Friday, December 07, 2012

LITTLE CIGARS (1973) - Chris Christenberry

Billy Curtis as "Slick Bender"
Whenever you see the words "A.I.P." and "Samuel Z. Arkoff" at the head of '70s picture, there's a good chance you're going to have a swell but not so intellectual 90 minutes of celluloid fun. Such is the case with Little Cigars.

Former Playboy model Angel Tompkins plays Cleo, a conniving blonde who hooks up with a group of felonious sideshow midgets ("Don't call us dwarves!"). They use their song and dance act as cover for pickpocketing sprees, petty thefts. Cleo eventually shacks up with the leader of the group, Slick (Billy Curtis of High Plains Drifter and Wizard of Oz), and convinces him to think bigger. Safes, banks, laundry factories, etc.

But Slick is smart, in case the name didn't tip you off. He suspects Cleo's ambitions will only bring trouble. But don't you just know it, he's also in love. What's a small-timer with a big heart to do?

Curtis is the one to watch in this. His line readings and world weary gang leadership remind me of a smaller William Holden, the Cigars being his ragtag Wild Bunch. Despite the cutesy title, Cigars isn't all played for laughs. There's some actual drama/romance/suspense in here, despite what the little person lineup below might suggest.

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