Wednesday 11 February 2015

Fraulein Kitty (Patrice Rohmm, 1977) Review

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“You were nothing but a cheap harlot when I saw you.” Practically the same movie as Hitler's Last Train, which was made by the same people just a few months earlier, Fraulein Kitty – with it's severe and insatiable central character Elsa (Malisa Longo) – is a cash-in on the likes of Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS (Don Edmonds, 1975) and Salon Kitty (Tinto Brass, 1976). Boasting sets that quiver whenever someone closes a door, and World War II freedom fighters dressed like they casually stepped in from the 1970s, no expense has been spent in this French 'Nazisploitation' from Eurociné, the folks that gave the world the green-skinned Nazi zombies and underwater bush shots of Zombie Lake...

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“You will lick my boots.” As the opening titles roll, the film kicks off with an extended sequence of black and white stock footage from WWII – Nazis marching about blowing things up, as was their way – before awkwardly cutting to the colour footage of the main feature. It's 1943 and the Nazi's are enacting 'strategic withdrawals', inspiring dissent among the rank and file of the high command – should they fight on blindly, or accept their impending defeat?

“You shall give them all they've been deprived of here, love and tenderness.” Promoted to Colonel, Elsa Ackermann – a former madam of a brothel that served the military elite of the Third Reich – is charged with facilitating the 'Women's Special Contingent', a secret plot to sniff out the traitors within their ranks once and for all. Those chosen for the service are journeyed to the front lines where they must seduce commanding officers and nervous soldiers alike, and extract dissent from them in supposed confidence.

“A deserter, a coward, a traitor, they should be put to death.” Naturally, Elsa's listening in and is quick to snuff out any man who dares to believe all is lost – all it seems except for her own lover Major Frantz Holbach (Olivier Mathot). Suddenly outranked by the woman he lifted out of prostitution, and disillusioned by what the Nazi's have done to his Germany, his relationship with Elsa is one of bitter insults and contention. To Frantz she's a slutty, blood thirsty pimp, and to Elsa he's a champagne socialist with obscure perversions – but with her leather boots, riding crop, and see-through negligee, Elsa always aims to come out on top.

“The war is lost and we'll be buried together among the corpses of millions.” However, there's a spy on board Elsa's train of sin, the freedom fighters are on their way, and Frantz has fallen for Liselotte (Patrizia Gori), one of the girls set up to ensnare those with treasonous intentions.

“Here's a toast to the end of an expensive nightmare.” Even at eighty-three minutes the pace is often plodding, with unending shots of the train, and people walking from one point to another. Indeed, there's even an overlong interlude in which we return to more stock footage as Frantz recounts the horrors of combat, complete with laughably conspicuous close up inserts of him looking from left to right and then back again. Action wise it's light – all single take wide shots with no muzzle flash – and for a sub-genre known for its darkness, Fraulein Kitty is surprisingly light fare. Torture amounts to a few cracks of a whip and some leather glove slapping, as the tone shifts from jaunty to soporific as a result of the mismatched soundtrack.

“You need more, Elsa – murder – blood in the Führer’s name, but you won't survive!” So it's skimpy on violence and shocks, but on the other hand it's also skimpy on clothing. Generous helpings of bared skin make up for the otherwise soft serve vibe of the flick, particularly when Elsa strips off to satisfy her carnal urges. Indeed, the best part of the film is Malisa Longo – with her jet black eyeliner – but her character is not given an awful lot more to do than scowl and stand defiantly with her hands on her hips. A Kitten for sure, but far from a She-Wolf.

“It's your system all right, spying and trapping, keeping you in power.” Despite it's lack of grindhouse bite, Fraulein Kitty still holds some interest. The plot, in spite of its similarity to Hitler's Last Train, is interesting in that it pits the Nazis against one another, rather than wallowing in the darker depths that Nazisploitation is typically known for. It's cheesy and camp, cheap and surprisingly cheerful, and Elsa and Frantz make for good sparring partners, but it's also padded with filler. This film is also known as Elsa Fraulein SS, Fraulein Devil, and Captive Women 4.

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