|Vintage Pulp||May 10 2021|
St. Cyr escapes her gilded cage.
Above is a poster for Runaway Girl, a starring vehicle for burlesque queen Lili St. Cyr. In the film, Randy, played by Jock Mahoney, runs a family vineyard, and imports low wage harvest workers every year, all of them women, all young. This year his flock of seven laborers includes an extra woman in the form of Edella, played by St. Cyr. The grape grower starts to have randy feelings toward her, and pretty soon the two are canoodling in town and country. But Randy isn't actually a member of the wine making family by blood. He was taken in by the patriarch when young, and dating the help quickly causes this fault line to open. St. Cyr doesn't belong either. She's beautiful, glamorous, and has clearly never worked hard in her life. What is she doing there? How did a glamorous blonde end up picking grapes in a vineyard? The title of the movie tells you.
Runaway Girl is a low rent drama with only St. Cyr to distinguish it, but there are two versions—a cinematic release, and a racier adult version with three nudie cutie segments. There's a group shower sequence, a skinny dipping sequence, and a striptease. These sequences are jarring because they were spliced in to heat up the stew for an adult oriented re-release that played in nudie cinemas. St. Cyr also does a little medley of her most famous burlesque numbers, as she explains in a flashback that she's—shockingly—really a nationally famous peeler running away from the overwhelming demands of life as a paid exhibitionist. This revelation doesn't sit well with the old fashioned Randy. Can he overlook St. Cyr's racy past?
Runaway Girl is a product of classic Hollywood thinking—i.e. any famous pop culture personality can be harnessed for profit. The same holds true today, as a succession of singers, rappers, reality stars, and comics trickle into movies every year. We're not putting them down. Some can actually act, particularly the comics. But St. Cyr can't. Emotively, she's flatter than a fruit roll-up. It pains us to admit that, because we think she's a celestial wonder. But there you have it. Even worse, this was her seventh full length film, so it probably represents the height of her acting skills. Woof. You have a choice. You can either avoid this turkey or watch it expressly to see St. Cyr with motion and sound, rather than merely as an amazing pin-up. We have some nice production photos below to help you make up your mind. Runaway Girl premiered in the U.S. today in 1965.