Friday, January 23, 2009

The Babysitter (Don Henderson, 1969)

She may look shy and innocent. But don't be fooled, this is one babysitter you don't want to mess with. An extremely perverted premise that is handled, and fondled slightly with the docile guardianship of a reluctant serial subway groper, the aptly named The Babysitter is a tender and surprisingly gritty tale about forbidden lust, marital stress, personal freedom, and biker-based blackmail. Pulling no punches when it came to portraying the generational divide that existed at the time between the taco-eating hippie youth and their more conservative, bridge-playing parents, the film directed by Don Henderson is an out of sight quick fix for those suffering from the mid-life crisis blues. Nagged to the point where his man-sack has gone on permanent vacation, fancy prosecuting lawyer George Maxwell (the workmanlike George E. Carey) is having marital trouble. His wife Edith (a wonderfully shrill Anne Bellamy) is always insisting they go out and socialize with her lame ass friends, while all he wants to do is stay home and repeatedly prod her sloppy vagina with his ten pound penis. On shaky ground to begin with, their estranged routine is forcibly turned upside down when the supple legs of their vivacious babysitter skip playfully through their front door.

Attached to these fleshy sex sticks is the rambunctious Candy Wilson (Patricia Wymer), a sweet morsel just waiting to be defiled. Actually, it's not as unseemly as it sounds. I mean, Candy isn't childlike at all. In fact, she's so full of gumption, that she invites a rock band (complete with naked go-go dancers) over to play the Maxwell's basement while there away for the evening. I know, talk about a groovy chick. Anyway, while it may seem like Candy and George are flirting with one another during the car ride home, it's actually the youthful dumpling in the mini-skirt who makes all the moves (George is literally putty in her hands). Her impromptu taco eating seminar, by the way, was an excellent metaphor for the bane of improperly executed cunnilingus during the post-war era.

Complicating matters is Julie Freeman (Kathy Williams), the "old lady" of a biker accused of murder. Luckily for her, Julie is friends with George's no-nonsense lesbian daughter, Joan (Sheri Jackson), and plans on taking photographs of Joan licking and caressing her alluring girlfriend (Ruth Noonan) pool side. You see, George is prosecuting Julie's biker beau and wants to blackmail him with the salacious photos. Of course, with the middle-aged lawyer now cavorting with the babysitter, compromising pictures of closeted lesbians won't be necessary (or possible - the blurry glass of the sauna door impeded her attempts to get any pictures of them together), as the scurrilous Kathy sets her sights on George and Candy.

Now, the whole babysitter being intimate with her much older employer is one of the most well-worn stories around (there wouldn't be modern pornography without it, so I've been told). However, whereas as most babysitter plots are more creepy than they are titillating, there's a real playfulness to The Babysitter. Boasting coltish montages that involve light petting and small-scale nudity, the film isn't about cheap erections and unearned provocation. It's just about two people who dig one another from different sides of the counterculture, and I can't be against that, no matter how hard I try.

Reminding me of Drew Barrymore circa Poison Ivy mixed with the wide-eyed innocence of Melanie Hutsell circa how the fuck should I know, Patricia Wymer (The Young Graduates) imbues her mischievous babysitter with enough moxie to destroy the synapses of a thousand deviants (I bet she could do this with just a single look). Extolling the virtues of personal freedom and demanding the most out of life, Candy is the expected voice of her time.



  1. Wait, Tom Laughlin as in Billy Jack? That Tom Laughlin?

  2. Yep. Apparently Billy Jack made babysitting movies on the side.

  3. Your ten-pound penis comment reminded me of the times when I was a callow teenager and I would prank call bowling alleys and ask, "Do you have ten pound balls?" If they said yes, I would then ask, "How the hell do you walk?"

    Unfortunately, since I was not the only callow teenager phone prankster, most employees knew the punch line and just hung up right after they heard "ten pound balls."

    LMAO at the taco part. You may have heard about the controversy surrounding the Pink Taco restaurants here in the States. I love this quote from the Wikipedia article:
    "The president and CEO, Harry Morton, contends it comes from a menu item and claims that if the restaurant were truly "vagina-themed" there would be "vaginas all over the walls."

  4. I love how you were able to conjure up a couple of pertinent anecdotes from my crassness. :)

    You were are callow teenager phone prankster?!? Cool. Anyway, I miss the days when you could openly harass people via the telephone.

    I think I may have heard about that Pink Taco incident. I mean, the line "vaginas all over the walls" is not something you hear uttered everyday.

    Oh, and where's Sally Hawkins' Oscar nomination? Like, WTF?

  5. While Tom Laughlin used the pseudonym "Donald Henderson" on a couple of films (editor credit on "Like Father, Like Son" and producer credit on "Born Losers"), I believe that you may be mistaken about him being the "Don Henderson" who directed "The Babysitter," "Touch of Satan," and "Weekend with the Babysitter."

  6. Thanks for Don Henderson info., Ryan. I'll make sure to correct my mistakes as soon as possible.

  7. Hey, that's a great review! I watched THE BABYSITTER for the first time tonight and really DUG it. I laughed out aloud at your ten pound schlong comment and quoted it on the shite site that is Facebook. lmfao.

  8. Thanks, Jack J. It's been a while since I watched The Babysitter, but I remember it being totally groovy.

  9. Where did you watch it? I can't find it anywhere.

  10. Really intrigued by this vintage oddity that treats a potentially creepy subject with sympathy, refuses to wallow in sleaze typical of adults-only grind-house flicks of the time, and tries to be a respectable R-rated film. (Also nice to see Kathy Williams, who did a ton of classic nudies/roughies). One of the few 60s sexploitation films not made by a fast-buck hack. Is this the "American Beauty" of its day? You should review "Weekend with the Babysitter" (1970), a sort of remake/semi-sequel in color with the same director and writer/star. (And maybe The Touch of Satan, 1971, too.)