Movie Review – When Women Lost Their Tails (Italy, 1972)

It’s fairly common to turn any film genre into a comedy. Romantic comedies, horror comedies, action comedies…. Combining one specific type of comedy with another film genre isn’t that common. You can’t just shove jokes into the script; the comedic subtypes have their own rules that must be followed. A “sex farce” must have jokes about sex, and silly romantic situations. Combining it with another film genre isn’t going to be easy. Especially when you’re trying to combine it with something serious, like a satire of capitalism………
When Women Lost Their Tails is a direct sequel to When Women Had Tails (1970). Luckily, you don’t need to have seen that movie in order to follow this one. The group of cavemen from the end of that movie are living in the rib cage of a brontosaurus skeleton (don’t ask); the lovely Fili (Senta Berger) is serving as sort of a “wife” to all five. Well, four – or maybe four and a half: one of the cavemen is clearly gay, and has no interest in bedding her.

The cavemen are morons of the “Three Stooges” variety – their ineptness is more of the slapstick variety than actual stupidity. For example, they’ve build a ladder to climb up to their home, but haven’t figured out that you can use it to climb down, too! This works to the benefit of a chimpanzee, who has figured out he can use their plummeting to bust open coconuts. The men are also lazy; much of their day consists of walking back and forth, occasionally attempting to do some hunting and gathering.

This is an idyll for everyone except Fili, who spends her free time avoiding the amorous attentions of the men and wondering if there will ever be something better. Her thoughts are answered when Ham (Lando Buzzanca) shows up. He’s tall, handsome, and much more intelligent than all five cavemen put together. A con artist, he introduces the men to currency, as well as private property.

Eyeing Fili, Ham rather quickly decides he wants her, and offers to “purchase” some of her time from the men. He doesn’t think to ask Fili – but it’s clear she’s OK with it. Ham is much better looking than any of the others, and he actually shows some interest in her pleasure. OK, not much, but it’s better than the Nothing she was getting from the others.

Well, one thing leads to another, and our Neanderthal Five soon find themselves bought out of their home, and working on building a collection of huts – “Eden Acres” – that they won’t be able to afford to live in. Especially when Ham starts telling them about all the “optional” add-ons that come with the huts – like air. Fili herself is eventually just as bored and frustrated as she was before, so when another shyster comes along, telling her he can introduce her to a line of work where she can be her own boss, well, she can’t help but be interested in this newest profession….

Well, what can you say?

The socio-economic satire is blatantly obvious; the sex farce does what it can to keep it from being dull. The acting stops just short of being outright hammy. The production values are on par with, say, a community college drama club. Nothing great, but they serve their purpose.

There are two things that save this movie. First, there’s the lovely Senta Berger, Europe’s answer to Raquel Welch. In When Women Had Tails, she didn’t get to show off her abilities much. Here, her hair is much nicer (did they have hair stylists in the Paleolithic?), she’s not covered in dirt and mud, and her outfit is much skimpier….. If you like female eye candy, you won’t be disappointed.

Secondly, the score is by the great Bruno Nicolai. You can’t get much better than that! I can best describe it as “sprightly”. It’s lively, uptempo, and upbeat. It lets you know that you should take nothing in the movie with even the slightest bit of seriousness.

It’s all very silly, and a pleasant enough diversion.

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