Like the documentary "Double Dare", which looked at stuntwomen in movies, "Lipstick and Dynamite" looks at women doing very well in what used to be considered a male-dominated area - wrestling. Only, these aren't the latest ladies of wrestling - at least by a few decades. The women interviewed for "Lipstick and Dynamite" are some of the first women wrestlers - the ones that did it at fairs and other tournaments in the 50's.
The women tell stories of being in abusive relationships and growing up in tough households, with wrestling able to not only train them to protect themselves, but also get them out of the town/situation they were in. Director Ruth Leitman fills the film with interviews done with the several women profiled, who have a reunion-of-sorts at one point in the picture. Archival footage also provides a nice visual look at some of the matches and some of their other gigs, such as appearing on game shows.
The women, despite being in their 60's and older, still seem awfully tough, and talk seemingly as tough as they probably did when they were younger. The oddity about the film is that the picture mainly focuses on the women's various tales (one even wrestled bears and gators.) While interesting, I was surprised that the film never really explores the subject from a wider perspective - what kind of impact did women breaking into a male sport have? "Lipstick" never really explores this important angle very much. We hear that some states banned female wrestling, but we don't hear a great deal about the ban or the fight to get it lifted.
Overall, "Lipstick" is pretty entertaining and the interviews are basically interesting, but the fact that the film never offers more insight about the start of the female wrestling phenomenon makes the film seem to lack a bit of depth.
VIDEO: Koch Lorber Films presents "Lipstick and Dynamite" in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Understandably, the presentation quality does vary, as the film does integrate some archive footage. Sharpness and detail throughout the new interview footage is pretty fine, as images mostly appeared crisp and well-defined. While the archive footage didn't appear as sharp, it still often looked fairly good, considering.
The archive footage is mostly in good shape, although occasional specks and other signs of wear are present. No pixelation, edge enhancement or shimmering was seen during the film. Colors appeared natural, with fine saturation and no smearing.
SOUND: The stereo soundtrack is fine "documentary audio", delivering the interviews crisply and clearly.
EXTRAS: Interviews, 7 deleted scenes, director's commentary, photo gallery, trailer, IFC "At the Angelika" segment, Atlanta Q & A, Tribeca Q & A, NYC premiere footage and Chasing Moolah.
Final Thoughts: "Lipstick and Dynamite" offers some interesting tales about what these women went through, but I would have liked if maybe the film took a look at the bigger picture. Koch provides a very fine DVD, with good audio/video quality and a nice helping of supplements. Fans should seek out a purchase, while others interested should certainly try a rental.