Friday, April 12, 2019

Girl Gang

Girl Gang
Robert C. Dertano

Juvenile Delinquency/Drug Scare films are interesting in that on the surface they have an agenda to frighten viewers straight. Nominally they exist as morality tales about indulging in vices and the inescapable doom that awaits anyone who even takes a single puff of weed or considers having sex outside of marriage. Often these films use that veneer of social responsibility to engage in some delightful sleaze that they almost certainly would not have gotten away with had they not used that cover of respectability.

Joe (Timothy Farrell) is a pusher who commands a gang of young girls to steal cars and corrupt the youth of America. Joe’s girlfriend June (Joanne Arnold) gives heroin a try and apparently likes it. She also manages to bring in two fresh-faced kids, Bill (Ray Morton) and Wanda (Mary Lou O’Connor) to try some reefer. Soon everyone is doing drugs, having sex, and starting to attract the attention of the police.

"Gosh, I sure do like drugs."
Girl Gang promises a band of young women in angora sweaters and bobby socks pistol-whipping middle-aged men and stealing their woodies. For the first few minutes, the movie provides exactly that, but before too long, the gang leaves and we are stuck with Joe. Joe has to be the most upfront pusher and pimp of all time, he more or less tells every teenager that wanders into his den that they are going to like reefer so much they are going to try heroin and get hooked. The film also serves as step-by-step instructions on how to shoot up heroin, which probably wasn’t the goal of the filmmakers, but I can’t say that for sure.

Girl Gang chugs along with a virtually plotless series of people getting high, making out, and more people getting high and making out. There are some charmingly silly moments; initiation into the gang requires a prospective member to have sex with five men in a room (not all at the same time, it's not quite that sleazy) which comes equipped with a flashing light bulb above to door to let everyone know what is happening in there. There are also some tortuous moments such as an endless jazz piano scene that signals the film is beginning to run out steam completely. The climax of the film involves an overly complicated gas station robbery that feels legitimate because it is exactly the kind of unworkable plan that a bunch of really high people might think was brilliant. I suppose putting on masks and pointing a gun at the attendant was too simple.

"I'll trade you those stockings for this heroin."
Girl Gang’s biggest issue is the fact that most of the characters are flat and uninteresting. June is a dud, Wanda is introduced late and virtually does nothing the entire film. Girl Gang just feels like an unfocused parade of drugs and a little bit of sex. Perhaps that is the point, what we have here is a primitive attempt to show the aimless life of people caught in a web of crime and bad habits that only serves to drive them to their own deaths or into the hands of a cruel legal system.

I suppose it depends on what you’ve been smoking.

No comments:

Post a Comment