13 FRIGHTENED GIRLS
(director: William Castle; screenwriters: story by Otis L. Guernsey Jr./Robert Dillon; cinematographer: Gordon Avil; editor: Edwin Bryant; music: Van Alexander; cast: Kathy Dunn (Candace Hull),Murray Hamilton (Wally Sanders), Joyce Taylor (Soldier), Hugh Marlowe (John Hull), Lynne Sue Moon (Mai-Ling – China), Khigh Dhiegh (Kang), Charlie Briggs (Mike), Norma Varden (Miss Pittford), Emil Sitka (Ludwig, school bus driver), Garth Benton (Peter Van Hagen), Walter Rode (Kagenescu),Alexandra Bastedo (England), Ilona Schütze (Germany), Ariane Glaser (France), María Cristina Servera (Argentina), Judy Pace (Liberia), Anna Baj (Italy), Penny Anne Mills (Canada), Janet Mary Prance (Australia), Marie-Louise Bielke (Sweden), Aiko Sakamoto (Japan), Gina Trikonis (USSR); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William Castle; Columbia Pictures; 1963)
“It’s so inane, goofy and lame in a Castle showmanship gimmicky way, that it’s almost winsome despite being so frighteningly dreadful.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
William Castle (“The Tingler”/”House on Haunted Hill”/”Strait-Jacket”)directs a pointless and forgettable but diverting lighthearted campy Cold War spy spoof film. It’s about the 13 daughters of diplomats of different nationalities from around the world who attend an exclusive all-girl Swiss boarding school–Miss Pittford’s Academy. Things become unsettling when a Russian spy (Walter Rode) is murdered in the London house of a Red Chinese diplomat named Kang (Khigh Dhiegh) and his body is stored on a meat hook and later dumped in the Thames, while all the girls are in London to spend a holiday with their families. The 16-year-old Candace ‘Candy’ Hull (Kathy Dunn, one of the Trapp children in “The Sound of Music”), the feisty diminutive blonde-haired Nancy Drew-like daughter of American diplomat John Hull (Hugh Marlowe) based in London, gets involved because she happens to be visiting with her lonely classmate Mai-Ling (Lynne Sue Moon), a sweet girl with a big inferiority complex over the girls only liking her because they have to or want something from her, in her uncle Kang’s home and recovers the murder weapon–which is her dad’s stolen letter opener–and secretly informs the CIA agent Wally Sanders (Murray Hamilton)what really went down.
From hereon Candy takes on the code name Kitten and passes on through childish cut-and-paste notes other valuable spy info only to CIA agent Wally, when she becomes worried that he will be fired if he fails to gather information about the mysterious Russian. Candy’s motivation to be a Mata Hari was because she had a crush on the agent, even though he’s much older, shows no romantic interest in her and is engaged to his code-breaker CIA colleague named Soldier (Joyce Taylor). The mysterious Kitten, because of her access to the homes of diplomats, is so successful and her heroic deeds published in the newspapers make her popular with the public. But that publicity means that she’s now being hunted by all the governments–the friendly ones just want to make contact with her, but the hostile Red Chinese want to eliminate her. It’s up to Wally to figure out who is Kitten and save her.
It’s based on the story by Otis L. Guernsey Jr. and is written by Robert Dillon, but the weak storyline makes this pic DOA.
It’s so inane, goofy and lame in a Castle showmanship gimmicky way, that it’s almost winsome despite being so frighteningly dreadful.The 13 school girls have one thing in common, none of them can act.
REVIEWED ON 10/11/2010 GRADE: C+ https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/