Remember, poor, innocent, well-rounded Mamie van Doren and how she was framed for murder in Girls Town? Well, that's exactly what happens to Ann-Margret in Kitten with a Whip (1954). Except, in this case, Ann-Margret really is guilty, not only of capturing our hearts, but of assault, arson, and kidnapping. All of which are legal in the state of California if you're as ah-ooga as Ann. Or should you always say "Ann-Margret" when you're referring to her? If you met her in a social situation, what would you call her? "Miss Margret" isn't correct, is it? And "Ann" isn't complete or correct. Hardly anybody knows her last name ("Olsson"), so you just call her "Ann-Margret" all the time? Wouldn't that get a little complicated after a while? What did Elvis call her during the filming of Viva Las Vegas? I'm betting "Baby."
Juvenile Delinquent Ms. A.M.O. plays Jody Dvorak, inventor of an unusual keyboard that she insists will revolutionize the way you type, slinks her way into the life of David Stratton (John Forsythe), candidate for senate, compromising his career and threatening the lives of himself and Oscar Goldman from The Six Million Dollar Man (Richard Anderson). It's a more adult and psychological movie than Girls Town or other exploitation flicks MST3K has covered (The Violent Years, The Sinister Urge, Racket Girls), but still not immune to goofy fictional teen slang. You'll never want to use the word "creamy" ever again. Believe me.
The whole situation is both as nightmarish as a Kafka novel and as inappropriately romantically charged as...well, as Lolita. Trying to keep Jody's presence in his house secret, David experiences recurring improbable encounters that threaten his secret: busybody visitors, running into his friend's wife as he's shopping for lingerie for Jody ("Why, David, I thought I'd never find you in ladies' underwear!"), seeing the police all-points-bulletin for Jody's arrest on TV as he's out with Oscar Goldman. David can't catch a break when visitors notice every. Single. Thing. he's trying to hide. He's got worse luck concealing a secret than Jack Tripper in Three's Company.
Even more nightmarish: a guest appearance by "Doodles" Weaver.
It's well-filmed and Ann-Margret is pretty convincing as a flipped-her-wig sexpot, and the movie has a great noir style when the tone begins to get darker and more sinister, turning a scene in which Jody threatens a photograph of David's wife from goofy to menacing.
Then Jody's thug gang shows up, clean-shaven, well-dressed and about as physically menacing as Members Only fashion models.
Jeez, David's senatorial campaign shows every sign of being as solid as Gary Hart's presidential run at this point. It all ends with an ill-advised car race towards Tijuana on the trail of
Although manipulative and sometimes forced, the film's still compelling and quickly-paced, but Mike and the bots have no problem whipping it into shape with riffs, and you can probably make the argument that it's one of both the sexiest and the most disturbing MST3Ks. And yes, there is an actual Kitten with a Whip in the host segments, played by Kevin Murphy.
It's a lot easier watching MST3K that it is writing about it. Perhaps, like Alice B. Toklas said "Writing about art is like dancing about architecture." I'm not actually certain that she said that, but as Google tells me the source is alternatively, Elvis Costello, Steve Martin, Laurie Anderson, Frank Zappa, and La Femme Nikita's Peta Wilson, I figured I'd throw my own lame-assed guess into the mix to confuse future internet scholars. Anyway, watching MST3K critically is to invite needless reciprocal criticism. What's to understand other than, hey, look! It's a guy and his two robots, watching cheesy movies and talking back to them! You might try to blame Joel Hodgson and company for the contemporary culture of the people sitting behind you in a movie theater never once stopping their blabbing mouths all the way through The King's Speech. (SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!) But that's the wrong message to take from Mystery Science Theater 3000. I'd say that it's the important message of all good satire comedy, whether it be Moliere, Animal Farm or Animal House, Punch or MAD magazines: that nothing is sacred, that you can make harmless a threat by poking fun at it, and that when life sends you cheesy movies, make hamdingers. Hail to you, Joel, Mike, Crow, Servo and all: may your riffs never fall flat.