Sex Kittens Go To College (1960)
With a title like that one shouldn’t enter into viewing this movie with expectations of Wellesian genius (although Sex Kittens Go To College does have a somewhat distant connection to Orson) but is it too much to ask that someone actually read the script before committing it to celluloid? Summarizing the plot for this ridiculous romp is as challenging as watching it, but here goes: When Collins College needs a new chair for their science department they turn to their prized ten foot tall mechanical man computer SAM Thinko. Out pops the name Dr. Mathilda West (Mamie Van Doren) who has 17 degrees, speaks an equal number of languages, and nicely fills a sweater to match. She also comes with a mysterious past that (sort of) figures into the hilarity that follows. At the same time two low IQ gangster types, assuming Thinko to be human, are unhappy with his muscling in on the race horse action. School football star Woo Woo Grabowski (played by none other than Woo Woo Grabowski) has two problems: His sleepwalking is causing him to activate Thinko-and therefore predicting the winning horses with uncanny accuracy-and he’s unable to maintain consciousness when confronted by the opposite sex. Academic dean Dr. Myrtle Carter (Pamela Mason) has her own issues, chief amongst them her unrequited desire for Professor and inventor of Thinko Dr. Zorch (Louis Nye), while foreign exchange student Suzanne (Mijanou Bardot, younger sister of you know who) seems to cuddle up to anyone who can help her with her book on understanding the American male. Good luck with that. Added into the mix is student Jody (Tuesday Weld) and campus advisor George (Martin Milner).
That’s a lot of acting gravitas for such a jumbled mess but it doesn’t stop there. Jackie Googan, four years away from his career turnaround as Uncle Fester is on board as Admiral McFortune, a lecherous but well to do benefactor of the college, while John Carradine, whose career was on a definite downslide, portrays Professor Watts who, like half the campus, is also enamored with Dr. West. Look also for cameos by Charles Chaplin Jr. and Harold Lloyd Jr.
And then there’s Vampira and Conway Twitty. Explaining her role as Etta Toodie stretches the bonds of credibility while as least Twitty is briefly seen and heard as a stage performer doing what he does best. Come to think of it Vampira, who undresses and dances for the inanimate Thinko (don’t ask) is also doing what she’s best suited for.
Sex Kittens Go To College is a tough movie to explain and an even tougher one to evaluate. Is it well made? That’s a resounding no. Is it entertaining? No really, and in fact much of it is cringe worthy. But fans of these sorts of sub genre movies are a forgiving and curious bunch, so if you are looking for an oddly fascinating bit of weirdness, Sex Kittens Go To College might be just the diversion you’re looking for.
Trivia bit! Yes, there is a connection to Welles. Vampira, who in her earlier days worked with Howard Hawks and Mae West and later shared a routine with famed stripper Lili St. Cyr, once dated Mr. Welles. According to legend even while the wunderkind of Hollywood was involved with any number of beautiful starlets he maintained an apartment for her, and the two often traveled together.