Thursday, July 3, 2014

Bad Girls Go to Hell (Doris Wishman, 1965)

Most people use their hands to pick things up. I've even read that some people use their hands to throw the very things they just picked up, and get paid handsomely to do so. Others, I've been told, use their hands to strike objects. Personally, when I'm not spastically dancing to "Moving Hands" by Belgium's The Klinik, I like to scratch and grope things with my hands. Whether I'm doing it to myself or to complete strangers on public transit, nothing beats a good scratch and/or grope. Now that I've established what normal people like to do with their hands, what if I told you there's a film character out there who uses her hands almost exclusively to subdue their pain and suffering? After experiencing something that causes her... pain and suffering, troubled blonde Meg Kelton/Ellen Green (Gigi Darlene) takes her hands and either places them on her head (usually over her temples) or over the entirety of her face. Are you sitting down? Good. Because I counted eight separate incidents in Doris Wishman's Bad Girls Go to Hell where Meg/Ellen uses this method (hand therapy, if you will) to soothe her... pain and suffering. The reason I asked if you were sitting down was because I didn't think you could handle the thought of a troubled blonde in so much agony. I mean, think about it. There are eight separate incidents. The movie is barely an hour long. In other words, that's a shitload of angst for one blonde, troubled or otherwise, to experience over such a short amount of time.

In order to fill in the gaps that don't feature Gigi Darlene cradling her head and face in her hands, we watch as the gorgeous Dawn Bennett retrieves a cold beverage from the refrigerator while wearing a black lace body-stocking.

As I watched her struggle to open the can containing her cool beverage, I thought to myself: This should be the entire movie. I know, there's no way the sight of Dawn Bennett wandering around her apartment in a perpetual daze while wearing a black lace body-stocking could be stretched out to the time necessary to pass as a feature length movie. But, I have to say, this film comes pretty close to making my dream come true.

Meaning, I better get used to the sight of Dawn Bennett performing mundane tasks while wearing a black lace body-stocking, as it eats up a good chunk of this film's running time.

Which reminds me, Dawn Bennett, who plays Della, is never once seen cradling her head or face with her hands. You wanna know why? She's got better things to do than pretend her hands can placate her misery.

As we already know, Della likes to use her hands to open drinks. But more importantly, she employs her hands to bring out lesbianism in others. Not sure you're a dyke? Here's a free tip: Before heading down to your local Subaru dealership to pick out a shiny new Lesbaru Outback (the automotive choice for discerning lesbians six years running), let Della feel you up first. If anyone knows how to jump-start authentic lesbianism, it's Della.

At any rate, as I was saying earlier, a troubled blonde uses her hands a total of eight times to mollify the pain and suffering she experiences over the course of Bad Girls Go to Hell. Let's celebrate each face covering incident in the order they occur, shall we?

#1 -- Nearly raped by her building's janitor in the stairwell, Meg/Ellen throws her black lace negligee sheathed body on her gaudy sofa and uses it and her hands to alleviate the trauma of the unsavoury ordeal she just experienced.

#2 -- Crushing the skull of the building's janitor during his second attempt to rape her, Meg/Ellen returns to her apartment and takes a moment to ease her stress by covering her eyes and forehead with her hand. If you're worried that Meg/Ellen's hair will hamper her ability to ease her stress with her hand, not to fear, she's wearing a headband, which does an amazing job of keeping her hair away from her eyes and forehead, a.k.a., her primary stress zones.

#3 -- Instead of sticking around to face the music, Meg/Ellen decides to flee to New York City. Sitting on a park bench, she contemplates this decision the best way she knows how. Yep, you guessed it, by holding her head in her hands. Noticing the destitute troubled blonde sitting on a park bench with her head in her hands, Ed Baines (Sam Stewart) approaches her.

#4 -- While living with Ed Baines, Meg, who, ever since the incident with the janitor, is pretending to be Ellen Green from Chicago, clutches her head after Ed rejects her attempt to come on to him. It would seem that Ed is a recovering alcoholic, and it only takes a couple of drinks (Meg/Ellen found a bottle of cooking sherry hidden under the sink) for him to beat Meg/Ellen with his belt. As Ed is sleeping it off, Meg/Ellen quietly slips out the door.

#5 -- After giving Della, who wears black lace panties underneath her black lace body-stocking (oh, the lace-based redundancy of it all), a demonstration of her skills as an acrobat, Meg/Ellen runs from the room in a huff. Later on, she can be seen brooding on the sofa. And what's the best way to for a shapely blonde to brood while wearing nothing but a black bra, black lace panties and a black pumps? (How the hell should I know?) Haven't you been paying attention? The best way for a shapely blonde to brood while wearing next to nothing is to support her head with her hands. Duh.

#6 -- The act of renting a room for twenty bucks a week from a married couple looked like it might be able to relieve a smattering of her sorrow. But wouldn't you know it, the second she sits on her bed, a tsunami of stress-related self-doubt washes over her. Unsure if this is the right place for her, Meg/Ellen manifests this stress-related self-doubt by resting her head in her hands.

#7 -- Out getting pills for the semi-invalid she's been hired to take of, Meg/Ellen feels like she's being followed by a strange man. Rushing back, Meg/Ellen runs to straight to her room, sits on the bed and cradles her paranoid head in her hands like a new born baby.

#8 -- Waking up back where she started, Meg tells her husband Ted (Alan Feinstein), as he's walking out the door, that she doesn't understand what's happening (he brushes off her concerns with a nonchalant brand of mid-1960s male indifference). And what's happening is clearly a nightmare. In order to convey this to the audience, Meg covers her face with her hands one last time. When will this nightmare be over?, she must be thinking to herself, as the placement of her hands slowly causes the world around her to grow dark.

Damn, I wasn't kidding around. I just listed eight separate instances where a troubled blonde covers her face as a direct result of stress.

It should go without saying, but out of all the hand-related head cushioning scenes featured in this movie, the hand-related head cushioning that takes place at Della's apartment was definitely my favourite. Of course, it wasn't my favourite in terms of actually supporting one's head with their hands (that would be #4, the head cradling that takes place at Ed's). No, it's my favourite mainly because Dawn Bennett is so freakin' alluring as Della. Seriously, I could watch her perform even most mundane of tasks. And on top of that, Meg/Ellen's hand cradling at Della's not really stress-related, it has more to do with the guilt she feels for being attracted to Della.

You can't really blame her for that. I mean, look at her! She's got that certain something. (And a modicum of junk in her trunk.) That, too.

I also liked the fact that she had four beauty marks on her face. (Um, I think they're called moles.) You bite your tongue! They're beauty marks, and I don't you forget it.

The film's best Doris Wishman sanctioned inanimate object moment comes when Della is drinking a beer. Resting it on a cabinet after taking a couple of swigs, Della proceeds to change out of her black lace body-stocking and into more conventional underwear (a black bra and charcoal grey panties). As she's doing this, Doris Wishman makes sure to periodically check on how her can of beer is holding up by training her camera on it every now and then.

As far as lingerie goes, you can't really beat Della's black lace body-stocking. However, the scene where Meg/Ellen removes her dress to reveal a black slip with fringe on the bottom and tan stockings should not be discounted. Those who do so, do so at their own peril. Oh, and before I go, it should be noted that Meg/Ellen is one of the most irrational characters in movie history. Which, of course, is just another reason why her character and this film are so great.

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