25 April 2012

Switchblade Sisters

United States - 1974
Director - Jack Hill
Poster art by - John Solie

After over ten years since my last watch I revisited Switchblade Sisters over the weekend. I think I'm able to appreciate it more this time around. My personal favorite is the opening title starting with the switchblade snapping action of the main title itself. The first time I watched it I think I was expecting more. It had been talked up so much I thought it was going to be epic and my tastes, tempered as they were by the relative extremes of 80's and 90's cinema, couldn't process what seemed like bland 70's flavor.

One of the things that I still find a little bit disappointing is what seems to me as a lost opportunity for some explicit feminism. There are a few moments which in a certain light might appear to reject the standard film portrayals of 'tough girls' (that is, still within gender norms) but I suppose one can't expect too much in an exploitation flick from 1975. In particular though I think it's interesting that the white girl gang are just directionless hooligans and subordinate to their boyfriends (until the end) while the Black gang are thoroughly militant and led by a woman. Those roles would be largely reversed by the '80's thanks to the advent of the "War on Drugs." But don't get me wrong, it is fundamentally just a movie about a bunch of white girls doing things that white girls aren't supposed to which is apparently 'shocking.'

The artificiality of the sets (especially the street battle sequence at the end) and the shallow scripting which harken back to the delinquency films of the 50's, definitely strikes me as more of a parody than anything else. Fortunately, director Hill seems to have intended it that way. Which, as it turns out, is not a bad thing. With a little perspective, I can understand why Switchblade Sisters is regarded as a classic.

1 comment:

Jordan in Texas said...

That is some of the best poster art I've ever seen...