Jul 16, 2013

Midnight Mishkin Midwest

As Friday night, September 27, 2013, becomes the 28th, the Orphan Film Symposium at Indiana University will enjoy a bonus screening.

A one-sheet for sale at movieposters.ha.com.
Courtesy of the IU Kinsey Institute film collection, the Indiana University Cinema will project the feature film The Orgy at Lil's Place (William Mishkin Motion Pictures, Inc., 1963). It's reputed to be like nothing -- but nothing -- you've seen before - EVER!

The screening is open to all. It falls two-thirds of the way through the symposium "Materiality and the Moving Image" aka Orphans Midwest. Since exploitation film scholar (yes, you heard me) Eric Schaefer (author of Bold! Daring! Shocking! True: A History of Exploitation Films, 1919-1959) will be part of the daytime session on sexploitation films, I have a feeling we won't be able to stop him from introducing the midnight show (even if we wanted to, which we don't).  Also on hand for the Kinsey session at Orphans Midwest will be Joseph Slade (Pornography and Sexual Representation: A Reference Guide, vol. 1-3), filmmaker-scholar Russell Sheaffer, and Liana Zhou (Director of Collections, Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction).

SEE the "ART" Class! 

The name to noted here is distributor William Mishkin. His company handled dozens of burlesque and exploitation films in the 1950s and 60s.  The AFI Catalog online edition lists 40 feature films credited to Mishkin. However, Orgy is not one of them.

(For reasons unknown, but perhaps easily inferred, the American Film Institute deleted numerous sexploitation films from its otherwise invaluable catalog when it migrated from the print edition to the online edition most us currently use. This according to Michael Bowen, an expert on the genre. See, for example, mooninthegutter.blogspot.com/2010, and Stefan Elnabli's profile of Michael Raso in alternativecinema.blogspot.com/2010, which, by the way, Elnabli published the same week he was co-producing the 2010 Orphan Film Symposium and its award-winning DVD -- and defending his NYU master's thesis, "Lowbrow Longevity: An Examination of Commercial Video Distribution's Unique Role in the Preservation of Independent Exploitation Horror Film." Whew!)

The Internet Movie Database credits Mishkin's company with distributing 75 works of art. Most are titles bearing the classic rhetoric of the age, such as Naked in the Wind (1954), Skin Game (1962), or Caught in the Act! (1966). The seventies saw the addition of horror and more violent flicks to the Mishkin catalog, including eleven directed by Andy Milligan (Bloodthirsty Butchers, Torture Dungeon, et al.). William Mishkin Motion Pictures also hyped European pictures in the U.S., including the outlier Bob le Flambeur (1956), directed by Jean Pierre Melville!

It's fair to say that Orgy, like several of the Andy Milligan features, was a "thought lost" movie. In his essay "Issues in Preservation of Exploitation Films" (2011), Casey Scott says specifically: "Titles like Orgy at Lil’s Place (1963), Wild Is My Love (1963), and Caught in the Act (1966) remain elusive, their posters and pressbooks the only tantalizing tastes left of these films."