So, if it's not apparent already, this is a bit of a nostalgia thread, because I've been feeling nostalgic and keep watching forgotten or semi-forgotten movies from my youth.
And one thing I really loved when I was young were all the street-hustle movies of the early 80s. Watching them made me feel so grown up. But it was a weird thing back then, HBO had come on the scene and most parents didn't really know what to do with it and didn't really realize that their children (I was 9 when we got HBO and maybe 10 1/2 when my parents stopped paying any attention to what I was watching) were watching some really adult-content shit. And I became enthralled by these urban-sleaze high-violence B-movies.
, Vice Squad
, The Exterminator
, Savage Streets
, Death Wish
, Deadly Force
, drugs, prostitution, murder, rape, torture, revenge, the perfect entertainment diet for a boy 11, 12, 13, 14 years old. It's a miracle I'm not a serial-killer. At least I don't think I am.
So I one day around 13 years old, I came to Streetwalkin'
, a charming tale about a teenage girl and her younger brother who've run away from home to NYC. Living on the streets and starving, unable to even feed her little brother, Cookie takes a charming street-hustler in a subway station up on his offer of help.
By the very next scene, she is a prostitute in Times Square, the girlfriend of the hustler, a pimp named Duke who must be alright because he's so sweet to her. Little does she know that Duke is not just helping to manage her, he is actually a violent, psychotic pimp who beats his girls viciously for not having their money right. Little does she know until she comes home to find her friend dying from the beating Duke has put on her. From here, the movie kicks into an overdrive of violence and sleaze, in the best 80s B-movie way, as Cookie sets out to free herself and the other girls from the sadistic Duke.
Yes, that is the 24 year-old version of Academy Award-winner, Melissa Leo
, and she's quite good in this. The fact that she is slender and slight and more pretty than sexy, makes it all the more effective when she cuts deals with johns and pimps and picks up a gun when lives are on the line. And she's accompanied by a fairly interesting cast of characters, including none other than Julie Newmar, as a sort-of self-proclaimed queen-of-the-streets who's been around a long time and seen it all.
The cast is even rounded out by Emmie Award-nominee Khandi Alexander.
This film is in the tradition of Angel
and Vice Squad
, if anything it's almost like a remake of Vice Squad
, one of the most mean and gritty urban-sleaze movies of the 1980s, complete with the sadistic pimp, the dead friend (murdered by said sadistic pimp), and the desperate gambit for freedom from the sadistic resulting in all kinds of violence.
But writer/director (and former PBS documentarian) Joan Freeman manages to take a slightly better budget and make a cleaner (not less sleazy, just more streamlined and with better actors) version of the story, not a better one necessarily, but not a bad film, either, certainly a good example of the sub-genre.
New York Times film critic Janet Maslin wrote in September of 1985, "TIMES SQUARE tawdriness is ordinarily the province of male directors, but Joan Freeman has made a fast-paced, creditable B-movie out of Streetwalkin
And I think that's accurate.
46 year-old Wooley found it a fast-paced, creditable B-movie.
But 13 year-old Wooley just felt like such a big boy in all this sleaze.