So, if I were to tell you that there was an action flick released by AIP in 1976 about a female undercover narcotics cop named Jackie Parker who was probably more interested in jet-setting around the globe and getting laid than she was in actually doing her job, but that she kicked ass and took names when she did, in fact, do said job, and by the end of the movie she ends up taking down a huge heroin-smuggling ring following an epic (and well-choreographed) chase scene involving her finding, and subsequently taking off in, a fucking dune buggy she just happens to come across parked, with the keys in it, along a city street in Seattle — and that this film’s main “baddie” is played with relish by the incomparable Cesare Danova, and his head henchman is portrayed by a young William Smith, and that the title character’s main love interest is none other than B. J. McKay himself, Greg Evigan, and that he gets killed with a goddamn harpoon at the conclusion of the only love (okay, sex) scene on offer here — well, you’d probably think this would be something worth seeing, wouldn’t you?
Especially since it would probably feature a good number scenes of our bad-ass heroine baring her ample assets, spouting off one-liners rather than actual dialogue, and generally doing everything you want a leading lady to do in one of these things.
It would be especially cool if the movie in question starred Pam Grier, right? I mean, roles like this are pretty much tailored specifically for her.
And that, friends, is where director Howard Avedis’ (working here under the curious pseudonym of Hikmet Avedis) Scorchy runs into problems, because it stars a well-past-her-prime (to the extent that she ever had such a thing) Connie Stevens instead. And that’s a crying shame.
It’s not that this movie doesn’t “work,” per se. It sorta does. But it coulda/woulda/shoulda worked so much better. The recap I gave at the outset really does sum things up plot-wise pretty well, and with the right actress at the top of the bill, this definitely had the potential to be, at the very least, something of a minor classic. But Stevens just can’t carry her (surgically enhanced above the waist) weight, and as a result, her squeaky voice, trying-too-hard air of wanna-be “coolness,” and thoroughly unconvincing “horny, but still hard-ass” persona really saddle Scorchy with a pretty heavy anchor around its celluloid neck. And instead of enjoying what we’ve got, we end up feeling sorta bummed out about what we might have been able to have instead.
Quite clearly, this is a project that was designed from the outset with someone else in mind, and Stevens came aboard when that “someone else” proved unavailable, unwilling, or just too expensive. I keep bringing up Grier, and why not? Every single scene, ever line, every action in here is custom-made for someone of her talents. But she’s not around. And Stevens, try as she might, just can’t fill the shoes (and dresses, and what have you) that Pam would have positively owned from the word “go” here.
Which isn’t to say she doesn’t try her best, I suppose — it’s just that her best is nowhere near good enough.
Still, what the hell — Scorchy is still worth a look, even if it’s just one look, and since it’s been issued fairly recently on DVD from Shout! Factory as part of their two-disc “4 Action-Packed Movie Marathon Volume Two” bargain-priced collection, you can now do just that. The remastered full frame transfer looks reasonably sharp and nice, the mono soundtrack serves its purpose just fine, and all in all it’s probably a better-quality release than fans of this movie — assuming such folks do, in fact, actually exist — could ever have hoped for. But it would still look and sound and just plain be a whole lot better with Pam Grier , and that’s a stumbling block that’s just too large for this modest, but competent, effort to ever overcome.