Color, 1965, 52 mins. 41 secs.
Directed by Doris Wishman
Starring Jeffrey Niles, Sandra Sinclair, Lee Abell, Warrene Gray
Pop Cinema (DVD) (US R0 /NTSC)


Though The Prince and the Nature Girlthe title The Prince and the Nature Girlof this nudist camp film implies a take-off of the Marilyn Monroe vehicle The Prince and the Showgirl, it's really a nudie cutie take on The Prince and the Pauper, sort of, with low-voltage twin confusion running rampant at a naturist resort. This is actually the last of the nudist camp films churned out by the beloved and highly idiosyncratic Doris Wishman (following films like Nude on the Moon, Blaze Starr Goes Nudist, and Gentlemen Prefer Nature Girls), and for decades it was also the rarest with only a single German-language print surviving.

In a fictitious seaside kingdom, a rich prince (Niles) lives in a castle (that looks more like a plantation) but believes he should be employed in case the peasants revolt. To achieve his goal, he slips out five days a week to go get a job in the city at a business office where he... doesn't do much, apparently. On the weekend he takes off to Sunny Palms Lodge, a pretty ragged-looking resort for the "avid sun enthusiast" where everyone swims and plays volleyball and archery all day. Meanwhile two twins starting new jobs at the office, blonde Eve and brunette Sue Pringle (Sinclair), have gotten to crash for a year in the apartment of traveling friend Mary, with Eve catching the prince's eye as his lazy secretary. A chance weekend meeting at Sunny Palms between Eve and "Mr. Prince" (the only attendee who insists on wearing shorts at all times) sends them strolling through lots of outtakes from Doris's previous films and scintillating shots of naked people seesawing and feeding ducks. When Eve gets back home, Sue wonders The Prince and the Nature Girlwhether blondes really have more fun -- and since she has a crush on the prince, she decides to do a hair color switcheroo to nab the man she wants.

A The Prince and the Nature GirlWishman film to the core, The Prince and the Nature Girl studiously avoids showing characters speaking on camera (all the easier to loop everything afterwards) and basks in long, languorous images of smiling naked people with '60s hairdos passing their afternoons in Utopian harmony. It's also one of her shortest films and probably qualifies as more of a glorified short at just over 52 minutes, which means it also doesn't wear out its welcome. None of the actors are really recognizable, nor does the film really require them to do more than hit their marks when they're walking around or staring close to the camera.

As mentioned above, this film was considered lost until the discovery of a German print featuring only a dubbed dialogue track. Fortunately according to the liner notes and packaging here (courtesy of Wishman biographer Michael Bowen), a text copy of all the dialogue surviving courtesy of the film's submission to the New York censorship board; that made it possible to create a new English track for the Pop Cinema DVD, which isn't all that jarring since Wishman usually had canned, disembodied voices in her films anyway. It's all set to a bouncy, pseudo-Herb Alpert score that works well enough, too. The Prince and the Nature GirlImage quality is dependent entirely on the source, of course, it's not in the most amazing shape and has its share of color fading and scratches, but this is literally the only game in town for this particular title.

Also included is an audio commentary with Michael Rasso, John Fedele, and Bowen covering the director's background ("a national treasure!"), the scenes shot inside her The Prince and the Nature Girlapartment, the status of female directors at the time, and the shooting locations (with stock Florida shots from the real Sunny Palms turning among among the main New Jersey locales). Other extras include a brief Atomic TV segment with Wishman (4m24s) and Bowen, a "Nature Girl" nudist short (13m43s) from the legendary Dan Sonney, a "Nudism" educational short (10m53s) with lots of peek-a-boo shots and scientific text inserts, a 1941 "Rock Lodge" short (14m37s) from the National Convention of American Sunbathers Association in New Jersey (interestingly the earliest piece but also the only one with outright frontal nudity), and a trailer for Wishman's Hideout in the Sun.

Reviewed on September 21, 2017.