Running Time: 80 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
Format: Full Screen
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0
Languages: English
Subtitles: None
Region: 0 (All Regions)
MSRP: $26.98 (OOP)

Own It!
Two Undercover Angels (1973)

Made with only slightly less intentional camp than Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Jess Franco's Two Undercover Angels is bound to entertain those who giggle every time Mike Meyers blurts "smashing baby!" This late '60s crime romp contains plenty of swingin' socialites and the occasional caged go-go dancer for those who crave that sort of thing; viewers more accustomed to faster pacing and dialogue that rambles less may find themselves nodding off before the plot makes a few strides.

Regina (Rosanna Yanni) and Diana (Janine Reynaud) are private investigators who invite themselves into a missing persons case when they recognize that the girls who have vanished are also the subjects of the works of a certain artist. The artist has fashioned a "Gallery of Horrors" that depicts the women dying in particularly violent ways, but no one has yet connected the missing girls with the artist, Klaus Tiller (Adrian Hoven). Since these Angels are without a Charlie, they finance their investigation by breaking into the house of one of the missing girls' boyfriends, where Diana coerces some cash out of him at the point of a flashlight. When faced with plot points like these, it's best to just sit back and let it wash over you. Resistance will only make it worse.

The investigation brings the Angels in contact with a perverted old art dealer, an Italian playboy named Vittorio Freda (Manolo Otero), a lesbian lounge lizard who hits on Diana, two police inspectors, and the killer himself -- although not necessarily in that order. In one scene, the girls decide that Freda might be hired to spy on them, and so they decide to discover for whom he works by holding him down and pouring gin into his gullet with a funnel. Most of the time, being plied with liquor by two beautiful women doesn't count as torture, but such is the warped logic of this little movie.

The best forum for Two Undercover Angels is probably in the background at a party -- one might find the mildly clever dialogue amusing for a few minutes, but it also would be nice to have the excuse to get up and go talk to someone when those minutes are up. The Angels tend to wilt whenever a real threat arises, so don't expect it to score many points with the ladies, however prominent the heroines. Not one of Jess Franco's finer moments, but when you have a filmography of over 170 movies spanning four decades, you're allowed a few missteps.

A hideous pan-and-scan transfer results in some pretty fuzzy master shots, although the action tends to be centered and the cropping isn't too annoying. It's kind of suprising that Anchor Bay is responsible for such an ugly DVD presentation, but I suspect this was the only version of the film they were able to license. Maybe someday we'll get a widescreen version of Two Undercover Angels, but until then this will have to do. At least the original print is relatively unmarred, with some light speckling and vibrant color. The sound comes through in Dolby 2.0, although with the off-sync dubbing (the actors originally spoke Italian) and muffled soundtrack, I wonder how much that really matters.

The only extra available on the disc is a "theatrical trailer," which seems less like a trailer and more like a collection of clips that Anchor Bay cobbled together in lieu of one. In any case, the trailer collects some of the more amusing moments of the film and presents a few flashes of the raciest go-go dancer's performance. I can't imagine that a "real" trailer would have been much different.

Chris Holland, 1/13/2002