Film Review for "Bad Girls” 1994
A “by the numbers” western that substituted contemporary women of the day for the popular stereotype cowboy buddy film. The film starts out with the four female protagonists working as women of the night in a saloon. One of the woman says “no” to a kiss from a colonel visiting the saloon and when he persists, another of the women, Cody, shoots him. Cody is rescued by her fellow compatriots and then they flee town. It’s actually more complicated than that, but that’s the general gist of it.
The women’s quest for independence is the structure the film uses to address the differences between men and women in the early years of the US. The main points touched on were that women didn’t have as many options or rights. The film tackles issues like how women without husbands could be beaten and raped with little or no consequences to the men. A woman, without a husband, also could not hold title to land - and therefor if her husband died (or she left him) she became homeless.
All of the darker actions that occur to the women, rapes and beatings, are alluded to - but never shown. The villainous men in the film seem to play their roles as caricatures. I feel that caricaturing the villains downplays the horrendous acts of abuse that women were subjected to during this film and during this time in American history.
All in all, it’s a better than average film for it’s time, and some of the landscape cinematography is stunning. My one wish is that the producers and director had taken it more seriously. Properly handled, this could have been the western version of “Thelma & Louise”.