Women That Give Us Woodies- Gillian Hills in “Beat Girl”

Downtown Philadelphia used to have the Palace Theater located at 13th and Market streets. There, literally in the shadows of City Hall, you could, for 50-cents, sit out a gloomy Saturday afternoon watching a triple feature offering a range of sleaze, film noir and other Grindhouse fare [most of which are now finding their way on DVD release for the first time via various cult websites].

How at the age of 13 they used to let me in that Pine Oil smelling [for obvious cosmetic reasons] emporium is beyond me. But this is about the time [1960] that I discovered a British celluloid gem called “Wild for Kicks” aka “Beat Girl”.

Juvenile delinquent movies, mainly because of James Dean, were very popular at the time. In fact Dyan Cannon got her start playing a background bimbo named Wiggles in another teen pic called Rebel Breed which featured a bunch of suggestive sex and one in-your-face nude skinny dip sequence [not Cannon, though, unfortunately].

Wild for Kicks was another story. There was nudity, nudity and more nudity. Unfortunately the version you might see if you cross paths with this film nowadays is so chopped up as to be very frustrating to watch. Because you know something good was obviously excised from it.

Horror icon Christopher Lee, of all people, plays Kenny, the owner of a Soho strip club. The wonderful British actor Nigel Green is Kenny’s strong arm. A very young Oliver Reed is one of the teen delinquents, and the gorgeous Gillian Hills, the subject of our essay, is the queen bee of the group.

Hills was often compared to French sex kitten Brigette Bardot and for good reason. Both women were discovered by Roger Vadim, but I’d like to make the case that Hills just in this one movie is sultrier than Bardot in the sum total of hers.

Hills has discovered that her straight arrow father [David Farrar] has remarried. As if this isn’t grating enough for Hills, she also learns that mom [Noelle Adam who was in a ton of these sleaze epics] was a former French stripper.

Naturally this brings Hills, in search of an off color job to spite dad, to Christopher Lee’s world for a scintillating portion of the film’s footage as strippers nonchalantly go about their routines on stage. In the truncated version, sadly, we only get a hint of this. In a wild party sequence, Hills does a striptease of her own that’s pretty tempestuous but stops short of total payoff.

Brazen defiance is written all over Hills’ pretty face in this glorious performance of a female teenage rebel. In fact she’s so incendiary it’s a small wonder that any form of this film, embellished by a twangy John Barry music score, still exits which long ago should have been consumed by the fires of Hell for being that naughty.

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