Wednesday, August 10, 2016

#2,169. Ginger (1971)

Directed By: Don Schain

Starring: Cheri Caffaro, Duane Tucker, Herbert Kerr

Tag line: "To bust a ring that specializes in assorted sports you need a girl who's played them all"

Trivia: When released on video in the UK, the title was changed to Little Girls Lost

Ginger, a 1971 crime drama written and directed by Don Schain, offers plenty of exploitative goodness, from nudity and violence to drug deals and even a little S & M. Of course, Ginger also has poor acting, terrible production values, and a basic story that doesn’t make a lick of sense.

I guess you can’t have everything, can you?

In an effort to bring down archcriminal Rex Halsey (Duane Tucker) and his violent gang of drug dealers, prostitutes, and blackmailers , rich girl Ginger (Cheri Caffaro) volunteers to work undercover for private investigator Jason Varone (William Grannell). Varoine has been hired by several prominent members of Brighton, NJ (Halsey’s base of operations) to eliminate this blight on their community. Though she has no law-enforcement experience whatsoever, Ginger manages to convince Jason she will succeed where others have failed (the last woman to tangle with Halsey and his cronies was gang-raped before having a plastic bag tied over the head).

When her attempt to reform Cathy (Linda Susoeff), one of Halsey’s most trusted prostitutes, ends in disaster, Ginger sets her sights on key members of Halsey’s operation, including Rodney (Casey Donovan), J.D. (David Ross),and even Jimmy (Herbert Kerr), an African-American narcotics dealer with a taste for women. But the closer she gets to Halsey himself, the more dangerous her task becomes, and if Ginger isn’t careful, she will end up like all of her predecessors: dead!

Grindhouse aficionados will have a field day with Ginger, which features a number of unforgettable scenes. In one, Ginger, lying on the beach and minding her own business, is approached by Vicki (Michele Norris), Halsey’s main squeeze, who challenges our heroine to a fight. The melee ends with Ginger stripping Vicki naked and hog-tying her with her own bikini. There’s also a lesbian encounter (between Ginger and another of the gang’s ladies), and more than a few sequences featuring bondage and S & M. And if this isn’t enough for you, Ginger also has one very uncomfortable sequence that features castration by piano wire!

Like most movies of this ilk, Ginger suffers from bad acting and head-scratching "WTF" logic (why would a professional investigator hire an inexperienced beauty in the first place?). In addition, a good many scenes run far too long (there's an extended drug deal where the most exciting thing that happens is a guy rolling a joint). Even more perplexing are those moments when characters purposefully put themselves in harm’s way, walking into obvious traps without bringing a weapon along.  One of Halsey’s cohorts makes this very mistake when Ginger, whose cover has already been blown, invites him over for a “chat”.

Those familiar with the era’s exploitation movies won’t be bothered in the least by these weaknesses, whereas others probably wouldn’t watch a picture like Ginger anyway. So, this is for anyone still on the fence about this film: If you can deal with nudity and violence and don’t mind ridiculous dialogue or gaping plot holes, then definitely give Ginger a shot. Even if it’s seedier elements don’t impress you, odds are you’ll be entertained by the insanity of it all.

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