Oct 252019

One Shocking Moment (IMDB) is a 1965 exploitation drama film, written and directed by Ted V. Mikels. Unlike some other movies discussed in this project, it has a coherent narrative and recorded dialog.

Newlyweds Cliff and Mindy leave their home town so Cliff can get a big corporate job in LA. They settle into an apartment complex. This is the sleazy side of the sixties when everybody smoked like chimneys and drank like fish, and men cheerfully belittled and objectified women. Cliff even does so right in front of his new wife, with only her mild objections. Cliff starts an affair with his boss’ secretary, while lonely Mindy drifts into an implied lesbian affair with her neighbor Tanya, a lesbian nightclub owner.

Tanya (Verne Martine) gets down to business

Tanya bears more than a slight resemblance to the implicitly lesbian nightclub manager Pepe in Satan in High Heels. She also manages a nightclub and smokes cigarettes with a holder. Her lesbianism is much more explicit, though her dress style isn’t at all masculine. While Pepe is tough but fair, Tanya is blatantly sadistic and predatory. She slaps her lover/employee Joanie across the face for complaining, then sets out to seduce Mindy after she’s abandoned by her husband.

Mindy: “How long were you married?”

Tanya: “Long enough to know I didn’t want a husband. I find I don’t always need a man to give me what I want.”

Tanya has a sideline as a pro domme, as shown in a set-piece. In this dialog-less scene in which she drives to an apartment, enters a room where a man is playing solitaire. After checking the money waiting in an envelope, she slips out of her white dress and reveals a black leotard and tights, to which she adds leather boots and gloves. She then binds and bullwhips the man. 

Later on, everybody has a boozy party at Tanya’s place, and Cliff starts making out with Joanie in the bedroom. Tanya isn’t having this. She stomps on Cliff’s hand with her high heel, sends Joanie out of the room, and starts dominating him. She wraps her belt around the back of his neck and slaps him in the face. “Your wife makes better love than you do.” He’s on the brink of punching her, but instead leaves the room and saves his wife from dancing topless in front of the party. 

Cliff (Gary Kent, credited as Philip Brady) about to fall under the spell of Tanya (Verne Martine)

One Shocking Moment is a tale of innocents in a corrupt world, and Tanya is presented as the embodiment of that, the predatory, masculinized, perverted woman. Her sadistic, domineering moments with Joanie and Mindy and her work as a pro domme are just aspects of that. The man she dominates is not characterized at all; we don’t even see his face. 

The narrative ends with the young couple reconciling, restating that a marriage succeeds or fails because of the man. Heterosexuality, monogamy, and proper gender roles are restored. Whatever involvement Mindy had with Tanya is because Cliff was ignoring her, not because of her own desires. Everybody treats her like a malleable child.

Director Ted V. Mikels has had a lengthy career in exploitation and low-budget cinema as a producer, writer and director. Most of the other people listed in the cast never appeared in anything else, at least under these names.

  3 Responses to “One Shocking Moment (1965): The Celluloid Dungeon”

  1. Interesting that the movie claims it is the husband who makes or breaks a marriage. Generally, the wife is blamed in American society.

    • It’s a subtle point, but the wife is presented as weak and easily led, and the husband failed to be a proper patriarch over her.

  2. […] The second act is Bonnie living with a older lesbian painter, Gerry, as a model, muse and lover. Bonnie jokingly called Gerry “Mommy.” Gerry isn’t exactly a shining role model for lesbian acceptance: she slaps Bonnie in the face during an argument, and later kills a man Bonnie wants to leave with. However, when people criticize her lesbianism, she stands tall in her identity, and there are moments of genuine affection between her and Bonnie. She’s not a monster like Tanya in One Shocking Moment. […]

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