Lady Cocoa (1975)

Rating: B-

Dir: Matt Cimber
Star: Lola Falana, Gene Washington, Alex Dreier, Millie Perkins
a.k.a. Pop Goes the Weasel

Cocoa (Falana) gets a 24-hour pass out of jail to testify against her former boyfriend. Two cops (Washington and Dreier) have to keep her alive for the night; needless to say, the boyfriend has a different opinion, and sends his minions to the Lake Tahoe casino where they’re holed up. And Cocoa doesn’t exactly help: fed-up with staying in her room, she starts demanding to buy dresses, be taken to dinner, etc. – or else she’ll pull her co-operation. And, boy, if whining was an Olympic sport, Cocoa would be a gold medallist.

A fairly smart script by George Theakos helps keep things moving; while I can’t say the twists surprised us, our predictions were mostly “It’d be kinda cool if…”, which we can live with. The performances are also solid: Dreier is very effective as the senior officer, while Washington plays a straight-shooting ghetto cop, uncertain what he’s doing on this case. Falana, a former Vegas act who appeared in The Burning Cross, alongside Richard Burton and O.J.Simpson (!), does well enough, despite some immensely irritating facets to her character; still, any female blaxploitation character who quotes philosophy can only be welcomed.

The small budget is often painfully obvious, and it’s amusing to note that in Lake Tahoe, you can stage a gunfight, and a car chase that goes through a casino and ends in the water, without the local cops apparently showing any interest. I could also have done without the soundtrack which is, I kid you not, a theme and variations on Pop Goes The Weasel [the lounge version, complete with frantic frugging by certain extras, was a source of much amusement] – it does at least explain the alternate title. All told, surprisingly entertaining nonsense.