Love. Lust. Crime. Pointy metal bras. Abnormally large breasted women named “Baby.” All this and more and I know that you’re already wooed. You are, after all, only flesh and blood and if you have the red stuff running in your veins and a strong muscle thrumming beat after beat in your chest, then 1968’s SHE MOB will have you feeling revved up like a Southern Baptist preacher who just tap-danced the devil right out of some rube’s soul.
SHE MOB is a film full of fabulously wild women and one handsome-grease stain of a man named, what else, Tony (Adam Clyde), but the brightest star is one Marni Castle. This lead actress pulls off a tour-de-force dual role as both Brenda, a successful business woman who is single, rich and spoils her gigolo lover (that would be, quelle surprise, Tony) rotten and Big Shim. When you read a character name like Big Shim it feels like an act of love, because the writer is obviously giving you something you don’t expect. Especially in 1968, where “Big Shim” could be the name of some male mob honcho or ex-con. Making Shim not only a female but a tough, beautifully butch anti-heroine now would be great but for the mid-late 60’s, perfect.
Shim, with her alpha-swagger, black boots and bra-as-a-weapon, despite being technically the villain of the film, is the one you want to see the most of. This is a character that does not just merely live outside the parameters of status quo society but douses gasoline on said parameters and takes a military-grade flamethrower to that business. All with nary a shit given. Shim has bigger business to worry about.
She has her girl-gang of prison escapees, including the Beach-Blanket-ultraness-go-go-dancing Twig (who is literally credited as “Twig”), and ends up setting her sights on Tony as a means to the financial end of Brenda. Her plan of taking low crime into high crime via blackmail is full of torture and man-relief for her sex-starved vixens. But a successful woman like Brenda gets what she wants and when she enlists the services of Sweety East (Monique Duval), who is a Texan-fried, butt-crack rocking version of Honey West, things go from nutzoid to putting out fire with gasoline.
To say that Castle owns both roles is like saying creamed corn is the expectorant of evil itself. In other words, this is a supreme understatement. She exudes authority, whether Castle is rocking some lingerie or chomping on a cigar. This is a lioness who is begging to be held up as a true feminist icon. Be an independent CEO with your own hairy chested uber-male love slave or run a girl gang full of the sexiest future Waffle House hash-slingers/current convicts. You have options. Marni Castle’s Brenda/Big Shim shows that women can be whatever they want. Humiliate a gigolo and dress him up in fine underthings? Why not! The patriarchy needs a Big Shim to pierce its rugged skin with her needle sharp metal bra. Let’s all strap on some black garters, ogle weird-breasted women and go-go dance for gender equality together. Viva la revolution, viva la Big Shim and viva la Harry Wuest for blessing the world with this joyful, demented 1960’s gem from The Lone Star State.
Note from Joey here at The Last Drive In: OOh watch out where you’re going with that pointy steel bra!- that metal sling could be a very dangerous thing ya know- Your Ever Lovin MonsterGirl saying Thank You Heather Drain of Mondo Heather for bringing your mod & ÜBER-Culty expertise to this humble little retro midway….