For my upcoming work on Shout! Factory’s Women In Cages Collection, I finally get to share more of the radiant charm of actress Judy Brown. Shot on June 17th, 2006, the interview was originally planned as part of a larger Jack Hill documentary that will probably never be finished — at least as a stand-alone project. The veteran actress of over one dozen films, selflessly gave us about 2 hours of her time on a Saturday afternoon, it felt criminal to use a mere 20 seconds of that day in what later became American Grindhouse. I was still thrilled to include her, even if only for a brief moment.
But now, I am happy to say that more of our interview will be included in From Manila With Love — an all-new retrospective documentary on the making of Big Doll House and The Big Bird Cage being released in the Women In Cages Collection on June 21st as part of the ongoing Roger Corman Cult Classics Series. Additionally, an interview with actress Roberta Collins is also included in this new 2-part documentary. Shot seven years before her death, the footage has remained unseen until now.
Judy Brown was one of the last of the contract players for Universal Pictures during the decline of the Studio System. In 1970, she made her controversial debut in Threesome as Ursula, an American student in Denmark who becomes the object of an obsessive lesbian love affair. To the shock of both she and her family, a body double was used for more explicit scenes (it also lead to the suspension from her Universal contract). Although she never sued, Judy did manage to get an injunction against the producers and place a disclaimer at the end of the film which stated the bait and switch. It was this brouhaha that lead to her casting by director Jack Hill in Big Doll House.
Following BDH, she did a second stint in Corman County Jail with Women In Cages (which was shot on the same Manila prison set). Her ubsequent roles in Slaughter’s Big Ripoff, Hot Potato and Willie Dynamite ensured that a legion of admirers would fall in love with the auburn hair-colored beauty. During her impressive career, she dated the likes of Henry Kissinger and Elvis Presley before retiring from show business in the early ’80s to raise her family. “I have no regrets about the films I made. I was in it for the adventure.”, says the actress during our interview.
I leave you with “Heaven and Paradise” performed by Judy Brown when she was just fourteen years old and released on the Fifo label in 1961. A dreamy, pouty-voiced, doo-wop ballad that reached number two on the regional charts — the song feels like something from a Scorsese soundtrack and I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Judy continued with her musical career. Next up, you can catch her in Mark Hartley’s Machete Maidens Unleashed!, which Dark Sky Films will release later this summer.