Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Doll Squad (1973)



Cheap, dull, and silly, this would-be espionage thriller introduces an all-female commando group of U.S. secret agents, tasked with infiltrating the remote fortress of a former American spy who plans to sell a synthesized version of the bubonic plague to international criminals. (As with James Bond movies, a clear influence on this laughable endeavor, it’s better not to waste too much energy scrutinizing the practicality of the villain’s scheme.) Produced and directed by one Ted V. Mikels, The Doll Squad is about as glamorous-looking—and as well-acted—as a drivers’-ed instructional movie. Michael Ansara, a deep-voiced character actor known for his roles in the original Star Trek series and such ’70s genre fare as The Manitou (1978), is the closest thing to a recognizable name in The Doll Squad. He plays the bad guy, badly. Ansara was perfectly capable of interesting and even memorable work in the right context, so the fact that even he was defeated by the suffocating crappiness of The Doll Squad says volumes about the picture’s substandard approach to everything—action, cinematography, directing, editing, writing. (The so-called “special effects” are particularly crude, with bright flashes superimposed on the screen whenever the filmmakers wish to suggest an explosion.) The Doll Squad isn’t a complete disaster, because the storyline basically makes sense (in a cliché-ridden way), and because some viewers might find distraction in the ample curves of starlets including Francine York, who plays the lead “doll,” and Tura Santana (a veteran of many Russ Meyer productions). That said, The Doll Squad is an exploitation movie without much exploitation, since the titular ladies never disrobe past bikinis—except for Santana, who does a quick bump-and-grind in a strip club at one point. The shootouts deliver low thrills, too, with squibs aplenty popping as the squad mows down dozens of enemy soldiers—who, in the nature of these sorts of movies, stand around waiting to get shot except when the plot requires them to suddenly become formidable. The whole enterprise is scored with atrocious music that sounds like a hybrid of porn tunes and the sort of frenetic, horn-driven jams that used to run beneath Hanna Barbera’s cheaply made superhero cartoons. Oh, and the clothes and hairstyles? Unimaginably bad, even for the ’70s.

The Doll Squad: LAME

2 comments:

Alan Beauvais said...

Just recorded it off TCM this past weekend. Could this have been the inspiration for Tarantino's Fox Force 5 reference in "Pulp Fiction"?

William Blake Hall said...

Alan, while i don't doubt that QT saw this, I think he was having fun recalling two failed TV pilots. One was called "Force Five," I think about five cons using their wild talents for the police, and I believe the other was called "Code Name Foxfire" starring the ever resilient Joanna Cassidy, with female agents answerable to the President's brother, of all people. Combine the two names and two concepts, voila, "Fox Force Five." QT is a master of conflation -- what Jules "quotes" from the Bible isn't in there, but it sounds like it ought to be.