By Kristy McCaffrey
As we welcome the New Year and the hopes for a great 2015, I find myself...exhausted. All the festivities and traveling and gift-giving—while fun—demand down-time. When I need to refill the creative coffers, I turn to music and movies. I thought I’d share one of my favorite western movie guilty pleasures: Bad Girls.
Released in 2005 and starring Madeleine Stowe, Mary Stuart Masterson, Andie MacDowell and Drew Barrymore, what it lacks in believability it makes up for in decent acting and an inspiring score. It’s also an Old West chick-flick, and there’s not too many of those (The Quick and the Dead also comes to mind, but that’s for another post).
The four girls are fallen women, each for different reasons. Cody Zamora (Stowe) is the leader and the most hardened. She was found by a man named Frank Jarrett (Robert Loggia) when she was 14-years-old, and rode for many years among his gang. More on this later. Anita Crown (Masterson) lost her husband to cholera on the Oregon Trail, and while she turns tricks at the local saloon, she refuses to kiss a man on the mouth out of respect to said husband. Eileen Spenser (MacDowell) presents herself as a Southern Belle from New Orleans, but in reality she grew up poor on a grub ranch in East Texas. And Lilly Laronette (Barrymore) was the daughter of a prominent trick rider; when he died, it fell to her to settle his debts.
A scuffle in a saloon results in Cody shooting a Colonel, and the man’s wife sets Pinkerton detectives on her trail. The girls escape town and head to Agua Dulce, Texas to claim $12,000 Cody has stashed at a bank. Anita has a homesteader’s claim for the Oregon Territory, and they plan to take the money and begin fresh.
The bank is overrun by Kid Jarrett’s gang—the very gang that Cody was involved with and abandoned one night long ago—and this leads to a series of retaliations between Kid and Cody that drive the remainder of the tale. There’s also a love interest for Cody—Josh McCoy (Dermot Mulroney)—a man who looks out for her, but, as we soon learn, has an agenda of his own that involves her connection to the Jarrett’s.
The silliness of a few scenes—the girls swimming buck naked in a creek or the fact that Lilly maintains a tart tongue and gorgeous hair while being abused by Kid’s gang—are balanced by Cody’s quiet stoicism to make a better life for herself, and Anita’s disillusionment that women had very little independence without the support of a man. The story doesn’t have a standard happily-ever-after, but each of the women honor one truth: to keep moving forward toward their best self.
Bad Girls is available on iTunes if you’d like to check it out.
Happy New Year!!