Despite achieving considerable fame as a Las Vegas entertainer and despite having starred in a couple of European pictures in the ’60s, pretty and talented African-American singer/actress Lola Falana never found a niche in Hollywood. She gave a memorable turn as a seductress in The Liberation of L.B. Jones (1970), and then mostly played small parts in features and TV shows—except for this shoddy excuse for a starring vehicle. Produced on a meager budget and predicated on a threadbare storyline, the blaxploitation-ish Lady Cocoa stars Falana as a criminal’s ex-girlfriend now serving time in prison. As part of a plea-bargain deal, Cocoa (Falana) gets one day of freedom in Las Vegas before testifying against her former lover. However, when Cocoa’s law-enforcement guardians tell her she’s expected to hide out in a hotel room and order room service, she insists on a day full of shopping, shows, and slot machines. Cocoa gets her way by threatening to withhold her testimony, so her security is entrusted to Doug (Gene Washington), a handsome black cop. Naturally, attraction develops between the two. Meanwhile, hit men lay in wait for Cocoa, planning to kill her the minute she appears in public. Plots like this one have been filmed a zillion times, but rarely this incompetently. Nothing much happens for the first hour, and the movie includes innumerable scenes of the hit men watching Cocoa through a window—or spying on her inside a casino—without attempting to kill her. Similarly, the relationship between Cocoa and Doug is so predictable and trite that Falana and Washington can’t make anything of their scenes. They both look good and sound tough, but that’s about it. The film’s production values are weak, and the soundtrack irritatingly features endless variations of “Pop Goes the Weasel,” notably an obnoxiously brassy rendition sung by Falana. (The picture was occasionally marketed as Pop Goes the Weasel, presumably a flip reference to the idea of killing a snitch.) Not that it makes any difference, one of the hit man is played—with zero energy—by NFL icon “Mean” Joe Greene.
Lady Cocoa: LAME