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Friday, April 5, 2013

'Wonder Woman:' Wonderful Sexist '70s Camp

Warner Archive's recent DVD release of the 1974 pre-Lynda Carter era made for TV movie "Wonder Woman" is the latest example of the "unreal" awesomeness of Archive. This rare gem stars Cathy Lee Crosby as the titular super heroine and Ricardo "KHAN!!!" Montalban as the big bad in a project from "Star Trek" producer/writer John D.F. Black.

"Wonder Woman" is DC comics super heroine Diana, who is an Amazon from the highly physically, mentally, and spiritually evolved all-female civilization on Paradise (as opposed to Fantasy) Island. In the 1974 incarnation, Diana volunteers to come to the outside world to improve our existence.

Similar to the better-known mid-70s Carter "Wonder Woman" series, Diana becomes the assistant to spy chief Steve Trevor.

The plot of the 1974 movie revolves around Diana attempting to locate and retrieve a set of books that identifies the true identities of undercover agents who work under Trevor. She must accomplish this before the deadline by which Trevor must pay a $15 million ransom for the tomes.

Numerous dated cheesy elements aside, the story is presented well and Crosby does a great job even if she takes more of a "Charlie's Angels" than super heroine approach to her performance. Crosby does have an invisible plane but lacks most of the other "toys" that helped make Carter's series fun.

The movie additionally has a great deal of unintentional humor that reflects very poorly on the early days of the feminist movement. Some of these segments would make a hilarious sexual harassment training video.

A tamer aspect of this sexism depicted Diana having to sit at her desk and listen in on the intercom while Trevor briefed his all-male team of agents on the mission.

A less tame aspect of the mistreatment of Diana revolved around an agent shamelessly hitting on her. The more cringe-worthy moments involved the agent giving Diana a small plant with a promise of better things to come and subsequently kissing his fingertip and then pressing it to Diana's forehead.

The good campy fun throughout the film additionally was ripe for heckling.

My viewing companion seemed to enjoy my exclaiming "That's Incredible!" (Google it millenials) whenever the highly athletic Crosby performed a gymnastic stunt. Other high (or low) lights included my referring to "rich Corinthian leather" when Montalban was shown in a sedan (another Googleable reference) and putting the words "well, you've been riding my ass all day" in the mouth of the head henchman when he and his evil Amazon companion saw another character on a burro.

My friend and I also enjoyed alternatively shouting "tarantula" and "snake" during a scene in which the bad guys planted a box in Diana's hotel room. (You will need to watch the DVD to see which of us was correct.)

Even if Wonder Woman had ensnared me in her magic lasso of truth, I would say that the 1974 "Wonder Woman" movie would appeal to super hero fans and anyone who likes either well-done '70s cheese or appropriately paced mid-budget action-adventure films.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Wonder Woman" is encouraged to email me.