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MIO Movie Reviews: The Oklahoma City Dolls

the oklahoma city dolls

There are few things more judiciously trying in the workplace than being a healthy non-smoker who is forced to toil alongside with dirty, filthy smokers.

Forget the stench that always seems to envelop their being and instead dwell, quite bitterly, on the fact that they get more breaks than you—smokers get a good five-to-ten minute break every hour on the hour to puff on a nick-stick while you, the one who has treated their body as a temple, remain stuck behind the desk, bean-counting without any equivalent relief straight until lunch. It’s unfair, it’s uncouth and it’s understandable why every year there’s more and more workplace shootings.

But, really, what are you gonna do about? Outside of taking up smoking yourself, I’m willing to guess absolutely nothing. Too bad you don’t have an inspirational figure like Sally Jo Purkey working alongside you.

A wholly fictional account of the true story of a ladies’ football team based out of OKC in the late 70s, the 1981 made-for-TV film The Oklahoma City Dolls – it wasn't technically filmed in OKC but who really cares – tells the triumphant tale of the tragically named Purkey, a feminist trailblazer who, after seeing the boys play football on the company dime, organized a women’s football team, teaching the immediate Metro a thing or two about the undeniable power of women who are roaring in numbers too big to ignore.

If only it had actually happened like that. But I digress…

The delightfully spunky Susan Blakely is the aforementioned Sally Jo Purkey, a waifish redneck exuding a hot and sweaty Sandy Duncan-esque sexuality that is made all the more palpable by her unrelenting unwillingness to take guff from her slovenly male co-workers. She and her fellow female laborers toil day-in, day-out for the Homa City Valve Company, slapping gloopy green grease on valves, working twice as hard for half the pay. They work hard for the money. So hard for the money.

Seems that the women have to pick up the men’s slack because while these broads are wasting away on the assembly line, those dudes are out on the football field playing company-sanctioned games of pigskin grab-ass. When a government official representing Affirmative Action (CALM DOWN REPUBLICANS!) gets wind of this bullshit, he puts the empowering idea in Sally Jo’s head that she has the will to change the discriminatory actions being practiced by starting her own football team.

Now if this was a theatrical film, the flick would’ve become a raunchy sex comedy wherein the audience would’ve been shown plenty of locker room shower scenes featuring full-on hair-pie, but, this being a TV Movie of the Week, we’re instead treated to highly-sanitized training sequences wherein local drunk Eddie (Green Acres) Albert coaches this ragtag crew by throwing footballs at their heads while being interspersed with  Diet Coke first-wave feminist rhetoric that is toned down enough so dad wouldn’t change the channel.

okc dolls poster

While the idea, today, of a women’s football team seems like a great self-esteem building afternoon out with the fam, apparently Oklahoma City in 1981 wasn’t ready for it and goes positively ape-shit! Concerned mothers protest, scummy shift leaders leave dead mice in lunches and redneck husbands who say things like “Women’s Lib is alright with me as long as I get fed!” become downright abusive and (off-screen) give their lady-loves a straight-up black-eye. Really, 1981 OKC? Really?

Even Sally Jo’s boss, J.D. Hines (the rotund David Huddleston), is doing everything possible to make her quit as well, from docking pay to sabotaging the line, even if it means risking the billion dollar government contract his company is up for. It really means that much to him that the purity of the gridiron isn’t sullied by unholy menses-ensconced succubae that only exist to drain him of his religious freedoms.

(On a positive note, this character reminds me of my old boss at the Penn Square movie theater who once told me the best thing in life is to hang out in Bricktown with a drink in your hand while grooving to the tunes of Harvey and the Wallbangers. I’d love to write a TV movie about him.)

Come to think of it, the only positive male figure in The Oklahoma City Dolls is Sally Jo’s boyfriend Wayne Doak (didn’t he just run for office or something?), essayed by country music legend slash feminist ally Waylon Jennings, completely clad in a beautiful Western-style leisure suit that is half-sweatstains, half-Jack Daniels dribble. I like to think that foreplay between them is downing a sixer of Stroh’s while massaging each other’s thatchy nethers with cooling Gold Bond ointment.

oklahoma city dolls

The Dolls’ big game finally comes in the form of a scrimmage with the Minneapolis Maids, made up of the beefiest, burliest, mannish ladies to ever grace either the football field or my marriage bed. Seriously, at least four of those line-backers could’ve been my ex-wife and that kind of made the final fifteen minutes a little hard to watch, what with all the tears of regret streaming down my face and all.

It’s before this game that Hines, looking like he’s had a change of heart regarding the usefulness of womenfolk, gives Sally Jo a wonderfully proto-Pink Pony faux-pology that includes the line “You Women’s Libbers types are always asking that everybody see things your way, and that’s alright I guess, but you gotta walk a mile in my shoes too!”

Forgive him if he abhors your precious feelings, I suppose.

The Oklahoma City Dolls is an entertainingly fluffy touchdown set against the blue skies, palm trees and rocky foothills of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Hollywood, California, depicting a long-forgotten time in our state’s history where trailer parks were totes urban cowboy chic, every little boy dressed like a dime-store cowboy and even the most basic of women’s rights are a good 25 years behind.

Two out of three ain't bad, I guess.

The Oklahoma City Dolls is available from

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