The 'Imp'probable Mr. Wee Gee

The 'Imp'probable Mr. Wee Gee

Withholding a star rating because I watched this in chunks while suffering from bouts of insomnia over the past several nights. Also because this is one of the strangest movies I've ever seen.

I first became familiar with the photography of Weegee after reading Silver and Ursini's Noir Style which cites Weegee's 1945 collection of photographs Naked City as being an influence on the look of film noir (as well as the source for the film and TV series of the same name). I became an instant fan.

In 1966, just two years before his death, Weegee starred as himself in this movie that is ostensibly either a nudie cutie or a comic biopic, but in effect is neither. The 67 year old Weegee, looking a good 20 years older with his wrinkled skin and bulldog jowls, gets busted by the police for having sexual relations with a department store mannequin. The disgusted police officers listen to a recording of Weegee explaining how he ended up where he is and a flashback ensues telling the story of Weegee's life. Well, really just a brief tale about him being a toddler peeping tom then fast forward to him chasing a mannequin he falls in love with from the U.S. to London and Paris. Along the way he stays in a haunted house where he reads a newspaper in the bathtub (wearing a bathing suit either for modesty or for oddity), gets chased near the Louvre, eats a lot of french fries, goes to a barber to have a beard put on his face, photographs women in various states of undress, and oggles a few other women, both of the real and show room dummy variety.

Shot silent with ever present narration from Weegee, it definitely has the production value and form of a nudie cutie, but content wise, there's very little actual nudity. To fill the hour or so runtime there are insert shots of Weegee's photographs, particularly his later era "experimental" photos of which he seems particularly proud and amused, and a whole lot of lighthearted commentary on European culture by Mr. Wee Gee.

I can't figure out if this is a vanity project, a goof, or what, and conducting a cursory internet search hasn't given me any more info on why this movie exists. Weegee neither wrote nor directed this movie, but surely he petitioned for it? It feels like a direct line into the humor and sex centers in the brain of a weird old man, which could be hilarious, but in this case is mostly just odd, at times verging on off-putting. That said, maybe the key to understanding, I mean really deeply understanding, the entirety of the 20th century is all contained in this one movie. I'll let y'all know when I've figured it out.