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  Lady Cocoa Cop Kisses PrisonerBuy this film here.
Year: 1975
Director: Matt Cimber
Stars: Lola Falana, Gene Washington, Alex Dreier, Millie Perkins, Joe Greene, James A. Watson Jr, Gary Harper, James Sweeney, Richard Kennedy, George 'Buck' Flower, John F. Goff, La Verne Watson
Genre: Thriller
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Coco (Lola Falana) has been in prison these past eighteen months, but now it looks as if she'll be released. She was not jailed for any terrible crime, only that she would not testify against her boyfriend, a Harlem gangster seeking to open up business in Las Vegas; she has changed her mind about speaking out against him and now must be moved from her cell to a Lake Tahoe hotel and casino in preparation for the courtroom appearance. They find her a dress to wear, though she's not impressed with its quality, and two cops, the older lieutenant Ramsey (Alex Dreier) and the younger Doug (Gene Washington) arrive to escort her...

Escort her into danger! Well, that's the idea, but for the most part Lady Cocoa seemed to be extremely reluctant to set the pulse racing, preferring to concentrate on the blossoming relationship between the female lead and cop Doug and leaving anything resembling a thriller until the last act. To make it clear that there is a threat to Coco's life, every so often we cut to a shot of the character being viewed down a rifle's crosshairs, and see two hitmen, one played by ex-professional football player "Mean" Joe Greene, who never say a word, possibly to render them more sinister, possibly to make them cheaper to hire.

Director Matt Cimber was one of many low budget filmmakers in the seventies who found that blaxploitation was a lucrative angle with which to sell your upcoming opus, but like too many of his fellow producers, appeared to take the stance that simply casting African-American actors was enough to make your film qualify for success with your target audience, no matter what the quality of your script was like. So it is here, with Las Vegas star - one of the most popular the city ever saw - Lola Falana reduced to sassy quips and antagonistic behaviour as a way of building up personality. She can be pretty funny here, and was certainly an attractive presence, but you can see why Coco gets on many viewers' nerves.

Not to mention the nerves of the other characters. Once they reach their hotel room, a place apparently surrounded by snow and freezing winds judging by the constant chilly breeze sound effects whenever anyone goes outside, Coco starts causing trouble by demanding a huge amount of food from the menu which it then turns out she does not want, showering every five minutes, and working out ways to improve her wardrobe. To this end, she persuades the much put-upon Doug to take her down to the gambling tables where she borrows some money from him and promptly wins a load of cash thanks to a convenient winning streak that you get in movies like this.

Then it's off to the shops where Coco gets decked out in an orange polo neck and tan slacks combination - frankly, the dress she came out of jail in looked better, and after a spot of shoplifiting (Doug dutifully returns the necklace) they get to talking to another couple who are on their honeymoon just as Coco and Doug are pretending to be as a cover story. One of that couple is played by Millie Perkins, well into her dubious choices of the seventies roles and just before she appeared in Cimber's The Witch Who Came From the Sea; she turns out to be hiding a secret that arrives from out of the blue, but demonstrates how this could have been more worthwhile if they had increased the more outrageous aspects. As it is, if it was not for the swearing and the odd bit of nudity, this could have been a TV pilot. For something. Music by Luchi De Jesus, with much emphasis on Pop Goes the Weasel.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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