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  Little Cigars Small Man Syndrome
Year: 1973
Director: Chris Christenberry
Stars: Angel Tompkins, Billy Curtis, Jerry Maren, Frank Delfino, Felix Silla, Emory Souza, Joe De Santis, Jon Cedar, Philip Keneally, Barbara Rhoades, Michael Pataki, Todd Susman, Rayford Barnes, Walter Beakel, Angelo Rossitto, Sharon Kelly
Genre: Thriller, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Cleo (Angel Tompkins) had been the moll to this powerful gangster until recently - tonight, actually, as he started stubbing out his cigar on her body after they had sex, so not liking that much she took it off him and returned the favour on a delicate part of his anatomy. From there it was a short step to escaping with his gun and his car, heading off on the road seeking refuge anywhere she could find it as the gang boss dispatched a couple of hoods to track her down in revenge. But the gang she ended up with were rather strange...

Not that they were strange in personality, as they were pretty much your basic gang of movie criminals, but what was unusual about them was their height, as the "Little Cigars" in this case were a group of five midgets - don't call them dwarfs, as their leader Slick, played by seasoned performer Billy Curtis fresh from High Plains Drifter, objected strongly to that word, although he apparently didn't have any problem with characters calling him a "squirt". In the tradition of bad movie favourite The Terror of Tiny Town, which not so coincidentally also starred Curtis, this was what would have been a simple enough genre flick made bizarre by the casting.

If you thought this was going to be a comedy, then think again, for while there was the odd would-be funny line and slapstick situation, in the main this was a straight ahead, meanminded thriller with the little actors playing it as tough as they could as they had something to prove to those who would pigeonhole them into stereotypical roles. The trouble with that was that this film was hardly flattering, and far from depicting them as regular guys instead made them out to be something closer to demonic, as if they were imps only lacking the tridents and pointed tails to render them the sort of thing you'd see in a low rent horror flick.

Compounding the poor judgement was the fact they were all noticeably overage, with Curtis himself nearing the stage he could collect his pension, which made the scenes where he and the considerably younger Tompkins got romantic look rather uncomfortable as he was old enough to be her grandfather, or so it appeared. No matter Cleo's claim that she was interested in what was "between their legs", the concept looked like something more appropriate for a fetish video than a proper movie, appealing to the kind of men who like tall women or even like to be carried by them for sexual kicks. Needless to say, for everyone else any eroticism was notably lacking.

If anything, the obvious cheapness on display leaned this towards the sleazy, and though none of the actresses took their clothes off, there was something unseemly about these older gents chasing after nubile young women, even if they were twice their height. As for the crime aspect, that was little better, as not only were the small gang required by the script to carry out armed robberies and brutally dole out violence to anyone who crosses them, but they were the recipients of such abuse themselves, leading to scenes where the diminutive actors were thrown across the room or slapped around, necessarily using the actual cast and not stuntmen. You could be charitable and observe that at least Little Cigars was offering higher profile roles to a minority, yet in effect was no more noble than dressing up as an Ewok or whatever - if anything, Ewoks were preferable. Take away that aspect, and you had a run of the mill thriller; with it, it was uneasy entertainment. And how come they weren't caught within minutes, anyway? Music by Harry Betts.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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