Vintage women-in-prison films can be dramatic, exploitive, revolutionary, voyeuristic, campy, sexy and/or sexist, and director Steve Balderson's new movie, Stuck!, attempts to be all of these things at once. But with a threadbare plot and a very low budget, Stuck! is really more of a loving homage than biting satire. The black-&-white film is all about the colorful, outsized actors who take over the fictional prison (and ultimately the movie), including Susan Traylor, Mink Stole, Pleasant Gehman (pictured), Go-Go's guitarist Jane Wiedlin, and the aptly named Starina Johnson, who stars as the innocent good girl who's wrongly convicted of murder and sent up the river, where she tries to fit in with her jaded, bad-girl cell mates. There are, of course, the requisite titillating women-in-prison archetypes -- soft-core rape scenes and the occasional flashing of Gehman's impressive breasts and thighs (this is apparently one of those lockups where fishnets and high heels are permitted) -- but the most interesting moments occur when Stuck! steps away from genre convention, such as the recurring interludes where Karen Black (portraying an increasingly guilt-ridden juror) is mesmerized by a music box and a dream sequence in which the prisoners wear elegant gowns and dance with one another in an old ballroom. Tonight's L.A. premiere (with the cast in attendance) benefits the American Cinematheque.
Wed., Feb. 3, 7:30 p.m., 2010