Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Platinum Pussycat (1968)

Platinum Pussycat (also released as The Losers) is a 1968 sexploitation movie that creates its own little sub-genre. We could call it sexploitation noir, or maybe noirsploitation. It’s a strange little movie but it’s fascinating and it’s entertaining.

Some guy called Hollister gets stabbed to death. His girl Dena (Sandy Roberts) didn’t do it but she is the prime suspect, mainly because she didn’t play things too smart after the murder. She picked up the knife, left her prints all over it, then ran before the cops arrived. So it’s not surprising that the police figure she’s the murderess.

In desperation she turns to her ex-boyfriend Mike Baron (Jeff Baker). Mike’s an ex-cop and he’s one tough hombre. The only trouble is that he knows Dena pretty well and he doesn’t trust her one little bit. He is however persuaded to help her hide out for a while, at the apartment of a lady artist friend of his. This works out very badly indeed for the lady artist, and pretty badly for Dena as well when a couple of hoods show up. They rape Dena and kidnap her and then they torture her.

This makes Mike pretty mad and when Mike gets mad people get hurt. They get hurt real bad.

At this point the plot, pretty shaky to begin with, starts to gain quite a bit in complications and lose quite a bit in coherence. It seems that Hollister was mixed up with a Soviet spy master and the whole thing revolves around some stolen documents and the money that was to be exchanged for said documents. Everybody involved was trying to double-cross everybody else and now there are lots of people prepared to commit all manner of mayhem to get their hands on the documents, or the money, or both.

So basically this is a spy thriller. And while it might be a bit incoherent it’s really no more incoherent than a lot of the mainstream spy movies of the mid to late 60s. It was an incoherent kind of decade.

You might now be asking what happened to the sexploitation angle? Well you needn’t worry about that. The spy thriller plot is interspersed with lots of sex and lots of nudity. The sex scenes don’t always make much sense. I have no idea where the two lesbians came from but this is a sexploitation movie and so it had to have lesbians, and it does. And they get down to some hot girl-on-girl action as well as a threesome with a particularly nasty gangster.

All the female cast members get naked at some stage. Mostly the sex and nudity is what you expect from early to mid 60s sexploitation - no frontal nudity and while the sex scenes try to be steamy the guys keep their underpants on. This suddenly changes midway through and we get a ten-minute interlude with fairly explicit (by the standards of 1968) sex and some frontal nudity. This little interlude was shot in colour while the rest of the movie is in black-and-white. It is of course quite possible that this sequence was shot separately some time after the rest of the movie.

There’s a very obvious film noir influence here and I suspect it was particularly influenced by John Boorman’s Point Blank which came out in 1967. Lee Marvin’s performance in that film might well have inspired Jeff Baker’s performance in this film. In fact this movie has a pretty strong claim to be considered as an authentic neo-noir. Not a great neo-noir, but considering the ultra low budget it’s better than you might expect. There’s even an actual action set-piece as the finale.

Sandy Roberts can’t really act but she’s cute and she knows how to look seductive. She has the femme fatale role and she carries it off reasonably well.

The really interesting performance comes from Jeff Baker. I’m not claiming he was any great shakes as an actor but he sure as hell was hardboiled. Mike Baron is your basic hardboiled movie private eye on steroids. This guy could eat Mike Hammer for breakfast.

The impression of incoherence is perhaps mainly due to the soundtrack, with its odd mix of random noise, pop songs and voiceover narration that manages to make the details of the plot much more difficult to untangle. In fact it’s probably easier to follow the plot if you ignore the voiceover narration altogether.

Retro Seduction Cinema have released this movie as part of a double feature, paired with The Sexploiters. It’s a two-disc set and there are oodles of extras. They’ve done a fairly reasonable job with the transfer. The source material clearly had some problems. There’s some severe print damage in places but mostly the image quality is quite good. Sound quality is OK but with a few dropouts.

Platinum Pussycat might not make a whole lot of sense but it’s certainly action-packed, by which I mean it’s packed with actual action as well as sex. As a sexploitation movie it clearly belongs in the roughie category but it tries hard to be a film noir and at times it succeeds. It’s oddly hypnotic and fascinating. Most of all it’s fun. Highly recommended.

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