Girl Gang/Pin-Down Girl (1954)

EDITOR’S NOTE: We covered Pin-Down Girl under its other title, Racket Girls, earlier this year. Thanks to this Kino Lorber re-release of Something Weird’s The Golden Age of the Exploitation Picture imprint, we’re watching it again.

Girl Gang is really about Joe (Timothy Farrell), who leads the titular group of young ladies. He hooks them on drugs, then gets willing participants in the crimes of robbery and prostitution. Farrell would play pretty much the same role, under the same name, in 1957’s Gun Girls. His main girl June is played by Joanne Arnold, who was the Playboy Playmate of the Month for May 1954.

This is the kind of movie I find myself loving when I’m not watching Italian splatter or Mexican lucha movies: too old to be teenagers getting in trouble and dragging down everyone else with them.

Pin-Down Girl also has Farrell, this time as Umberto Scalli, a women’s wrestling manager who uses the world of pro wrestling to hide all of the racketeering, bookmaking and prostitution he has his dirty little fingers wrapped up in. Oh yeah — he also owes the mob enough money for them to want him dead.

Peaches Page, Clara Mortensen and Rita Martinez were all real wrestlers in a movie that threatened to show the real side of the business.

Farrell had already played Scalli in The Devil’s Sleep and despite getting killed by organized crime at the close of this film, he would come back for Dance Hall Racket, which has Lenny Bruce and his wife Honey Harlow. Now that I think of it, Scalli dies in every movie he shows up in. Is he an eternal man forced to be killed again and again for the sins of vice and wrestling women?

The man playing these roles was no saint either. At the same time that he was making these movies, the actor worked as a bailiff for the Los Angeles Marshal’s Department. He was embarrassed at work when he — and the entire cast — of Paris After Midnight was arrested by the Los Angeles Vice Squad as they made the movie. Things went pretty well after that with Farrell being appointed the County Marshal in 1971. But in 1975, he was fired after his conviction on felony charges for illegal use of deputy marshals in political activities. He would have gone to jail for six months, but just got probation because he was in bad health. He spent the rest of his life managing properties and a lumber mill when he wasn’t saving animals with his wife, so perhaps he learned his lesson.

Both of these movies came to be because of producer George Weiss, who is perhaps best known for getting Glen or Glenda? out there, as well as padding the film with nonsensical sequences of BDSM and dancing women. He’s also the man responsible for producing Olga’s House of Shame, White Slaves of Chinatown, Olga’s Girls, Mme. Olga’s Massage Parlor and Olga’s Dance Hall Girls, a series of roughie films that scandalized the screens of their era, as well as providing insidious influence for the Findlays and John Waters.

I truly appreciate that these films are being released on blu ray and preserved for generations of weirdos like me who may come in the future.

The Kino Lorber blu ray re-release of these films has Girl Gang and Pin-Down girl remastered in 2K from the original and re-release 35mm negative. The former has commentary by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas while the latter has a commentary track by Eric Schaefer, author of Bold! Daring! Shocking! True!: A History of Exploitation Films 1919-1959.

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