Sondra Currie stars as Lacy Bond, and the last name is no coincidence. As much as Policewomen, the 1974 flick from writers Lee Frost and Wes Bishop, and also directed by Frost, is an exploitation buddy cop crime women in prison gangster martial arts LA story, it’s also a James Bond ripoff. And, unlike all the Bond films, the camera keeps rolling during the naughty bits in this shitty gem.
Policewomen opens with a jailbreak. Despite the ass-kicking efforts of Lacy Bond, two inmates, Pam and Janette (Jeannie Bell and Laurie Rose) stage a spectacular escape. They get naked while they’re doing it, too, staking this flick’s gratuitous nudity claims early (this film actually has much less skin than I expected). For her above and beyond efforts, Lacy is recruited to do some plainclothes work. The squad she joins is investigating a gang led by Maude (Elizabeth Stuart, in her only appearance), an aged, foul-mouthed, dried up, wrinkly old prune of a godfather. Before we get to Maude and her gang, though, I need to write about Lacy Bond’s new colleagues.
With the exception of her boss, Inspector Martell (Chuck Daniel), every male cop she meets is an unapologetic pig. They don’t make offhanded sexist remarks without realizing they’re doing so. The shit they say to Lacy is downright hostile. She returns their fire, and then backs up her words with deeds, but that’s not the point. These men are terrible human beings. One of the rules here at Missile Test is that I do not retroactively apply today’s morals to the past. That’s unfair to those at that time, who are temporally incapable of defending themselves. But even in 1974 these dudes were Neanderthals. And, to show that Frost and Bishop weren’t being clever storytellers, that they weren’t putting a mirror to society, they went and had Lacy sleep with one of these men (Chuck Daniel as Inspector Mitchell) for no other reason than that women in the workforce are always looking for a man. Yeesh.
Still, there’s no schlock quite like exploitation schlock. I find flicks like this hilarious.
There’s been a massive dip in the LA area of the types of crime committed by women. Prostitution, etc. What is happening is Maude is hoovering up all the local talent, stashing them on her compound, teaching them all karate, then using them to smuggle gold bars into the country.
Maude’s compound is a real treat. All the women wear nothing but bikinis, and the only man around is Maude’s boytoy husband, Doc (Phil Hoover, whose performance can best be described as ‘elegant Mongo’). Stuart as Maude is a treat herself, as her voice by tobacco is so absurd as to be difficult to believe. But it’s real. Her voice is so awesome, in fact, that it makes up for her dead reads.
Dead reads are an important part of this film, as is dialogue that is the very definition of amateurish. Some of the dialogue in this film, and I am not exaggerating, is every bit as bad as that found in Birdemic. How in the world is this an entertaining film?
Because Frost and company never let more than a few minutes pass by without some action. Shitty car chases, shitty karate fights, shitty lady wrestling (completely different than shitty karate fights), a shitty sex scene...it’s relentless. It’s also exactly what this film needs. This is a shitty film that delivers on the promise of its idea by not being boring, ever. Every single time I was ready to reach for my phone this flick got interesting again. That’s a pretty swift pace for a film from the mid-1970s.
The film wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining without its star, however. Currie was a bundle of energy, a real firecracker, feisty, dazzling, and all the other things women don’t like to be called. Her character is trying to get ahead in a man’s world, and so was Currie, for that matter. This film is about a woman succeeding where men fail, but it’s a stumbling enlightenment, and Currie still had to put up with some shit. Her performance was plagued by similar deficiencies as others in the cast, but she was still perfect for this role. Her character was so rich, so full of what makes shitty cinema special, that I’m disappointed this film did not spawn at least one sequel. It was all there, and Bishop (who also produced), let it go. Oh, well. Lightning in a bottle.
For being outrageous and absurd, despite being very, very cheap, and only featuring one police woman, Policewomen shoots into the top quarter of the Watchability Index, displacing Damnation Alley at #62. If only Sondra Currie and George Peppard had done a shitty movie together.