Kitten with a Whip is a 1964 crime drama with an exploitative, juvenile delinquent overlay. Released through Universal, the film starred John Forsythe and newcomer Ann-Margret, and featured Peter Brown, Patricia Barry and Richard Anderson.
The film was made to publicize Ann-Margret as a serious actress. Her previous films, Viva Las Vegas and Bye Bye Birdie, were of the musical film genre and did little to highlight the actress's dramatic skills. Ann-Margret's management signed her to several different films at this time, each with a top Hollywood studio, and the actress was not consulted on the projects they chose for her. In interviews, she made the best of the situation, claiming she was hoping to distance herself from her "new Marilyn Monroe" image.
The wife of politician David Stratton (John Forsythe) is away in San Francisco, visiting relatives there. Stratton comes home one night but not to an empty house—a young woman, Jody (Ann-Margret), is waiting inside.
Jody tells him a tale of woe, so David offers to help. But the truth is, she has just busted out of a juvenile detention home, where she stabbed a matron and started a fire. And she is far from alone, because two young men suddenly materialize to torment David, who is afraid of a public scandal that could end his career. If he tries to get away and contact the cops, Jody threatens to accuse David of rape. The young men and Jody enjoy a wild party, but also begin to quarrel until one is cut with a razor. They drive across the Mexico border, taking David along.
Jody and David elude them and end up in a Tijuana motel. When the punks return, a chase occurs and their car crashes, killing both of the young men. Jody, too, ends up at death's door, but absolves David of any blame before dying. David is seriously injured in the accident and is hospitalized as the movie comes to an end.
The lead role was originally offered to Brigitte Bardot but she turned it down.In 1994, Kitten With a Whip was aired as an episode of the comedy series Mystery Science Theater 3000, which riffed the film.
Kevin Killian's book of poetry "Action Kylie" features "Kitten With A Whipe," a poem inspired by the film and featuring its two main characters.
Drag performer Bob the Drag Queen was originally known as "Kittin Withawhip."