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Featured DVD Review: Streetwalkin'

August 2nd, 2011

Streetwalkin' - Buy from Amazon

Streetwalkin' was only the second movie role for Melissa Leo, who recently won an Oscar for The Fighter and was nominated for Frozen River. Obviously the film is being released on DVD now to take advantage of her increased fame, but is this a cheap cash grab? Or does this film deserve to be exposed to a wider audience?

The Movie

Melissa Leo stars as Cookie, who lives with her brother, Tim, at home in a bad situation. Her mother is an alcoholic and her step-father is abusive so she she and her brother runaway to New York. (Or more accurately, they didn't runaway from home, they were thrown out of the house.) It isn't long after they arrive at the bus terminal that she's approached by Duke, who sensing her desperation, recruits her to be one of his prostitutes.

At first Cookie's situation seems quite good, given her circumstances, but when Duke shows his violent side and beats up Cookie's roommate, Heather (Deborah Offner), she decides she has to leave. Not leave the business, just find a new pimp. That new pimp is Leon, who has been looking for an excuse to take on Duke. But while he gets his wish, with someone like Duke, the night is going to end in violence.

Roger Corman made a lot of exploitation films, most of them were little more than excuses to show nudity and violence. However, this one rises above the ranks. Not only is the writing superior to most, with real characters and compelling situations, but the acting is far above the norm. Melissa Leo is the biggest name now, but the film also has Julie Newmar, Khandi Alexander, Greg Germann, and others. For an exploitation flick, this cast is incredible. The action scenes are well done, especially considering the budgetary and time constraints. That's kind of a backhanded compliment, but it does have a lot more authenticity than other films of the genre. It goes for realism and not over-the-top action.

The Extras

The only extra on the DVD is an audio commentary track with Joan Freeman and Robert Alden, who are the writer / director and the co-writer / producer. The track is not very energetic, but there's a good amount of information.

The Verdict

Streetwalkin' is a surprisingly good movie. Most of Roger Corman's films that are good tend to be good "for a B-movie". This is just good, low-budget, but good. The DVD isn't overloaded with extras, but the audio commentary is worth checking out and lifts the overall value to a purchase rather than just a rental.

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