Oh! Calcutta! (1972)

oh calcutta 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 1 out of 10

4-Word Review: No clothes no problem.

This film is based on the long running stage play that ran from June 17, 1969 to August 12, 1972 and later revived in the ‘80s to become one of the longest running shows in Broadway history. This version was taped in front of a live audience on a closed sound stage and then broadcast on pay-per-view, which eventually was transferred to theaters in ’72. It has a mainly nude cast performing in skits with a sex related theme and later became popular for featuring Bill Macy who went on to star as Walter in the hit TV-show ‘Maude’.

The film starts out interestingly enough as it shows the audience members filing in and examines the nervous looks on their faces as this was when nudity on stage was all still quite new and controversial. The film then cuts back and forth between the audience and the backstage cast who are in-the-buff and getting ready to perform.  They then come out on stage in bathrobes and do an Avant-garde-like dance sequence in which their names get matted over the screen while they flash the audience.

It then goes into the skit portion and everything goes rapidly downhill from there. The first segment isn’t funny at all and actually quite disturbing. It deals with two adults pretending to be teens who are starting to become aware of their sexual awakenings. The boy, who is named Jack, takes out a ruler in order to put it up Jill’s ‘thing’ to make sure it will be deep enough to fit in his ‘thing’. She becomes reluctant, so he tackles her and forcibly rapes her while killing her in the process. Unable to grasp what he has done he props her up and has a ‘conversation’ with the corpse before walking away and allowing the camera to zoom in on a close-up of her vacant, empty eyes.

The second segment deals with the cast reading letters of sexual fantasies written by anonymous authors that isn’t as titillating as it sounds. The third segment deals with a man who has become bored with his sex life and wants his reluctant girlfriend to try out some new fetishes. This segment is particularly boring because during the time the couple is having sex the viewer is treated to watching three minutes of a matted picture of a city skyscraper instead.

After this there is a skit dealing with a conservative couple inviting over some swingers as well as a segment dealing with an examination done at a doctor’s office, which is has a vaudeville theme and comes complete with cheesy cartoon sound effects.

There was a time when the mention of sex or nudity shown of any kind would be deemed ‘controversial’, but that period is long gone and this insipid thing hasn’t aged well at all. In fact there are old episodes of the ‘Love Boat’ that are more provocative and funnier than anything you’ll see here.

oh calcutta 2

My Rating: 1 out of 10

Released: June 16, 1972

Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Jacques Levy

Studio: Cinemation Industries

Available: DVD (out-of-print)

4 responses to “Oh! Calcutta! (1972)

  1. Wow, this movie sounds lame; and frankly, the first segment sounds disgusting! I guess you’d have to have a really, REALLY dark sense of humor to appreciate that kind of comedy. There’s nothing worse than a comedy that just isn’t funny, and it seems like this film fit the bill. I like this blog because I don’t watch a ton of old movies and your site features some I’ve never heard of before. Happy writing, sorry you had to sit through this dud!

  2. You completely lost me after the mention of the first “skit”. Unless it was deeply satirical – no.

    • Honestly I was completely lost after the first skit as well. I don’t know what they were trying to do with that one. I was confused because the play/film is billed as a comedy and I just didn’t see anything funny about it. Maybe it’s just a ’60s thing.

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