THE BIG DOLL HOUSE —-women-in-prison exploitation junk cost Roger Corman $125,000 to make and earned $10,000,000 in 1971, including a few bucks from myself and four horny 16 year-old buddies who saw it on a double-bill with the even crummier The Student Nurses. Imagine our collective letdown after ads that promised “Their bodies were caged, but not their desires. They would do anything for a man. Or to him.”
With the superlative acting talents of Pam Grier and Sid Haig (all charm). Directed by Jack Hill, shot in The Philippines, it’s a cult item, beloved for lines like “Get it up or I’ll cut if off” (my pals and I cackling our heads off:I think pot was involved) and “So horny you could actually hear them honkin ‘” (another gut-buster–we were young dorks, what can I say?…).
The Wikipedia entry for this classic of bad contains the following, best delivered with a straight face: “As a drive-in film of the first order, it retains an energetic over an intellectual bent, and thus avoids serious consideration of or accuracy in portraying the actual situation of female American prisoners…” Oh, I get it…
Others on display (the right word) over 95 minutes are Judy Brown, Roberta Collins and Christiane Schmidtmer. The last had a big break six years earlier as the ditzy mistress of Jose Ferrer’s happy Nazi in Ship Of Fools. Nicknamed “Liebesbombe”/”Love Bomb“, when the movie career faded (only so many parts for statuesque Germanic sex goddesses with marginal acting ability) Christiane hit paydirt in California real estate sales, and later published an autobio “My Wild Nights In Hollywood”. Liebesbombe passed away after an accident in 2003, only 63. This opus marked the acting debut of 22-year-old Pam Grier (she’d had a bit as a partygoer in Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls). Ragged until she eventually got the hang of it, the imposing Pam would later etch notably fine work in Fort Apache The Bronx and Jackie Brown.