Switzerland | 1973
Directed by Erwin C. Dietrich
Karin Heske
Elisabeth Felchner
Renate Kasche
| 96 Minutes | Not Rated
Format: DVD(R1 - NTSC)
Cheezy Flicks
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Review by
Brian Lindsey

A Swiss production made with mostly West German talent, Frauleins in Uniform is a rather odd example of the notorious "Nazisploitation" subgenre — odd in that it's uncharacteristically genteel. Oh, there's plenty of sex and nudity on display, rest assured on that point. But if you're expecting sadistic torture or grisly inhuman experiments along with the tits, bums and bush, I suggest looking to the ones made in Italy.
    Perhaps this movie belongs to a hitherto undefined sub-subgenre... Wehrmachtsploitation. That's because the usual heavies of Nazisploitation pics — you know, honest-to-God Nazis — are practically nonexistent. There's the occasional "Heil Hitler" and reference to one's duty to the führer, but SS blackshirts and Gestapo thugs in leather trenchcoats barely make an appearance. Neither a concentration camp or a Himmler-sanctioned bordello ever figures in the plot; I don't think the word "Jew" is uttered even once. The sadomasochistic nastiness so common to your typical Nazisploitation film is entirely missing here. Instead we're given a surprisingly lengthy battle scene pitting defending German infantry against attacking Russian armor. At times the movie almost plays like a nutty mash-up of the Schoolgirl Report series and Cross of Iron!
    Rather than prisoners forced into sex slavery or sluts turning tricks for the SS, these frisky young frauleins are (mostly) patriotic volunteers for the women's auxiliary of the German army and air force.* Once deemed physically fit and given a bit of training they'll be attached to military units behind the front lines, crewing antiaircraft guns or working in communications centers. Apparently not a few of the girls have joined up merely to get closer to the opposite sex, since all the eligible (i.e., doable) men have already been called up for military service. Perhaps that's why kindly Dr. Kuhn (Carl M๖hner) isn't very enthusiastic about giving the ladies their physical exams — that and his overall weariness of the war. With two daughters of his own in the same age group, Kuhn sympathetically provides waivers to any of the "volunteers" who for whatever reason really don't want to go. But someone reports this laxity to higher authorities, and soon the doctor is paid an unexpected visit by the Gestapo. Kuhn is informed that because he has exempted too many girls from service, he's being immediately assigned to a combat unit on the Russian Front. His daughters, too, are now required to serve the Fatherland — and they will pass their physicals.
    Siblings Marga (Elisabeth Felchner) and Eva (Karin Heske) Kuhn are shipped off along with a group of other young women, their passenger train shot up by strafing Allied aircraft along the way. (You almost never see German civilians being machine-gunned like this in American movies.) They finally arrive at the training camp, where many of the girls waste little time getting into the male soldiers' pants — or even each other's — during exercises. Here the film settles into its peculiarly schizophrenic rhythms, switching randomly from bawdy sex comedy to soap opera melodrama to military action all at the drop of a hat. The Kuhn girls befriend Ulrike (Renate Kasche), who is secretly dying from leukemia and just wants to get laid and fall in love while she still can. One of the Kuhn sisters has a tragic romance with a Grizzly Adams-ish partisan hiding out in the nearby woods, while the other is sexually assaulted during an air raid and goes AWOL. Some of the more gung-ho girls get the bright idea to request a transfer to the Eastern Front, where they can better serve Germany (and horny German GIs). Dr. Kuhn now reappears, leading an infantry unit on the front lines. In a clumsily staged — not to mention ridiculous — battle scene (parts of which were later recycled in 1977's SS Girls), Kuhn's men repel a Soviet tank attack with mostly rifle and machine gun fire... which in reality would be like throwing marshmallows at an oncoming Mack truck. (Gotta give 'em props for using genuine WWII-era T-34 tanks, though.) Then Kuhn learns that a group of female Wehrmacht auxiliaries has been cut off and surrounded by the Russians in a nearby town. (Are his daughters among them?) Assembling a volunteer raiding party, Kuhn leads his troops in an assault on the town to rescue them... resulting in the admittedly rare spectacle of watching a platoon of women run buck-naked through an artillery barrage. (And not one of 'em is a natural blonde.)
    While eschewing the "torture porn" element so common to Nazisploitation, producer/director Erwin C. Dietrich (a frequent collaborator with Jess Franco in the 1970s) certainly doesn't skimp on the T&A. Lesbian trysts, skinny-dipping, a striptease act, the obligatory group shower scene... The film is a veritable catalog of familiar sexploitation tropes. Much of the dubbed dialog is amusingly awful, too, so there are chuckles to had along with the acres of female skin.
* One of the film's alternate English-language titles, She-Devils of the SS, makes absolutely no sense. None of the girls is a member of the Schutzstaffel, nor are they in any particular respect "she-devils".
Up until now I've always avoided DVDs released by Cheezy Flicks — a "gray" market/bootleg outfit — because of their reputation for crummy fullscreen transfers culled from inferior VHS tape sources. But when I heard that Frauleins in Uniform was a notable exception I decided to check it out... and was very pleasantly surprised. The film is not only presented in its correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio but is anamorphic to boot! Damage to the source print is minimal and colors are quite vivid, although scenes tend to vary in sharpness and moir้ effect is occasionally noticeable. The dubbed English audio track is fairly strong so all the goofy dialog comes through clean and clear, marred only by a bit of low background hiss at times. (I'm not certain whether the movie is in the public domain or this is simply a flagrantly unauthorized release, but Cheezy has added newly-created text to the opening credits: "Cheezy Flicks Presents".) A couple of extras are even tossed in: five minutes of ancient drive-in concession stand ads (in severely ragged condition) and a reel of battered trailers for other Cheezy offerings. 5/26/12