Strip Strip Hooray! 

If you've seen one of these black-and-white oddities, you've seen them all, whether or not they're included here. I challenge even the most patient among you to sit through all half-dozen. Even with breaks, I'm not certain it can be done without cracking.

Title notwithstanding, striptease is just a part of the proceedings, with pure-vanilla musical numbers and vaudeville sketches. For example, 1949’s Midnight Frolic, includes triplet singers, an accordion player, dancers shaking their maracas (the actual musical instruments, mind you), a gymnastic routine and vocalists crooning numbers I'm certain my grandmother would've loved to listen to while driving her Lincoln Continental to the beauty parlor and/or Hyde Drug.

The comedy sketches play to silence and at interminable length, with leaden jokes such as being able to spot a "beer garden girl" because she "comes home with Schlitz in her pants." (That one's from Everybody's Girl, as if you're going to rush to witness it.) Each routine makes Abbott and Costello's classic "Who's on First?" bit look like Einstein's theory of relativity by comparison. And was Limburger cheese a required punch line back then?

And then there's the main attraction: the clothes-peelers. Please note these ladies are not sexy by today's standards, much less yesterday's. Most of them wear Joker-esque smiles on their hatchet faces, and one can almost guess how many kids they had in their teens by counting the stretch marks. Because full nudity wasn't permitted in the era, the women's jiggly breasts bear accoutrements to retain their, er, dignity.

The exception to the ugly-stick rule proves to be Tempest Storm, who graces the screen in 1953’s A Night in Hollywood. She's so legendary that her shedding sequence is in color, and she's about the only one who doesn't make you feel like you're watching Diane Ladd. Instead, stuffed into a sequined dress, Storm looks like a proto-Jessica Rabbit.

While we're on the subject of names, three asides:
1. Appearing in 1950’s Everybody's Girl is the now unfortunately monikered Gay Dawn.
2. Among those taking it off in 1953’s The A-B-C’s of Love is Shirley Jean Rickert, none other than the Our Gang/The Little Rascals veteran, all grown up. Alfalfa’s hair certainly would stand at attention.
3. In Midnight Frolic, one performer is credited with the nickname of "Beetlepuss." I swear.

These flicks are genuine relics — time-capsule reminders of how good we have it now. While they're only enjoyable for a couple minutes here, a few seconds there, I'm glad they still exist, especially in a widely accessible format, so three cheers for the SWV archivists for digging this stuff up. Strip Strip Hooray! would be great background for parties, but I can't recommend it beyond merely satisfying one’s curiosity. —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
The Abbott and Costello Show: The Complete Series DVD review 

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