, had a spanking pedigree back as far as Rose Marie (1928), in which she co-starred with House Peters, seen spanking her here:

rose-marie

This time her man is Brian Aherne, playing Terry O’Neill, a straight-laced Irish archaeologist with a hearty dislike of spoiled rich girls. Joan is Kay Bentley, a spoiled rich girl who happens to be visiting the Greek island where he is conducting a dig.

i-live-my-life

The romance follows an escalating pattern: she behaves badly, he is stern with her, she likes it and pursues him further. So the trajectory of the relationship ought to escalate in much the way the advertising tag-line says, towards the ultimate rebuke that will cement their relationship: a good spanking!

Terry and Kay meet when she rides into the site, ignoring the ‘Keep Out’ signs as spoiled rich girls always do. He orders her to leave, but she has lost her mule and will have to walk down the mountain; so she trips over and pretends to sprain her ankle, forcing Terry – who’s still a gentleman despite his class prejudices – to carry her down in his arms. When they get to the bottom, she reveals that she was shamming and says she’ll go on foot the rest of the way to her yacht – whereupon he slings her over his shoulder and carries her back to the top so that she has to do the whole walk herself after all.

i-live-my-life-01i-live-my-life-02i-live-my-life-04

Even though she already has a fiancé, she is clearly attracted to Terry, and the following day, she visits him to apologise for her childish behavior. She also explains that she is not in fact a spoiled rich girl at all, only the secretary to a tycoon (actually her father). He follows her to New York, intending to marry her, and almost immediately discovers the falsehood. Then they meet by chance: pressed for an explanation for her lie, she tells him she was only flirting, and he threatens to punch her in the nose, then gives her a stern lecture about her selfishness and leaves. This only renews the attraction for her.

And it’s the third time round the loop that gets us to ‘the first kiss’, about halfway through the picture. There’s no need to go through the ups and downs of the romance in detail, which entail her extrication from one engagement in order to install Terry in the vacated position of fiancé. What matters is that, the night before the wedding, they have a blazing row about their incompatible lifestyles and ambitions: he wants to go back to being an archaeologist in Greece, whereas she wants to go on being a spoiled rich girl. They agree to break it off; but since she doesn’t want to be known for having been jilted, it’s agreed that she will jilt him by simply not turning up to the wedding. The next day he waits in church, confident that he will soon be free of his obligation to her. And then she shows up after all, to his evident irritation…

In the DVD print of the film, he turns the tables by saying that he will show just cause or impediment why they shouldn’t be married, and she turns them back by producing tickets for Greece: she will live his life with him after all.

So how come the ‘first kiss to the last spanking’ tagline indicates that the story more or less ends with Kay being spanked? How come the newspapers described just such a scene and talked about its erotic effect on the ‘lassies’ in the audience?

It may be relevant that, after principal photography was finished, the cast were recalled in the first week of September 1935 to shoot an alternate ending to be used in some overseas prints, including in Britain. The available details are sketchy, but the intention was reportedly to tone down the way Terry behaves at the altar. So there’s good contemporary evidence that a spanking occurs in the last scene, and there’s evidence that there were two distinct versions of that last scene. Since Terry’s behavior in the DVD print doesn’t seem particularly outrageous, at least to modern eyes, it’s a reasonable inference – though it’s still a hypothesis, not actually a fact – that the surviving print of the film is the one with the softened ending.

These cases of missing spankings may seem complex to unravel, but you haven’t heard anything yet! Next week, our investigation turns to the most bizarre of them all…