3. Did Baby Shoot Her Sugardaddy? (1972)

Directed by J. Van Hearn
Written by J. Van Hearn
Starring Vincent Barbi, Cyrill Davidson, Bobby Drake

A trans woman stands as gatekeeper to a brothel. The arcane plot suggests, as this whole terrible world often does, that non-cis people are inherently deceptive. Calling exploitation movies problematic hardly seems worth the breath. A mother and daughter compete for the affections of a crooked cop. It’s only a matter of time before he succumbs to one and gets blackmailed by the other. I still don’t understand how that corpse got under the bed. Or really anything midway to the end. But this is a noir, after all, if you squint hard enough. An amoral investigator doggedly combats his libidinal desires to follow a case to its end. Director J. Van Hearn takes the term femmes fatales a hair too literally. For ten minutes, the film forgoes plot and features dance routines at a strip club. Several years ago I spent a week in L.A. and not once had to deal with an international crime syndicate. A million dollars seems like so little to fret about now. Not like I have that kind of money. Sometimes there’s nothing sadder than three desperate people standing around a dirty swimming pool, pretending to be happy. In the end, a half-dozen sex workers grab handfuls of stolen cash while police scramble, powerless to stop them.

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