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  Bonnie's Kids Vicious Streak
Year: 1973
Director: Arthur Marks
Stars: Tiffany Bolling, Steve Sandor, Robin Mattson, Scott Brady, Alex Rocco, Leo Gordon, Max Showalter, Lenore Stevens, Timothy Brown, Nicolas Cortland, Luanne Roberts, Hal Baylor, Garrison True, Diana Darrin, Ron Gans, Sharon Gless
Genre: Drama, Thriller, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Ever since their mother died a couple of years ago, sisters Ellie (Tiffany Bolling) and Myra (Robin Mattson) have lived with their stepfather Charley (Leo Gordon) who has been growing ever more surly and resentful, not only about his adopted daughters but about the world in general too. Tonight events come to a head after Myra is dropped off at home by her boyfriend, not letting his amorous nature get the better of her, and wanders in to see Charley and his friends playing poker. These middle-aged men have no qualms about flirting with her, but while she doesn't mind her stepfather definitely does: by the time the men have left, he is simmering with rage and attempts to rape Myra...

Though he reckons without Ellie returning from her shift at a diner, toting a shotgun and blowing mean ol' Charley away, a liberating action in the sort of sleazy melodrama that Bonnie's Kids represented. With a title like that you might have expected a children's movie, possibly with a pet dog to accompany the girls on their countryside adventures, but when we catch up with them they are well on the road to becoming hardened criminals, and that's before the opening credits have even rolled. Nowadays, if this is recalled much it will be because of a pair of characters who supposedly inspired the John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson hitmen in Quentin Tarantino's landmark Pulp Fiction.

Tarantino was a self-admitted fan of director Arthur Marks' drive-in fodder, so there may be something in that claim, especially seeing as how this item was more of an ensemble piece than you might have anticipated from the way the beginning plays out with Ellie and Myra heading off to El Paso and a rich uncle (Scott Brady) who lives there. He tells them he can get them modelling jobs if they're looking for work, and unlike many a character who makes boasts of that nature in movies like this, he actually can make good on his promises. However, this was not going to be a story where the international fashion world was exposed, for a start the production couldn't have afforded to jet the cast and crew around the globe, so most of this took place in cheap locations.

Not that the fans of efforts like this would have it any other way, seeing one more saloon car powering along a desert road was visual music to their eyes, or something, so if you had seen a few of these you'd have an idea of what was on offer: sex, violence, motels, swimming pools, car chases, it wasn't so much set in stone as a bunch of old reliables most exploitation moviemakers were going to return to again and again until the tastes changed sometime around the eighties. That said, sunbleached noir never left us entirely, just as the seventies works were indebted to the melodramas of the forties where typically a strong heroine, or more probably a femme fatale, would lead some hapless chap astray towards a downbeat close for all concerned: as plots went, it was a design classic.

Tiffany Bolling was at this point carving out a niche much like Roberta Collins or Rainbeaux Smith were, and she had the impressive additional qualification of appearing in Playboy too. Her screen sister Robin Mattson would go on to become a stalwart of television soap operas, but where you would have thought teaming these two blondes up for various thrills and spills would be a fine notion indeed, oddly Marks kept them apart for most of the running time, Myra negotiating her way around her uncle's lesbian wife Diana (Lenore Stevens) who she can use to her own advantage, and Ellie tracking down a package which could make her and her sister independently wealthy, though not if the black and white hitmen Eddy (Alex Rocco) and Digger (Timothy Brown) get there first. Ellie united with none too bright private eye Larry (Steve Sandor) to ensure she got her way, but this was following the course of many a noir before it, leaving you in some doubt whether the bad girls will succeed. Interesting for heartlessly chasing sleaze yet ultimately never losing sight of stern morality. Music by Carson Whitsett.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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