Girls on the Loose, Girls Will Be Boys, and a few more films

Girls on the Loose (1958)
Streaming free at Internet Archive

Baddies wearing masks overpower everyone else, grab the money, and get away in a laundry truck. Inside the truck as it rolls, they take off their masks, and guess what? They're all dames.

Girls on the Loose is a better-than-average gangster movie, with gorgeous babes playing Cagney and Bogart and Edward G Robinson's roles. It's written and played well, and it's disorienting, borderline subversive, just seeing women allowed to be tough guys in this genre.

Directed by Paul Henreid ("Welcome back to the fight. This time I know our side will win.")

#291  [archive]
MAY 15, 2024

Verdict: YES. 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

A Girl's Own Story (1984)
Available on DVD
from your local library

My knowledge about being an adolescent girl is second-hand and limited, but this short from Jane Campion seems about right.

It's set in the 1960s, Campion's adolescence, and it's mostly plotless. Girls scream at the Beatles, get pissy at each other, form their own band, and come to the edge of sexual experimentation. There's lots of awkwardness and incipient riot grrrlism intermingled with Catholic school, the gross-out relationship between a girl's parents, etc. 

Smart, honest, painful, and it ends with an eerie pop tune performed by the cast.

Verdict: YES.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Girls Will Be Boys (1934)
Unavailable legally.

Duke Cyril is a wealthy bastard who might be nearing the end, so he summons his heir, a grandson he's never met. The grandson is actually a granddaughter, but the Duke hates women, so she decides to visit him in drag. 

There's verbal sparring, a bit of singing and dancing, a workout in the gym, and then a swim in the pond, at which point her ruse is revealed.

This is an old-school British comedy of manners, not brilliant or anything, but frequently funny. And when leading lady Dolly Haas wears a suit and tie and speaks in a slightly lower voice … it gets your attention, or at least it got mine.

Verdict: YES.

Trivia: Haas was the wife of cartoonist and caricaturist Al Hirschfeld.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Give a Girl a Break (1953)
Streaming free at Internet Archive

When the female lead in a Broadway play quits a few days before opening night, the choreographer holds open auditions and hopes he can turn some unknown performer into a star. 

Zero laughs, bad acting, brassy music, lots of color, and lots of songs. The film is not unpleasant and I didn't turn it off, but my mind wandered the solar system. 

Marge & Gower Champion, Debbie Reynolds, Bob Fosse, Richard Anderson. Music by Burton Lane; lyrics by Ira Gershwin. Directed by Stanley Donen.

Verdict: NO.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Gizmo! (1977)
Streaming free at YouTube

A collection of early 20th century film clips, in which inventors show and tell what they've constructed, or people perform stupid people tricks. The inventions all fail. Some of the stunts are amusing.

But the clips come straight from an archive, with no research or explanation, so we're told nothing about these people, not even their names. It's overlaid with gaudy pop music, and empty narration that explains nothing.

Here's your chance to laugh at anonymous people's dreams.

Verdict: NO. 

♦ ♦ ♦  

The Gladiator (1986)
Streaming free at YouTube

The title is not literal.

We're in modern-day Los Angeles, where someone in a big sedan is driving around the city, forcing other cars into wrecks, usually fatal. The cops think it's just a drunk driver, but obviously this is something more nefarious than merely stupidity + alcohol.

After the next wreck kills his brother, Ken Wahl armor-plates his pick-up truck and goes looking for vengeance.

This is a made-for-TV movie that aired on ABC, but it's by Abel Ferrara (Ms 45, 4:44 Last Day on Earth). The story is dumb, most of the acting seems barely awake, and Ferrara keeps his usual perversions and violence ratcheted way down, almost off, for the small screen.

It's inarguably a bad movie, but something still shines.

Co-stars Nancy Allen, Robert Culp, Rosemary Forsyth, Stan Shaw, Rick Dees.

Verdict: YES, barely.


• • • Coming attractions • • •     

The Glass House (1972)
The Glass Key (1935)
The Glass Key (1942)
The Glass Menagerie (1951)
The Glass Wall (1953)

... plus schlock, shorts, and surprises

— — —
Now accepting movie recommendations,
starting with the letter 'H'.
Just add a comment, below.
— — —

Illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Arguments & recommendations are welcome, but no talking once the lights dim, and only real butter on the popcorn, not that fake yellow stuff. 
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