The Library of Spanking Fiction: Wellred Weekly

Wellred Weekly
Volume 1, Number 12 : December 7, 2012
Items of interest regarding all things spanking

Spanking in Film: the Early Years (cont.)
by Jameslovebirch

The western TV series Wagon Train delivered one of television's most explosive spankings in The Maggie Hamilton Story (1960). In typical fashion, a spoiled young woman (Susan Oliver) is transformed into a good girl after the man asserts his dominance by pulling up her skirt and giving her a well-deserved OTK whupping on her exposed bloomers.

Among the countless films with playful, single-swat scenes, the only one worth mentioning is Adam's Rib (1949) with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Tracy gives Hepburn a massage while they argue. He finishes with a strong backside smack. She is outraged and recites a detailed analysis of the psychology behind the hard slap. To this, a bemused Tracy quips: "What do you have back there, radar?"

Adam's RibThe Maggie Hamilton Story (Wagon Train)

Intentional or not, one of the kinkiest punishment scenes in a mainstream film appears in the romantic comedy Bachelor Flat (1962). Terry-Thomas dreams that Tuesday Weld is an inmate in a cruel prison. "They beat me here," she pleads. We see her shadow as she bends forward and gets six hard strokes with a leather strap. (This scene can be viewed on YouTube.)

Three exceptions
Three highly unusual films, Slaves in Bondage (1937), The Roots of Heaven (1958), and The Misfits (1961), dared to show other aspects of corporal punishment (CP).

Slaves in Bondage is an obscure, low-budget exploitation film about prostitution. This turgid expose has one astonishing and unique moment. As a brothel madam shows her "specialty" rooms to a new girl, we see two lingerie-clad hookers playfully wresting on a bed and taking turns spanking each other. This is the first (and only) known mainstream film of this era to show corporal punishment as a sexual turn on (in a brothel, no less). Plus, the implied lesbianism and hint of masochism in the scene enhances its forbidden allure. (The complete film can be watched at the Internet Archive.)

In The Roots of Heaven, a band of militant environmentalists in Africa raid an elegant soiree of smug, elephant-hunting aristocrats. They punish the matronly hostess by giving her "twelve of the best" an embarrassing over-the knee bare-bottom spanking in front of her guests. The hostess' cries of pain, outrage and humiliation ("This is really awful!") are priceless. This is a unique example of CP used as a tool of social protest. A video clip of this scene is available at Metacafe.

The Roots of HeavenSlaves in Bondage

The Misfits, directed by John Huston, presents a memorable non-punishment hand-smacking that combines eroticism with humiliation. Marilyn Monroe, in her final role, plays a troubled exotic dancer who longs for a new life and respectability. At a rowdy cowboy bar, she finds a child's paddle with a ball attached on a rubber string. Showing off her skills, she whacks the ball continuously while the excited crowd places bets on how long she can keep going. Her technique involves a sexy hip-shaking movement that over-stimulates one of the leering patrons. He reaches out and smacks her voluptuous behind about a dozen times before the scene ends in a scuffle. So much for respectability.

Underground films, Irving Klaw and Bettie Page
The earliest known fetish films showing spanking, bondage, and whipping date back to the 1920s. These were created by the mostly anonymous makers of pornographic "stag films", primarily in France. A number of silent film-loops from the 1920s to the 1940s have been rediscovered and preserved, including a few by fetish photographer Jacques Biederer at his Ostra Studio in Paris. Nearly all of these films, with the exception of Biederer's, feature explicit sex scenes.

A silent featurette called The Casting Couch (c. 1924) is perhaps the earliest American stag film with a spanking scene. This has an unusual sequence of male bondage and F/M cropping.

From the late 1940s until 1957, New York shop-owner, photographer, and film director Irving Klaw added a catalog of groundbreaking erotica to his pin-up photo business. His clients requested a variety of fetishistic images, and Klaw was happy to oblige. Shortly after hiring model Bettie Page in 1952, Klaw started making short BDSM film-loops, perhaps the first of their kind. Page and other underwear-clad women in high heels performed in dozens of 16mm shorts featuring bondage, spanking, pony play, and slave training.

Unlike the hardcore stag films of that era, there is no nudity, sex scenes, or sadism in any of Klaw's films. The tone is generally lighthearted, almost playful at times. Even while portraying a stern dominatrix or bound submissive, Bettie Page often used campy mannerisms or winked at the camera to indicate that it was all a lark. Like the erotic French postcards of an earlier era, these are frolics of fantasy without any menace or realism. These specialized featurettes (and photos) were under-the-counter products sold discreetly at Klaw's store, Movie Star News, and by mail order.

When it comes to pure, non-pornographic fetish films, Klaw stands alone without any comparable contemporaries. Only a handful of 8mm loops from the '50s, by producers who may forever remain anonymous, have been rediscovered and preserved. Klaw was forced to quit making films in 1957 due to pressure from State authorities intent on putting him out of business.

By the mid-1960s, with the introduction of Super 8 film, underground bondage/spanking film-loops inspired by Klaw (now with nudity but no sex scenes) began to thrive. The production of these short films continued until the home video market emerged in the 1980s. In fact, several well-known fetish film producers such as Nu-West/Leda Productions and House of Milan started out in the late '70s making silent film-loops.

Five volumes of vintage pornographic films showing erotic bondage, spanking and whipping from the 1920s to the 1960s have been released by Cult Epics, the same company that re-issued Irving Klaw's fetish films on DVD. The Bizarro Sex Loops series from Something Weird Video contains many volumes of bondage/spanking reels from the '50s to the '70s.

The four-decade run of Hollywood films with comedic corporal punishment scenes faded away soon after Donnovan's Reef and McLintock! (both from 1963). However, many U.S. television shows, particularly westerns (Bonanza, The Big Valley, Rawhide, et al.) and sitcoms such as Gidget, continued the tradition for a few more years.

Woman of Fire (Bonanza)Big Valley

Jameslovebirch is a regular contributor to the Spanking Art Wiki

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