Ann-Margret, John Forsythe, and Peter Brown in Kitten with a Whip (1964)


(director/writer: Douglas Heyes; screenwriter: from the book by Wade Miller; cinematographer: Joseph Biroc; editor: Russell F. Schoengarth; music: Joseph Gershenson; cast: Ann-Margret (Jody Dvorak), John Forsythe (David Stratton), Peter Brown (Ron), Patricia Barry (Vera), Richard Anderson (Grant), James Ward (Buck Vogel), Diane Sayer (Midge), Ann Doran (Mavis Varden), Patrick Whyte (Phillip Varden), Audrey Dalton (Virginia Stratton), Leo Gordon (Sgt. Enders), Patricia Tiara (Striptease Dancer), Nora Marlowe (Clara), Frances Robinson (Martha); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Harry Keller; Universal; 1964)

Unpleasant exploitative B-movie.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Veteran TV director Douglas Heyes (“Beau Geste”) is writer and director of this unpleasant exploitative B-movie, which gets over as a cult film (due to all its campy sexual innuendos and unique way of presenting juvenile delinquents). It’s based on the novel by Wade Miller.

The 17-year-old Jody Dvorak (Ann-Margret) is an escapee from a San Diego girls’ juvenile home who has stabbed Clara (Nora Marlowe), one of the matrons, and set fire to the dorm. She breaks into the upscale house of wealthy business magnate and aspiring politician David Stratton (John Forsythe) and climbs into his bed in her prison nightgown. After a political rally at night, David returns home to find the sultry Jody in bed. Since his wife of seven years is away with their daughter visiting her folks in San Francisco and giving some thought to their marriage problems of non-communication, David thinks this is a set-up by his rivals and phones the police. But he soon changes his mind when Jody gives him a tall-tale story of her life and he feels sorry for the runaway troubled girl. He buys her a dress, a bus ticket to Los Angeles and gives her money to go away. David is saddened when he hears later a newscast about how she escaped in such a violent way and learns the truth about the fugitive he helped. The next day Jody returns and brings her beat-talking ruffian juvenile delinquent pals – Ron (Peter Brown) and Buck (Skip Ward). Jody, who first gets over as a misunderstood teen, now reverts to being a scheming and heartless bitch. The gang decides to party in David’s house all night, and threaten to ruin his senatorial aspirations by claiming he helped Jody escape for sexual favors, if he doesn’t play ball. After getting drunk on David’s booze, Ron is slashed with a razor by the muscular Buck and Jody forces David to drive the trio to Tijuana so that the injured thug can see a doctor there.

All the stilted dialogue leads to a fiery ending, that seemed as mixed-up as the over-the-top story and its undeveloped lead characters.