Three college cheerleaders (and after-school go-go dancers) use their martial arts skills to save their Sensei from mafia kidnappers, but must keep their extracurricular activities a secret to realize their Ivy League dreams at Brown.
"How can you be . . . so shallow?" I adore this cheesy made-for, which featured the acting debut (and farewell) of the aforementioned Yankee shortstop. Our boy Bucky is almost as wooden as the bat he used to crush the dreams of the Red Sox Nation in 1978, and watching him lumber (so to speak) around the set as a washed-up football player hopelessly in love with a snooty cheerleader, played by future "St Elsewhere" star Bry, would be enough to make "Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders" a camp classic. But it also offers a trio of unintentionally delightful performances by Lauren Tewes as a sweet little piece of white trash, Bert Convy as a sleazy magazine publisher, and Jane Seymour as a tough, aggressive undercover reporter. Lauren could never project much more than a sort of bland perkiness, but in this film, she's supposed to be troubled and vulnerable -- she's a nice girl with a dark secret that could get her kicked off the squad. She fails miserably, but the effort she puts into it is quite moving since it hints at the personal trauma poor Ms. Tewes was then suffering as the resident crumpet on the "Love Boat." Throughout his career Bert Convy built a reputation as an affable nonentity, but now and then there were hints of the resentment and misery that must surely fester within every self-acknowledged cipher, and you can sense some real malice beneath the blow-dried cardboard villain that Convy plays here. Maybe Convy could have played a brilliant Ted Bundy.
"Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders," though, is a vehicle for two, and those two are Jane Seymour and the Dallas Cowboys organization. The film posits that the Dallas Cowboys represent everything that is good and wholesome about America. (Why else would these gals swathe their breasts in the Red, White and Blue?) Why, despite their success and fame, the Cowboys are so down-home and authentic that their cheerleaders' choreographer is a woman named Texie! And if they need a dour, brittle woman like Laraine Stephens to safeguard the sanctity of the Cheerleaders, so be it. (The lovely Miss Stephens seems to have researched this character by watching every episode of "Another World" ever broadcast -- behold her stern-browed, soapy malevolence as she dismisses an overly ambitious young woman from the squad. Careful, girls, you don't want to think you're better than you are.) But it's the beautiful Jane who carries this film into the end zone. At this point in her career, she was absolutely radiant and utterly shameless, so she could play nasty characters who would have roasted Dr. Quinn over a campfire, and here she warms up for her scenery-pulverizing turn as Cathy in the "East of Eden" mini-series two years later. Watch her toss that silky hair and dish about her fellow squad members. Watch her assemble those flawless features into a mask of phony empathy and suck the seedy truth out of Lauren like a vampire. At her sordid best, Jane combined the blunt intensity of Joan Crawford with the eye-searing beauty of Gene Tierney. She could have ruled the 80s, or any other decade, really. But she surrendered to her nicest impulses, and we're left with mere glimpses of the colossal diva that might she have become. Sigh.
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