Racket Girls (1951)

Peaches Page, Timothy Farrell, Clara Mortensen, Rita Martínez, Muriel Gardner, Don Ferrara, Matt Douglas,
A money launderer uses women's wrestling as a front for his illegal activities, but earns the enmity of a powerful mobster.
  • 1.7 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Writer:
  • Robert C. Dertano, Director:
  • George Weiss, Producer:

Trailer:

1 / 10

Magnificent, just magnificent

There couldn't be more perfect MST3K fodder if Mike and the Bots directed it themselves. Lame and directionless plot, unapologetic and endless reuse of footage, molasses-in-January pacing, production values that would make Roger Corman wince, gratuitous sexuality from intensely unsexy women, ultra-doofy characters...oh yeah, and it's a SPECIAL INTEREST PICTURE ABOUT WOMEN'S WRESTLING IN THE FIFTIES.

Well, at least it starts that way. You will catch nary a glimpse of dull-witted, mammoth-chested "protagonist" (the movie doesn't really have one) wrestler Peaches in the closing act, as the screenplay (like a rambling, senile old man) has decided to focus its attention on the sleazy promoter and his downfall at the hands of a gangster scintillatingly named "Mr. Big." Thus, the film degenerates from campy fiftiesdom into grade-Z noir.

I bestow upon this picture the greatest of all honors--a 1 out of 10. Plenty of schlocky black-and-white pictures get compared to the illustrious Ed Wood's work--this is the rare one that actually merits the comparison. It's pure gold.

6 / 10

"Maybe I'm crazy!" "It helps a little..."

One of the best MST3K send-ups of all time. It's hard to imagine a movie more primed for satire.

It's all there: the ineffective hoods, the Michael Stipe lookalike; the short, ethnic sidekick; "Monk", who gets off some killer lines when he's not coked-up, and of course Peaches, the disturbingly Amazonian wrestler with a room-temperature IQ and the build of a Greyhound bus.

Check out Rita Martinez doing a killer Gilda Radner imitation, as she declares in a pre-NAFTA time, "You theenk you can take advantage of me because I am Mexican!" Well, her agent clearly did.

As the ad copy usually says, "It's an experience you'll want to watch again and again!" And you will - laughter is truly the best medicine.

7 / 10

You'll watch the wrestling footage as a way to punish yourself for having indecent thoughts.

"Racket Girls" purports to be a searing inside look at the seamy side of Women's Professional Wrestling. So instead of "High School Confidential", we get "Head Lock Confidential".

Heh, I slay me.

Anyway, "Racket Girls" features a whole lot of mannish women rassling the hell out of each other. This might seem like an intriguing prospect to those of you (I won't name names - you know who you are) that found erotic possibilities in those goofy soft-core 'catfighting' picture collections that were on the newsstands 30 years ago.

Naaah. Imagine Captain Lou Albano vs. Mad Dog Raschon, only 150 lbs lighter and with boobs. Film it in grainy black and white and subtract all the showbiz gimmicks and any decent stunts. You would watch this kind of action in order to punish yourself for having indecent thoughts.

The plot? Well, "Racket Girls" follows the career of up-and-coming wrestler "Peaches" Page as she struggles for success and recognition. Peaches has a nice hair-do, a huge rack, impeccably plucked and shaped eyebrows, and an expression of amiable and invincible stupidity. She is the best thing about the film.

"Racket Girls" also follows the antics of her new manager "Sculli" and his stereotypical immigrant Italian sidekick "Joe" as they wheel and deal in the shadowy world of gambling while using Women's Wrestling as a front. Supporting Sculli in his efforts are a turtle faced grandma with the body of a 20 year old, an accountant named "Monk" who obsesses about other peoples' apartments, the enigmatic "Mr. Big", who sends Micheal Stipe to threaten Sculli at random moments in the screen play, and an assortment of stone faced women in undergarments who do the actual wrestling.

But Sculli overreaches himself - he 'buckets' too many bets, and he tries to bribe "World Champion" Clara Mortenson into throwing her match, and this brings punishment swift and merciless. Peaches bails out on him 10 minutes before the end (never to be seen again) and Sculli comes to a bad end in a hail of bullets and "Hop Along Cassidy Run Away Stage Coach" music. (Or alternatively, as Mike and the Bots would have it, "the Ukranian National Anthem").

I'm making it sound better than it is, believe it or not. This little nugget was hermetically sealed to prevent any trace of actual emotion or humanity from reaching the celluloid. Cast members declaimed their lines as if they were reading them from cue cards for the first time, and you get a sense that there weren't a lot of 2nd takes or film left over on the cutting room floor when the editors were done.

I never would have seen this, except as an episode on MST3K, and their coverage adds a desperately needed element of humor and irony to watching it - in fact, I feel this is one of their best "post Joel" sessions. I can't imagine anyone watching "Racket Girls" for any other reasons - if you have a yen for old school B-and-W epics, there are dozens of better Republic serials and gangster flicks to choose from. In fact, of all the MST oldies, only "I Accuse My Parents" would be of less interest to a modern day audience.

Still, Peaches is a striking figure, and we will never know what happened to her, or whether she was really as uncomprehending and cement-brained as she appeared here....so in empathy for a mysterious, possibly tragic film figure (not you, Dick Contino), I give it an extra couple of stars. 3 out 10.

1 / 10

How can you make an exploitation film about lady wrestlers this dull?!

You would think that although "Pin Down Girls" (aka "Racket Girls") would be a cheap exploitation film, it would have a lot of excitement and perhaps some sexy action. Well, this assumption would be 100% wrong, as the film is far from exciting and about sexy as watching your granny getting a sponge bath!

The film stars 'Peaches' Page (as more or less herself) and Timothy Farrell (an actor in such prestige pictures as Ed Wood's "Glen or Glenda" and "Jailbait"!). Peaches is a wrestler who comes to work for Mr. Scalli (Farrell)--not realizing he's a cheap crook who owes the mob big time. There really isn't much more to the plot than that. In fact, the plot, such as it is, only takes up a tiny portion of the film. Most of it consists of lady wrestling matches--very, very dull ones. The matches lack dialog or narration and there is no incidental music during these scenes. Instead, there are lots of sound effects which seem to be random and having nothing to do with wrestling! Also, if you are expecting lots of sexy ladies and hair pulling and the like, don't hold your breath! It mostly consists of unattractive ladies tossing each other about with absolutely no sense of showmanship or style. If this is what the sport looked like at the time, I can't see how it was one of the most popular shows on early television (which it was).

Aside from being very dull, the film is a technical mess. Too often, shots appeared random and irrelevant. The acting (when there was any) was pretty bad and the whole thing looks like an Ed Wood sort of picture--cheap, dull and non-professional. Sadly, this is a bad film but not an enjoyable bad film to watch. There is no spark or excitement to reward the viewer--just lots of nothing of any particular interest. Amazingly bland and stupid.

8 / 10

Undervalued classic in a pristine new package

I like b&w films, because those are two colours like any others, and have the merit of being better than current blockbusters showing a dark blue image on a black background to mask the poor acting, set decoration, and cinematography.

I also like films that have some historical value, and Racket Girl does. It was one of a kind in terms of sexploitation; it covers extensively the novelty of post-war time, women engaging in athletics, and "men's sports" such as wrestling; it shows extensive wrestling matches with real life women wrestlers; it has a sexy mature gym trainer and masseuse, and a peachy blonde, Miss Peaches, to please male (and female, as lesbianism was implied then) viewers of all age brackets; the film was impounded by the police for the fact at least one person cast in it was on bail, and should no be working when he did it.

I like re-editions of films that serve both the entertainment, and the historical documentation of the film's production, and this Special Edition from Something Weird Video does. The original Racket Girls was announced at 70 min, this edition has 67 min and does say so, which is commendable; it's only my guess, but the missing scenes would be a shower, and more of the body massage of Miss Peaches. To compensate for the loss, you have the long original trailer, and an audio commentary by Johnny Legend, a wrestler promoter himself, and a couple of other people who give some interesting background and critical views of the film. The DVD option of audio on is for the second or third viewing of the film, and will be of interest to film and wrestling fans.

The quality of the print is not excellent - but as I have tried VHS copies, legit and bootleg before, I'd say this one is the best restoration available outside a major studio.

All the above are reasons to put this on the shelf at home; one shall return to it for the extras: six other assorted matches of women wrestling from the 8mm silent films, also in good digital transfers, four little amateur cat-fights on a park lawn, and a large gallery of women wrestlers from the Forties to the Sixties, and last but not least, a segment on Roller Derby girls, when the girls skated fast, pushed, shoved, elbowed, and punched to prevent their rivals from passing through the mêlée.

Note for feminists: I know that women wrestling is supposed to be politically incorrect these days, but please see this feature. Discard the four apartment wrestlers in bikinis that end up by showing four breasts in the only colour segment of the DVD - and please note that I did not count THAT among the pluses of this edition... Watch carefully the dialogue of REAL wrestler Clara Mortensen with the shady promoter, when she says, and she sounds like she means it, "Wrestling is one of the few clean sports, and I intend to keep it that way." Next, she is having a talk from pro to tyro with Miss Peaches, the big asset the promoter had just signed in, and she takes her away from the racket even before she does her match with another rough-and-tumble champion, Rita Martinez. Isn't it a beauty? That back in 1951 the only assertive, positive views on wrestling comes from two women (Mortensen and Martinez)? It's better than equality - it's supremacy of ethics in the work environment.