Swift, rich, well-written but overlong memoir of Friedman's heyday as a trash-film entrepreneur gypsying around the country...


A YOUTH IN BABYLON: Confessions of a Trash-Film King

Swift, rich, well-written but overlong memoir of Friedman's heyday as a trash-film entrepreneur gypsying around the country shucking heavily advertised titillation celluloid: ""Uncut! Uncensored! Adults Only!"" Friedman and his fellow sexploitation kings never overestimated the taste and intelligence of their sensation-seeking audiences. After his WW II tour (all stateside) with the Army's Signal Corps as a motion-picture technician, Friedman began work as a booking agent for Paramount's Buffalo exchange, a company he stayed with for five years, working his way upladder until he handled the Midwest publicity for De Mille's The Greatest Show on Earth. Earlier, however, he had sold some Army surplus searchlights to one Kroger Babb, a master of hyperbolic hokum who made millions selling tickets for his Mom and Dad sex-hygiene masterpiece to rubes and city folk alike (it featured an insert showing the birth of a baby). Friedman saw he would never make the kind of money at Paramount that he could working with Babb and so quit his legit job and went riotously on the road with Babb. Their years together produced the Babb version of Ingmar Bergman's Summer with Monika, which featured a shot of Harriet Anderssen swimming in the buff: Babb cut the 96-minute flick down to 62 minutes and the money shot, threw out the symphonic score, added his own lively tunes and a dubbed soundtrack, and shucked Monika, Story of a Bad Girl as tops in Swedish sleaze. Babb's big money came from hygiene booklets and sometimes miniature Bibles that his pitchmen sold between showings. A financial crunch caused the high-spending Babb to sell out his interest to Friedman and two other partners. Soon Friedman, along with Herschell Gordon Lewis, Ph.D., was forced by the times into showing more skin and making his own nudie-cuties flicks and casting the ladies: ""I met eight personable, uninhibited young women. . .viewing approximately half a ton of bare, glowing, firm female flesh. It was a long, hard day's work. But someone had to do it. . ."" At 40 and well-heeled, he quit the business because he had no liking for pornography as such. Much, much fun. A trash-film classic.

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 1990

ISBN: 1573922366

Page Count: -

Publisher: Prometheus

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1990