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Film / Kitten with a Whip

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Kitten with a Whip is a 1964 exploitation crime drama film directed by Douglas Heyes, starring Ann-Margret and John Forsythe.

David Stratton (Forsythe), a candidate running for the U.S. Senate whose wife is out of town, comes home one night to find that Jody (Ann-Margret), an escaped juvenile delinquent, has broken into his house. A combination of crocodile tears followed by extortion ends up with him trying to keep Jody both in his house and away from the press, the police and his family. Things get worse when Jody's gang of friends shows up, and before he knows it he's held hostage taking a wounded man to Tijuana for off-the-record medical treatment. Where do Jody's sympathies really lie? And how is David going to keep all of this from ruining his campaign?

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page.


Kitten with a Whip contains the following tropes:

  • Affably Evil: Ron might be a Straw Nihilist who enables his friends' crimes and is an accomplice in them basically holding Stratton hostage, but he also comes across as a genuinely nice guy. He respectfully refers to Stratton as "buddy" or "sir" in a way that seems genuine, he never threatens Stratton but does make it clear that he expects Stratton to help them out, and he tries his hardest to keep Psycho Party Member Buck under control (though he fails hard at that in the end, at least he tries) even letting Buck punch him in the face at one point in order to spare Stratton from the same
  • Ambiguous Disorder: The most the movie says about Jody is that she's "troubled" but her wild mood swings and erratic, often violent behavior suggest something far more severe.
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  • Artistic License – Medicine: While it's certainly possible that someone could die from a straight-razor cut to the triceps if it wasn't treated, the speed with which Ron nearly bleeds out when there are no relevant arteries hit is quite unrealistic.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Stratton is in the clear and won't be faced with a scandal over the events of the past few days, and Jody saves his life after Buck beats him nearly to death. However Jody herself succumbs to injuries she sustained in the car accident when Buck runs them off the road, and only manages to clear Stratton with her dying breaths.
  • Blackmail: Jody tells Stratton that if he calls the police on her, she'll accuse him of rape — or, at the very least, claim to be his mistress, threatening both his home life and his career. "I'll be a celebrity! And SO WILL YOU!"
  • Car Chase: The climax of the film, as Jody tries to get Stratton to the hospital, and Buck tries to run them off the road. Ends with "Rocks Fall, *Almost* Everybody Dies."
  • Cheated Death, Died Anyway: Ron, who was "dyin' in a rush" after getting gashed with a razor, is gotten to a doctor in Tijuana just in time to save him... he then dies in the car crash along with Buck and Jody after Buck runs them all off the road.
  • Delinquents: Jody specifically escaped from a home for juvenile delinquents after knifing a nun who tried to stop her from escaping. Her friends Buck and Ron are almost as bad.
  • Deus ex Machina: The Senate candidate is exonerated from even the risk of suspicion at the last moment, when Jody "explains" that he was an innocent in the ending car crash with her dying breath.
  • Dull Surprise: Stratton's facial expressions and vocal tone rarely change from "vaguely irritated."
  • Extreme Doormat:
    • There are about a half dozen different places where the movie would have ended immediately if only Stratton would grow a spine. Against Ron and Buck, at least, it's justifiable, since they're younger and stronger than he is, there's two of them, and Buck is clearly a dangerous psychopath as proved when Stratton does finally stand up to him at the end and gets beaten to within an inch of his life.
    • Also, Midge. Almost every line out of her mouth is either submissive to Buck or telling Jody how great she is.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: ZigZagged all over the place. The movie constantly goes back and forth on whether Jody is nothing but a viper or not. Every time she seems like she's not so bad, then she'll do something horrible to show that she is bad after all, only to then have her find a moment of lucidity and Pet the Dog again. Ends on a Hell of a subversion, though, as she not only risks her life to get Stratton to a hospital after Buck kicks his ass, but even uses her dying breath to clear Stratton of any wrongdoing.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Jody takes a full bottle of booze to the back of Buck's skull to protect Stratton.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: It takes very little to set Buck off, and once he is you do not want to be in his path.
  • Honor Before Reason: By the end of the movie, the insane Jody has thoroughly screwed over not just Stratton, but her friends as well, but Stratton is finally in a position to easily be free of the lot of them... all he has to do is abandon Jody to be murdered by her psychotic "friend" Buck, who is now out for revenge against her himself. Stratton can't do it and refuses to tell Buck and Ron where she is. Even when they manage to find her anyway, Buck straight up tells Stratton he'll let him go, and even Jody admits this is probably what she deserves, he refuses and gets beaten nearly to death trying to save her.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Played with. At first, Ron tells them (and demonstrates when Buck punches him) that he feels no pain; later he gets gashed with a straight razor and calmly announces "I'm dyin' in a rush." However, as they try to drive him to an off-the-grid medic in Mexico, his bravado begins to crumble.
    Buck: Come on, buddy, 'no pain', 'no pain'!
    Ron: Sorry, buddy, not working! (Takes a slug from a bottle.)
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Jody, with a triple helping of manic. This might be one of the few cases of this trope where the girl isn't just annoying but is outright dangerously psychotic.
  • Mood-Swinger: Jody, who sometimes goes through multiple moods in a single sentence.
  • Moving the Goalposts: Every time Stratton gives in to Jody's demands, she just demands more, because she realizes that her threat of "cry rape" gives her unlimited power over him.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Even Jody doesn't seem to know which parts of her past were real and which ones she made up.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Jody has this attitude in her rare lucid moments, and genuinely seems distressed when Stratton confronts her over whey she would hurt him when all he'd done to that point was try to help her. Unfortunately her mood swings so radically it's hard to tell whether she's being genuine.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: An earnest desire to help a troubled youth lands Stratton in all sorts of trouble.
  • Psychotic Lover: Jody isn't his lover (though she doesn't seem opposed to the idea) but she certainly has the same impact on the plot as her insanity lands Stratton deeper and deeper in trouble.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Jody first tries to save Stratton from Buck, after he beats Stratton within an inch of his life, and exonerates him after the fatal wreck by covering up his involvement in said wreck. She dies from injuries sustained in the crash before Stratton regains consciousness in the hospital.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Midge panics and takes off with her car after Ron is cut with Stratton's razor. Given how she'd been treated up to that point, it's probably the best thing she's ever done for herself, however it leaves Stratton at the mercy of Ron and Buck, and forced to take them to Tijuana himself.
  • Sexophone: Played throughout the movie.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The Played for Drama scene of Jody returning to David's house even after he sent her away is hard to take seriously when the Looney Tunes short "Canned Feud" is playing (loudly) in the background on a TV.
  • Straw Nihilist: Jody's argument for why her psychotic behavior is okay: "They'll drop the bomb tomorrow, so why worry?" It turns out she got it from her faux-losopher friend, Ron.
  • Villain Protagonist: "Troubled" bad girl Jody.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Psychopathic Buck is willing to hit everybody, but his willingness to assault Jody is what pushes Stratton to risk his life protecting her.