Tuesday, September 08, 2009


In my review of FRÜHREIFEN-REPORT back in February I erroneously credited the producer-director team of Wolf Hartwig and Ernst Hofbauer as the makers of the West German abortion report IN TROUBLE when the real culprits were producer Rob Houwer and director Eberhard Schröder. Despite what the IMDb and other online sources claim, however, this is not the movie that was released in the U.S. by Group 1 Films as GIRLS IN TROUBLE (1974); I have no idea what that movie’s true identity is, but I’ve seen the trailer and it’s definitely not IN TROUBLE, which was actually released stateside by United International Pictures in 1974 as THE JOY OF LOVE. With nothing in the ads to indicate this film’s true subject matter, drive-in patrons expecting a sexy skin flick were probably gagging on their green meatball sandwiches 10 minutes into this thing.

The original title translates into English as PARAGRAPH 218: WE HAVE ABORTIONS, MR. PROSECUTOR and refers to the German law criminalizing abortions. In all fairness, despite its share of sleazy and queasy moments -- I’d expect nothing less from screenwriter Günther Heller, who also penned FRÜHREIFEN-REPORT and all of the SCHULMÄDCHEN-REPORT films -- IN TROUBLE seems to have a feminist idea or two in its head and isn’t the reprehensible garbage it would’ve been in the hands of Heller-Hofbauer. Pic opens with blonde stunner Sybil Danning being taken into a room of a doctor’s office, helped out of her clothing and into stirrups for an abortion while two narrators with conflicting agendas address the viewer:

MALE NARRATOR: “A woman who destroys her embryo or consents to the destruction of her embryo by another is liable to be punished by law. The attempt is punishable. Any other who destroys the embryo of a mother-to-be is liable to be punished by law. When giving a mother-to-be the means for destroying the embryo or procuring the same is liable for punishment under the law.”

FEMALE NARRATOR: “The worldwide abortion laws were created by man centuries ago. The women concerned were not consulted. Today, women have begun to revolt. Modern woman wants to be consulted on all subjects concerning her life and welfare. Therefore, the blow for equality has been struck. The females of the world are beginning action to erase the archaic laws of subjection. The most important undertaking is to free the woman’s body from the courts of law. Women must have the option of their pregnancy without the shadow of outmoded laws. The female revolution has begun!”

Cut to a courtroom, where elderly amateur abortionist Mrs. Wilson (played by Rosl Mayr, a regular in these films) and young Krista Bernard are on trial for terminating Miss Bernard’s pregnancy. The film then follows the standard “report” format, presenting ten or more case studies having something to do with the hot-button topic of abortion.

1. We follow Krista to Mrs. Wilson’s apartment (which is strewn with baby dolls) and watch as the crusty old woman spreads the mother-to-be out on a kitchen table, goes to work on her with a big pair of tweezers, and then sends the poor girl home to hemorrhage and nearly die.

2. Gabby Bennett, a 13-year old schoolgirl, is on her way home with a Mother’s Day cake when she is pulled into a car by three creeps, driven to a remote area and raped. Pregnancy results, and when her outraged parents try to arrange for a special abortion, they’re denied permission and told that Gabby will just have to give birth. A clinic in Sweden eventually takes care of the problem.

3. The half dozen members of a bowling team who have been sleeping with the p.y.t. Anita are dismayed to learn that she’s pregnant, and all try to handle the abortion in their own wacky way: one guy gets her to jump out of a barn into a pile of hay, another lets her ride bare-assed on the back of his motorcycle as he drives it over potholes and down bumpy roads, a third makes her sit in a barrel of hot water, etc. It turns out Anita’s not pregnant at all, just faking it to squeeze money out of the mostly married louts.

4. We follow a mobile abortion clinic (a panel truck with a dirty operating room in the back) to several of its drop-off and pickup points. A gynecologist then appears onscreen to explain some of the things that could go wrong during an abortion: “One goes in and pulls something. A tiny leg breaks off. Then we get something else in the forceps. There are other problems. The body comes and the head is too big. It won’t come out. To get it out, we have to crush it.”

[I doubt too many guys scored at the drive-in while this one was playing]

5. Sexy secretary Ula Sanders is impregnated by her slimy married boss, and heads to England to get an abortion; the names and addresses of a dozen London abortion clinics scroll by slowly on screen as she arrives in town. On her way to the clinic, she meets Mr. Right, they decide to have the child, and they all live happily ever after.

6. This one has Günther Heller written all over it. An American soldier in Europe brings his pregnant German wife to a sleazy doctor who takes one long, lustful look at her fine face and bodacious bod and agrees to perform the illegal abortion. Tip: if there’s a bar in his office and he has to pour himself a stiff one before he operates, you should probably seek a second opinion. The not-so-good doctor locks the husband out of the operating room, drugs the wife, swigs booze while snapping pictures of her exposed crotch, rapes her while she’s in the stirrups, and then performs the abortion so the couple can’t legally do anything to him without incriminating themselves in the process.

7. Rebelling against her strict religious upbringing, 16-year old Swiss Miss Angela Seberg (whose father is the town mayor) indulges in premarital sex, gets knocked up, then conspires with her scandal-fearing mother to go behind dad’s back and coerce the family doctor to perform the abortion. Their sourpuss priest gets the last word.

Back in the courtroom, Mrs. Wilson is sentenced to 2 years in prison and Krista gets 3 months under paragraph 218. Minutes later, the judge gets into a car driven by his wife, who's played by – surprise! - Sybil Danning, who we saw undergoing the abortion at the start of the film. “The female revolution has begun.”

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