A Knife for the Ladies (1974) Poster

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Unwashed Elam...
Clay-1020 November 2007
A bizarre yet watchable cross between a typical oater and a slasher film, KNIFE FOR THE LADIES (or better known as "Jack The Ripper Goes West" on DVD) is actually a fairly entertaining jumble of genres, aided by the one and only Jack "One-Eye" Elam as the town sheriff, a drunken, unwashed, temperamental SOB who loves his rotgut and loves to fight, all of which is exacerbated when a clean-cut private eye comes in from the big city to help the townsfolk stop an unknown murderer bumping off the women. Although the DVD version is obviously edited of some scenes, causing the story to leave gaps as big as the one in Terry-Thomas's smile,the film moves along at a good gallop until the somewhat predictable conclusion.
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Really Lousy Mix of Genres
Michael_Elliott4 April 2018
A Knife for the Ladies (1974)

1/2 (out of 4)

Mescal is a small Southwest town where not too much happens, which keeps the local Sheriff (Jack Elam) happy. All of this changes when the local prostitutes turn up dead and the locals begin to fear that Jack the Ripper (or a copycat) might be committing the crimes.

This film is out there in two versions with the uncut one being the hardest to find, although it was released to Blu-ray by Code Red. This version here clocks in at 86-minutes and is the uncut theatrical version that went under the title of A KNIFE FOR THE LADIES. The film was much more widely available via countless public domain companies under the catchy title of JACK THE RIPPER GOES WEST but that version clocks in at just 51-minutes. After watching the uncut version I must admit that I would have given anything to see it cut down.

Man, where do you start with a film like this? This movie wants to be a Western, a horror picture, a murder-mystery and I think it also tries to have some black comedy as well. It tries to be a lot of things but sadly it doesn't do anything well and it in facts does nothing but waste the talents of Elam, Ruth Roman and Jeff Cooper. All three people are wasted in their rather silly roles, which is too bad because the idea behind the film is an interesting one and it should have made for a better picture.

The film really kills itself because it just doesn't do anything right. The horror elements are rather watered down and you never once care who the killer is. It also doesn't help that as a Western it feels a lot cheaper than those old B films from the 1930s. There's no sleaze or anything else to hold your attention and in fact the only thing that does hold your attention is just waiting to see how much worse it gets.

I'm not sure what all is missing in the cut version but I'd have to say it would be better to watch since the 86-minute cut just features non-stop dialogue scenes and is a real chore to sit through.
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A weird mix of genres
bensonmum225 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
A Knife for the Ladies (or Jack the Ripper Goes West) is a weird mix of genres. It's a Western with a slasher storyline running through it. A mad killer is slashing the necks of prostitutes in the town of Mescal. The sheriff, Jarrod (Jack Elam) seems incapable of finding the killer, so the town's leaders bring in a private detective named Burns (Jeff Cooper). Can Burns find the killer before Mescal's brothel is left vacant?

Overall, A Knife for the Ladies is one lousy movie. Neither the horror nor the Western elements work. Until the final scene, it's a total failure. Much of the problem comes from the fact that nothing looks real. The town is obviously a set – it doesn't feel "real". The people are obviously actors playing parts. They're not "real" either. Jack Elam's old grizzled hard-drinking sheriff is so over-the-top that he's ridiculous. And Jeff Cooper's Burns is too 1970s to be authentic. A Knife for the Ladies' lone highlight comes in its finale. It's actually a nice twist that I honestly didn't see coming. I could have never guessed the killer's identity. But as nice as the ending may have been, I still can't bring myself to rate A Knife for the Ladies any higher than a 3/10 – and that's being generous.

Finally, one especially annoying aspect A Knife for the Ladies is the way it tries to play the old-school sheriff against the more modern detective. But it's all talk. There's no evidence presented of any real clash between the old vs. new law enforcement techniques. It's as if someone involved with the movie's production thought this conflict would make a good storyline so they threw it into the movie without really adding it (if that makes any sense). Predictably, the old and new get into a completely unnecessary fistfight before they can work together. It's so forced it's painful.
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Bringing A Knife To A Gunfight
FightingWesterner27 September 2016
City private investigator Jeff Cooper travels to frontier backwater in order to investigate the slasher murders of town matriarch Ruth Roman's son and a gaggle of local prostitutes. Things are complicated by the vigilante murder of a Mexican cowboy and brutish, old-school sheriff Jack Elam.

Mildly entertaining drive-in trash, this benefits from the old low-rent sets and ancient costumes that were pretty much a sign of the times in the early seventies. You can practically smell the mothballs, though they (the set-pieces not the mothballs) make this low, low-budget western/horror flick almost look like a million bucks. The weird, very exploitative climax is fun too, as are the presences of Elam and Roman.

For a better Jack-the-ripper-goes-west story, watch the Episode of Dead Man's Gun aptly titled "The Ripper".
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When slasher meets western
Leofwine_draca10 April 2018
Warning: Spoilers
A KNIFE FOR THE LADIES is a weird mix of a prototype slasher movie and a stable western, shot on a low budget and starring the inimitable Jack Elam as the town sheriff. Elam's very good, one of the best reasons to watch the film, but the rest of it is a bit of a jumbled mess and surprisingly tame given the genre; it feels more like a television movie than anything else. Elam's sheriff and a rival investigate a series of mysterious slayings in a small western town, but the mystery aspects of the story are limited and this takes an age to go anywhere. The ending is mildly effective but the two separate genres never really gel and there are only a few stand-out moments, Elam's tangling with a younger model in a jail cell being one of them.
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What genre was this movie?
davannacarter29 May 2016
Does this movie wanna be a western, giallo, comedy, mystery, or what? This movie fails in every genre. If it's trying to be a western, it fails entirely because the detective's 70s hairstyle, clothes, and mannerisms will completely jar viewers out of the western setting. If it's trying to be a giallo, it failed because most of the movie is nonsensical filler that distracts from the killings. If it was trying to be comedy, I didn't find anything intentionally funny, even by 70s standards. If it's trying to be a mystery, it fails because the movie gets so boring by the halfway mark that I fell asleep. I woke up exactly when the killer was revealed, right at the end. When the killer was revealed, I thought, "This movie is still on?" because by that point I had lost so much interest in the movie I decided to go to bed rather than waste time rewatching scenes I fell asleep during. In fact, I turned it off before the credits rolled.

Boring, boring, boring, even by 70s standards. Boring characters where I didn't care who lived and who died. A western setting that is painfully obvious it's a movie set. And decided lack of tension or suspense in a movie that touts itself as a murder mystery. All in all, if you wanna fall asleep, put this crap on. If you wanna watch something even the tiniest bit memorable, don't bother with this.
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