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W. Merle Connell
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Scalli is a gangster who manages women wrestlers as a front for his bookmaking, drug, and prostitution rackets. He trusts the wrong people and ends up trying to run away from both the police and mysterious mob boss Mr. Big, to whom he owes $35,000. This film features real-life wrestlers Peaches Page, Clara Mortensen (world champion wrestler), and Rita Martinez (champion of Mexico). Written by
Vance Kochenderfer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I like b&w films, because those are two colours like any others, and have the merit of being better than current blockbusters showing a dark blue image on a black background to mask the poor acting, set decoration, and cinematography.
I also like films that have some historical value, and Racket Girl does. It was one of a kind in terms of sexploitation; it covers extensively the novelty of post-war time, women engaging in athletics, and "men's sports" such as wrestling; it shows extensive wrestling matches with real life women wrestlers; it has a sexy mature gym trainer and masseuse, and a peachy blonde, Miss Peaches, to please male (and female, as lesbianism was implied then) viewers of all age brackets; the film was impounded by the police for the fact at least one person cast in it was on bail, and should no be working when he did it.
I like re-editions of films that serve both the entertainment, and the historical documentation of the film's production, and this Special Edition from Something Weird Video does. The original Racket Girls was announced at 70 min, this edition has 67 min and does say so, which is commendable; it's only my guess, but the missing scenes would be a shower, and more of the body massage of Miss Peaches. To compensate for the loss, you have the long original trailer, and an audio commentary by Johnny Legend, a wrestler promoter himself, and a couple of other people who give some interesting background and critical views of the film. The DVD option of audio on is for the second or third viewing of the film, and will be of interest to film and wrestling fans.
The quality of the print is not excellent - but as I have tried VHS copies, legit and bootleg before, I'd say this one is the best restoration available outside a major studio.
All the above are reasons to put this on the shelf at home; one shall return to it for the extras: six other assorted matches of women wrestling from the 8mm silent films, also in good digital transfers, four little amateur cat-fights on a park lawn, and a large gallery of women wrestlers from the Forties to the Sixties, and last but not least, a segment on Roller Derby girls, when the girls skated fast, pushed, shoved, elbowed, and punched to prevent their rivals from passing through the mêlée.
Note for feminists: I know that women wrestling is supposed to be politically incorrect these days, but please see this feature. Discard the four apartment wrestlers in bikinis that end up by showing four breasts in the only colour segment of the DVD - and please note that I did not count THAT among the pluses of this edition... Watch carefully the dialogue of REAL wrestler Clara Mortensen with the shady promoter, when she says, and she sounds like she means it, "Wrestling is one of the few clean sports, and I intend to keep it that way." Next, she is having a talk from pro to tyro with Miss Peaches, the big asset the promoter had just signed in, and she takes her away from the racket even before she does her match with another rough-and-tumble champion, Rita Martinez. Isn't it a beauty? That back in 1951 the only assertive, positive views on wrestling comes from two women (Mortensen and Martinez)? It's better than equality - it's supremacy of ethics in the work environment.
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