American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"Unholy Rollers" began life, I understand, as an intended rip-off of the expensive Raquel Welch movie, "Kansas City Bomber." The idea was to get into the theaters first. Raquel beat it to the starting gate, alas and so it was held up until now - presumably to give us time to work up another lather for a Roller Derby movie.
Well, I never had much of an appetite in the first place. On a scale of values encompassing the artifacts and customs of Western civilization, the Roller Derby has always seemed to me to rank between yo-yo championships and rotary nose hair clippers. Still, I went to see "Unholy Rollers," partly because of my fond memories of Claudia Jennings as Playboy's Playmate of the Year.
Miss Jennings was all golden and sleek in Playboy. You know; the kind of girl you'd never allow to open the door of her own Lamberghini. That makes her performance in "Unholy Rollers" all the more astonishing. How can I describe it? She plays a very tough broad, and turns in the hardest, most vicious female performance in a long time. It is perhaps a tribute to some vestigial chivalry in Hollywood that women are seldom permitted to play REAL villains, but we get a real one this time. That's one of the most interesting things about "Unholy Rollers" - that it doesn't go soft and sentimental around the edges. In most movies of this sort, if the female lead is a heavy there's some explanation made. She had an unhappy childhood or a cruel father, or something like that. "Unholy Rollers" makes no excuses at all; its heroine was born mean, I guess.
The movie was directed by Vernon Zimmerman and written by Howard R. Cohen, both former Chicagoans who have been making fairly steady headway in Hollywood during the last couple of years. "Unholy Rollers" does not represent the high point of their careers, as I'm sure they would be the first to point out, and both have more ambitious projects in the works right now. But the movie does have a tough sleazy vulgar vitality, and it glories in a lower-middle-class point of view that is unaffected and sometimes very funny.
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