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Gabbard, K. (1994). Bad Girls. Psychoanal. Rev., 81(4):763-766.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Review, 81(4):763-766

Bad Girls

Krin Gabbard

In development, Bad Girls must have seemed like a sure thing. The money men at 20th Century Fox were probably told, “Thelma and Louise times two plus Unforgiven.” Like Clint Eastwood's Oscar-winning Unforgiven, Bad Girls is set in motion by violence against a prostitute in the Old West. And Bad Girls doubles at least part of the concept behind Thelma and Louise by putting guns into the hands of four instead of two beautiful women. Bad Girlfs director Jonathan Kaplan and writers Ken Friedman and Yolande Finch have also appropriated Thelma and Louise's argument that women must break the law when it is stacked against them, but the filmmakers have tacked on a more traditional upbeat ending. In some ways, however, Bad Girls has gone beyond Thelma and Louise by suggesting that at least one of the gun-bearing women may be a lesbian, and unlike a rash of recent films like Basic Instinct, Bad Girls does not portray her as a man-killing sociopadi. The film is also intriguing for the questions it raises about psychoanalyti-cally derived theories of cinema spectatorship.

Bad Girls begins upstairs in a saloon where Anita (Mary Stuart Mas-terson) awaits “The Colonel.” As we later discover, Anita has not let a man kiss her since the death of her husband three years earlier, even diough she is now employed as a prostitute. Demanding that she give him a birthday kiss, the drunken Colonel chases Anita to the balcony, where he strikes her in full view of the saloon below. Perhaps because the Colonel's blow has been magnified to disturbing proportions on the soundtrack, it attracts the attention of Cody (Madeline Stowe), who has been downstairs enjoying a game of poker with several cowboys. Cody stands up and threatens the violent patron with death if he continues manhandling Anita. When the man drunkenly fires two shots in her direction, Cody unflinchingly dispatches him with a single bullet. The scene changes to a lynch mob led by a fire-and-brimstone preacher who is more upset that Cody is a prostitute than that she is a killer. While Cody awaits death first stoically and then smirkingly, the preacher declares that she has a scorpion between her legs.

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