Saturday, May 20, 2017

173. Policewomen

173. Policewomen (1974)
Director: Lee Frost
Writers: Lee Frost and Wes Bishop
From: Cult Cinema

A police woman goes undercover in to expose a female mafia that’s smuggling gold.

Look at the year, look at the title, look at the quick description. What you think happens is exactly what happens. Only, it’s done with, I don’t want to say “panache,” or “style,” but there is a certain wit throughout.

The movie starts with the titular (no pun intended… for three whole minutes of screen time. Really) Policewoman Policewomen Lacy Bond booking a prisoner. There’s a prison break where Lacy single-handedly fights off most of the escaping prisoners but, in the end, two escape—some rando and Jeannie Bell from TNT Jackson. The nudity three minutes in is from Bell and her accomplices changing into their escape clothes.

Due to her performance foiling the break, Lacy is offered a position doing fieldwork to take down an emergent “female mafia” that’s exclusively recruiting women and led by the 70-year-old crime lord Maude. They’re smuggling gold into the United States and risking the possibility of crashing the market to make Glenn Beck cry.

Yes, I want that Netflix original series right now.

Lacy infiltrates the group that Bell and her co-escapee have joined and is spotted by the pair. However, Bell offers a cover story claiming to recognize Lacy from a stint they did back in Chicago. Bell later reveals that she’s Secret Service and working to take down the organization as well.

The rest of the movie goes as you’d expect—Lacy and Bell get themselves involved in the big score, signal the cops, get caught, fight their way out, save the day. What I’m leaving out is that Lacy doesn’t infiltrate the group until an hour into this hour and forty minute film.

What happens in the interim is Lacy proving she’s tough enough to handle field work, her male co-workers being either dismissive or patronizing, and her hooking up with the patronizing one because, given the options, at least he recognizes she can do the work.

So this is the kind of movie I’m supposed to really hate—cheap sexism, formulaic plot that they don’t even follow, and an interminable running time—but, and maybe this is just because I’m coming off of watching The Manipulator, I kinda liked it.

There’s a certain vim to the movie and, even though I want to avoid the word, a charm as well. As Good Bad Flicks notes in their review, the star Sondra Currie adds a lot to the picture and there are moments of real wit to be found here. I’m actually surprised at my enjoyment of the movie because it’s from the director of Chain Gang Women which was really uncomfortable. Whereas that was rapey exploitation, this feels like it’s winking a bit at the exploitation tropes, that even its moments of sexism and racism are done with an ironic edge, the joke being that anyone would take this seriously.

The racism, though, is pretty out of left-field and shocking, possibly because it’s so concentrated. It’s literally all in these thirty seconds. That’s a bit much all at once.

Obviously this isn’t for the kids or safe-for-work, but it has its own campy charm and I recommend it on that level. Since it’s so formulaic, you can just have it on in the background while you’re doing other things and still not miss anything—the dramatic moments are cued by the music. It’s also nice for a beer and pretzels evening with friends, and sometimes that’s all you want.

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