Shitty Movie Sundays: Las Vegas Lady

Crown International Pictures is a repository of crap. For some, that’s a bad thing. For shitty movie fans, we misguided many, that makes Crown something heroic. It’s too bad they went belly up in 1992.

Many, many years before that happened, however, in 1975, they graced us with a cheap Ocean’s 11 ripoff, wherein a hooker, a waitress, and a trapeze artist plan and execute a casino heist. There are even shades of Charlie’s Angels, as the trio are given their marching orders by a mysterious man who lurks in the shadows. Although, this flick came out a year before Charlie’s Angels premiered. Does that make this film groundbreaking? Hell, no.

Stella Stevens plays Lucky, a past-her-prime prostitute who works casino floors. She knows her time is running out, and is looking for one big score so she can finally get out of Vegas. Her favorite floor to work is the Circus Circus, whose owners and operators were gracious enough to allow this pile of trash to be filmed there.

The other two members of the heist gang are Carol (Lynne Moody), and Lisa (Linda Scruggs).

The plan is so simple that it would shorten the running time of Ocean’s 11 by about an hour if this plot were used in that classic flick. But, it’s a shitty movie. Screenwriter Walter Dallenbach and director Noel Nosseck (no stranger to Shitty Movie Sundays) had only scraps of talent between the two of them, along with a similar budget.

The casino is run by Eversull (George DiCenzo), a nasty man who is also running guns for the mob as a side business. He keeps the cash from these illicit transactions in his office. His office happens to be on the same floor as a private highroller craps game. So, here’s the plan:

Lisa, the trapeze artist, is going to climb up the outside of the Circus Circus, hand over hand on a rope (which is a genuinely impressive stunt), and enter Eversull’s office from the outside, steal the money and unlock the office door. Carol, the waitress, who is working Las Vegas Lady movie posterthe highroller game, will then wheel a room service cart in, and Lisa will cram into the bottom of the cart with the loot. Then Carol will wheel out the cart to a waiting van, to be taken to the after-heist meetup. As for Lucky, whose role seems kind of superfluous at times, even though it is her plan, she is also at the highroller game buttering up a whale. Her character doesn’t have much to do until Dallenbach and Nosseck decide to mix things up.

There is also Lucky’s would-be beau, Vic (Stuart Whitman), a security guard at the Circus Circus. He could be expected to interfere with something like a casino heist, only he’s not too interested in doing his job. He’s an ex-cop, drummed off the force for insubordination. He’s also only a few months from earning his pension at the casino, and just couldn’t be bothered to care about anything. (Side note: Vic is set to get his pension after only ten years at the casino. I can’t believe it, but I’m jealous of a fictional character working a shitty job.)

Inevitable problems lead to conflict and denouement, and then the movie ends after a climax straight out of a contemporary tv crime show or western. In fact, there isn’t much in this flick that wasn’t cribbed from other sources. This would be much more tolerable had any of it been done well. Unfortunately, the problems at the top of the production trickled down into the rest of the film. Everything is done in such a lifeless manner, and so rote, that it feels as if no one involved really wanted to do this movie. It was a paycheck, and likely a small one.

The only person in the movie with the least bit of enthusiasm was DiCenzo. He played a decent bad guy, and an epic asshole. It wasn’t enough to save the film.

The setting comes close, though. Las Vegas is always a city in rapid transition, chasing the gambling dollar. We get to see how one casino tried to keep gamers interested. Then, there is the people watching. Its one of the more fruitful pursuits in Vegas, and this flick, bizarrely, provides some of that. It’s like a window into what my grandparents were getting up to on their vacations in the 1970s. In short, there were lots of cigarettes and a whole lot of polyester.

For its low effort, and for not doing anything all that interesting beyond showing the types of crowds and attractions at 1970s Circus Circus, Las Vegas Lady falls into the anonymous limbo regions of the Watchability Index, displacing LA Crackdown at #243. I watched this movie so you don’t have to.

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