50 Years Ago Today…
The Mini-Skirt Mob opened starring Diane McBain as a leader of a gang of motorcycle mamas described as “hog straddling female animals on the prowl.” A baby doll blonde whose big screen career began during the days of Sandra Dee, Tuesday Weld, Carol Lynley, Connie Stevens, and Yvette Mimieux, Diane McBain immediately stood out from the pack. While some of them were typed as the viriginal ingenue or pristine girl next door, Diane excelled as the bad girl from a man-eating slut in Claudelle Inglish, to a boozy rich bitch in Parrish, to a uppity socialite in Mary, Mary, to a haughty Easterner in A Distant Trumpet, and not surprisingly Diane rarely got her man. Though some of her contemporaries complained and could not break free of the good girl roles, Diane wished she could play one. She said in my book Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema, “These roles typed me almost forever as the bad girl. I wanted to play the ingenue. I could never understand why everyone wanted to play the bitch. Because when you go into society people view you as they see you on the screen. It’s horrible to be thought of as this messy, horrible person when you’re not!”
Though Diane McBain would seem to be perfectly cast as a beauty queen, she was excellent as the vicious leader of The Mini-Skirt Mob, the ultimate sixties drive-in movie. It was directed by Maury Dexter and was an exciting variation on the typical biker films released in the late sixties. It was beautifully shot on location in the Arizona desert by cinematographer Arch R. Dalzell and features a winning musical score by Les Baxter. Spurned by her former boyfriend (Ross Hagen), McBain seeks revenge against him and his new bride (Sherry Jackson). She enlists her fellow cyclists to make life hell for the newlyweds. Their idyllic honeymoon is turned into a wild, beer-swilling melee after The Mini-Skirts crash it. The brawl ends with a wild motorcycle chase with Rondell swerving off a cliff. Later the gang causes the death of McCormack who, tiring of McBain’s sadistic ruthlessness tries to help the newlyweds escape. The film climaxes with McBain and Slate catching up with the fleeing couple. While Slate tries to run down Hagen, the women scuffle. McBain ends up hanging over the side of a cliff with one hand held by Jackson. As Hagen goes to get help from the police, Jackson delivers her own brand of justice and lets McBain fall to her death.
Diane McBain recalled:
“I wasn’t an obvious choice to play this part. I think I was just the person with the recognizable name. That’s what the producers were looking for. After I agreed to do this movie I went out and learned how to ride a motorcycle. A big motorcycle. When I arrived on the set they gave us these tiny scooters. It was the silliest bike you ever saw. I thought it was ridiculous to have this Mini-Skirt Mob on these small bikes. I knew then I was in trouble.”
“What attracted me to do this film was the role of Shayne. I thought it would be fun to play such a sadistic killer because women don’t usually get to play these sort of roles. The part also required me to do my own stunts. I rode my own motorcycle. I actually hung off the mountain attached to a cable. And I did the fight scenes with Sherry. We had been roommates at one time so we were fairly friendly. We had no problems doing those scenes. Actually, all the actors got along nicely which was great because we shot it on location. Patty McCormack was very nice. Jeremy Slate was friendly and professional with me but we didn’t get close or anything. He often plays the tough guy because he has those distinct features. Harry Dean Stanton was such a character, very intense with a spark in his eye. It always looked like he was keeping some funny little secret.”