Mar 9, 2011

Toys Are Not for Children

Immediately after receiving a reader entitled Misogyny in the Western Philosophical Tradition recommended to me by Ty E, I noticed a blurb from the works of Schopenhauer which read "big children their whole life long". What I didn't realize, however, was just how in tune the "misogynist" texts written by Schopenhauer were with Stanley Brassloff's Toys Are Not for Children. Released on a double feature disc from a vanguard in schlock, Something Weird Video, Toys Are Not for Children is possibly the most shocking film I've seen in lieu of lowered standards to date. On a blind whim I decided to watch this film remembering nothing but the poster art that titillated me and left me drooling for an indication as to what would go in in such a picture. Opening with a dimly lit outline of a bed with writhing legs atop it, the camera pans slowly up the fair body to put on display a young female clutching and grinding with a large toy soldier, all the while moaning "daddy". This sets the tone quite nicely, even more so when Jamie's tyrannical mother bursts through the door, disgusted and furious. Spouting hostilities through clenched teeth -such as "unnatural" - (which corrupts the "daddy complex" further), Jamie soon grows up clinging onto the toys given to her by her father, carrying them with her even into her marriage to a boy named Charlie with whom she worked with in a toy store.

Complications arise on the honeymoon when Jamie refuses to make love to Charlie. Being a man of sexual impulse, the same as Jamie's father, Charlie soon drifts apart from his disconnected wife and starts visiting clubs. What else could a man do when dating a true-to-life doll such as Jamie. Why, she begs to be tucked in and refuses to sleep without her toys, a child through and throughout. Shown during stumbling flashback sequences, light is shed upon Charlie and Jamie's relationship, even highlighting a playful game of chase which is interrupted upon the discovery of naked lovers in the brush. Scarring and frightening Jamie, she runs home to her mother, sobbing. Charlie follows suit but is greeted by a knife-wielding mother who is all too eager to console her unnatural daughter. Her entire life, Jamie has been running from sex, whether it be hormonal invasion or wedlock advances. It takes a real snake and an aspiration to reunite with her father to get the pants off Jamie and when this finally happens, Toys Are Not for Children receives a turbulent makeover and leaves you stranded into some kind of torturous waters. When it comes down to brass tacks, Jamie Godard is another victim whose innocence is spoiled without the proper helping of masculinity to guide her throughout childhood. When hooker friend Pearl comments on being without father - "I didn't have a dad and I turned out just fine!" - the class of misogynists quietly snicker.

It is the involvement of this character, Pearl, that shapes Jamie's future endeavors with various "Johns" and "pulling tricks". Armed with a childlike sense of wonder and a face contorted of salient glee, Jamie arms her complex into her "unnatural" career path and plays twisted lolita games with her clients. You cannot simply classify Toys Are Not for Children as exploitation for it is not guilty of any recurring facet of the idea. It is an archaic figure of disturbing qualities, sure, but that doesn't stoop the films standards down to the level of garbage. Toys Are Not for Children has taste and is a mature looks into the female condition, starved of masculine nutrients her whole life and force-fed brutish feminism and hatred. Edna Godard, Jamie's atrocious mother, couldn't even predict the horrible events forthcoming. "He still thinks you're a baby!!" she scowls during the opening of the feature. This strikes a tune that resonates until the very end, the final scene in which Jamie's eyes glaze over to that of a doll's lifeless eyes, these being her instrument of comfort throughout her life up to this point. Marcia Forbes has the role of Jamie down pat. It is an absolutely incredible performance when you notice the balance of innocence and easy virtue she puts forth. Rather, her vicissitude into steaming harlot is entirely credible as the playful promiscuity is a path I've seen countless women wander on. The transformation alone is evident in a simple hair cut; from long-haired daddy's girl to darling stylish "daddy's girl" who moonlights as a bashful objector. 

Toys Are Not for Children is a film experience lavish with substance but lacking in a dynamic style. Directed in 1972, I wouldn't expect much in technical achievement but all in a consistent storytelling. This sexy shocker falls victim to its lack of narrative adhesive; you will find this out in due time as scenes transition without mention to past occurrences. Though martyr to stubborn editing, Toys Are Not for Children is a wonderful film boasting a crude and untamed view at the standard of women afflicted with an unfortunate, selective case of being raised by a single mother. What lies in store for the characters within is honestly harrowing and of the utmost importance. Stanley Brassloff's film is further evidence that once a woman topples over into the territory of sluts, there is no turning back. The very feminine nature behind this work aids the testament to "loss of innocence" more so than films made of a similar caliber decades later - truly ahead of its time. To close on a note of reprisal, as Schopenhauer put in his philosophical texts, "in a word, they are big children all their life long - a kind of intermediate stage between the child and the full grown man, who is 'man' in the strict sense of the word." Toys Are Not for Children is unequivocally a staggering experience and a key example of retro cinema done masterfully.



Anonymous said...

Now I'll have to seek this one out. Great review (and screenshots).

There's more truth to Schopenhauer's "On Women" than there is in a thousand post-women's lib treatises on how men can improve their relationships by sucking up to women more.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

When i saw the title i immediately thought of that other odd, edgy cult item from the same year with a similar title "Children Shouldn`t Play With Dead Things", i`m surprised you haven`t reveiwed that one on this site.