Starring: Leslie McRae, Tom Pace, Jody Daniels
Director: Ted V. Mikels
Girl in Gold Boots (1968) finds cheapo schlockmeister Ted V. Mikels in Valley of the Dolls mode. Fed up of working in a roadside cafe and consumed with the burning ambition to be a go-go dancer, Michele (Leslie McRae) runs off to Los Angeles with Buz (Tom Pace), a minor hoodlum, and Critter (Jody Daniels), a penniless songwriter, and for the first half hour the movie tries your patience as you wonder if they’re ever going to get there. But they do, and there are some atmospheric location shots of Hollywood Boulevard strung with Christmas lights, and the film finally justifies its garish poster art when Buz’s sister Joanie (Bara Byrnes) gets Michele a job at the club where she’s the lead dancer (shot in a real horror-themed joint called the Haunted House) and where the chorines prance around in silver underwear.
Be warned, a sentimental cop-out ending awaits, but before that you get a decent 40 minutes or so of gaudy, sexed up melodrama set to a twangy beat music soundtrack. While Critter gets a job as the club janitor and pines for Michele from afar, dolefully clutching his mop, Buz becomes involved in the dope-peddling operation run by the club’s creepy manager, Leo (Mark Herron), who in turn sets about corrupting Michele by inviting her to one of his notorious champagne and bongo parties, where she struts her stuff with gay abandon.
Not everyone will be impressed by what passed for dancing in the ’60s – on this evidence, the key was to stick out your arms like you were smelling your armpits and flick your hands as though shooing off gnats. But there’s no denying that Leslie McRae is an enthralling physical specimen, and she makes for a surprisingly dignified leading lady too, one who knows her mind. When Critter tries to save her from a life of jiggling around in her underpants, she gives him such short shrift he has to comfort himself by standing in the rain, howling out a ballad.
There are some other fun performances – not from the two male leads, they’re hopeless, but from Mark Herron, who grits his teeth villainously even when he’s knocking back glasses of bubbly, and from Bara Byrnes, who breathes warmth and humour into her portrait of a go-go girl who’s over the hill and who is now prone to hot flushes and barbiturate stupors. Yes, the movie has its undoubted failings, but it brews up an appealingly sleazy ambience, the leggy floorshows have plenty of energy and it’s much more watchable than its reputation would suggest.
The DVD transfer is scratchy and faded, but that only adds to the period charm. The disc also comes with a not very forthcoming audio commentary by Mikels.