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Jody, a juvenile delinquent, escapes from reform school by stabbing a matron and attempting to burn down the building and then takes refuge in a house owned by an ambitious politician David Patton. Despite the hellcat's ample charms, the would-be officeholder wants nothing to do with her and tries to drive her away. She responds by shortly returning to his house accompanied by a gang of delinquent pals and taking him hostage. A sudden act of violence causes more trouble, leading Jody and her gang to hijack David and force him to drive a getaway car to Mexico. Written by
"You poke that finger at that dial mister, and that's when I start screaming rape!" I usually find bad acting and poor performances boring to watch and frustrating to subject myself to, but Ann-Margret's performance in "Kitten With A Whip" is so kinetically awful that she virtually invents a whole new kind of awfulness.
As Jody Dvorak, the wildly unbalanced kitten of the title, Ann-Margret affects the line readings, attitudes and camp posturings that most drag queens can only dream about. It's a strangely compelling performance because it's like one given by a person who's never seen acting before. If you've ever seen Katherine O'Hara's Lola Heatherton character on "SCTV," you get a pretty good idea of Ann-Margret's brand of naturalism.
The film is so overheated that it defies being taken seriously, so much of it comes off like a comedy of errors that befall the woodenly sincere John Forsythe as he attempts to extricate himself from the spiraling mess his life has become since crossing paths with Jody.
The film is so undistinguished that everybody involved should be indebted to Ann-Margret. She is terrible, to be sure, but she is the only life the film has and is endlessly watchable. She gives even the most innocuous lines megatons of energy so much that she's almost too much for the screen. That her career actually survived this delectable mess and she went on to become a rather nuanced actress in later years should give hope to lousy young actresses everywhere.
"Kitten With A Whip" is not only a treat for the eyes (Ann-Margret looks as good as her acting is bad) but for the ears as well. There is so much 60's bop talk that you might need subtitles. My favorite line (among many) : "You musclehead! How come you think you're such a smoky something when you're so nothing painted blue?"
Has to be seen to be believed. Now cool it you creep, and coexist!
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