Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released on April 1, 1956
69 minutes / 84 minutes (unrated)
Directed by Roger Corman
Written by David Stern
Cast: Marie Windsor, Beverly Garland, Carole Matthews, Jil Jarmyn, Mike ‘Touch’ Connors, Susan Cummings, Lou Place, Edward Nelson, Jonathan Haze
Yes indeed, it’s time for another Mini Cheese-athon, where my blogging friend Lindsey over at The Motion Pictures and I review a particular cheesy film from the 1950s or 1960s. This time, we ventured outside the usual sci-fi/horror confines and chose an equally-cheesy crime drama from 1956, a female take on the usual prison escapee story that featured enough laugh-out-loud remarks, rough-and-tumble girl fights, and swamp-water bathing scenes to satisfy any Liederkranz connoisseur.
Somewhere in the wilds of New Orleans, four bodacious broads behind bars—a tough brunette, a sensible blonde, a hot-tempered redhead, and a platinum-haired sexpot—escape out their open prison-cell window, hop into a conveniently-available car, and head to the swamps in search of the buried diamonds they’d left there earlier. Along the way they hijack a motorboat, taking a man and his date hostage, but what these femmes criminelle don’t know is that one of them is an undercover policewoman, planted within the group in hopes the other three will lead her to the stolen jewels.
This early Roger Corman production was low-budget all the way, but benefited from a cast featuring Beverly Garland, noir stalwart Marie Windsor, and Mike ‘Touch’ Connors (looking like a Bond-era Sean Connery), along with location shooting in the Louisiana swampland and worthy camerawork from rookie director Corman, who had the sense to keep the pace—and his camera—moving. The story was pure drive-in exploitation, and succeeded in holding my interest, but it tended to bog down at times, especially during its unnecessary Mardi Gras beginning, where repeated stock-footage clips of a chintzy parade had the power to put insomniacs to sleep.
But what kept me awake, and for me was the most engaging aspect of the film, was watching these four ladies bitch, gripe, and catfight their way from one end of the bayou to the other, while their prisoner happily watched it all play out before him. I especially loved how the threat of being put to death by these leggy crooks instilled absolutely no fear in Connors, and how at times he appeared to be both bemused and entertained by the whole thing. Frankly, all he had to do was sit back, remain tied to a tree, and wait for these ill-tempered harpies to just kill each other off.
Connors or no Connors, this was called Swamp Women for a reason: it was all about the ladies. Their wants, their needs, their desires, and of course, the dangers they’d dealt with along the way, from alligators and snakes to broken fingernails and the agony of wearing men’s pants. And speaking of those pants, do you think they wanted to be stuck wearing MAN pants the entire film? Not a chance! So being the enterprising darlings that they were, they took their knives and cut those things into more comfortable—and more eye-pleasing for Connors and I—jungle short shorts.
Though I wish I’d had a proper print to see them in! Every version I could find was choppy, washed out, and presented in full-screen; apparently, there’s an ‘unrated’ widescreen variation out there somewhere that’s fifteen minutes longer, that I’d love to get my hands on. Still, it didn’t detract too much from my warped enjoyment of the film, and the cheese factor remained gleefully high, especially where the dialogue and verbal barbs were concerned (“This stinking swamp water stinks!”). All in all, not a bad film to check out if you’re into bad films; plus, contrary to my photo below, you get the rare opportunity to see a blonde Miss Windsor in color. (4/10)