Noteworthy as an early screenwriting credit for Barry Levinson, then a gag writer for TV shows but later to become an Oscar-winning filmmaker, Street Girls is a wretched exploitation flick with fleeting glimmers of something better. Chronologically and thematically, the picture falls between Joe (1970) and Hardcore (1979), because, like those movies, Street Girls tracks a father’s search for a daughter who has disappeared into a subculture. In Joe, the daughter has become a vagabond hippie, and in Hardcore, the daughter has become a porn actress. As the title suggests, the daughter in Street Girls has become a hooker, and the situation is made worse because her pimp has deliberately hooked the young woman on heroin to keep her enslaved. There’s no reason Street Girls couldn’t have become a real movie, even with the sleazy plot, but the production is so cheap, dull, and ugly that it’s thoroughly unpleasant to watch. Virtually no traces of Levinson’s storytelling skills are detectible, and one suspects that actor Michael Albert Weber improvised much of his performance as the picture’s sole interesting character, a whacked-out academic/transvestite who helps guide the father into the sex-trade underworld. (In one epic spiel, Albert casually opines, “It isn’t very good weather to exist—the warmer it gets, the more multiplicity you get, till you get to South India where you got God with a thousand arms . . .”) Most of Street Girls comprises borderline-pornographic scenes of women dancing, stripping, and turning tricks, with clients ranging from an excitable golden-shower freak to an urbane little person. Yet the element that tips the movie fully into the irredeemable zone is the portrayal of the father. In many scenes, he’s chipper and friendly even though he knows his daughter is getting violated somewhere, and at one point he lingers in a strip club, cheering and clapping while he watches a girl his daughter’s age bump and grind. Not cool, dude!
Street Girls: LAME