Vanity Fear

A Pretentious A**hole's Guide to B-Movie Bullsh*t

Filtering by Tag: Raquel Welch

B-MOVIE BULLSH*T - Part Twenty "The Hips, The Legs, The Torso!"

B-Movie Bullsh*t

Part Twenty




Michele, a Las Vegas dancer, watches helplessly as her friend Nikki is shot by Alan, her disturbed ex-husband. Alan blames Michele for the end of his marriage and makes it clear that he’s going to kill her too. She flees to Los Angeles to get away from him and quickly finds work in a club called The Losers, where she meets Joe, a handsome parking valet who instantly takes a liking to the gorgeous young woman. Alan soon learns where Michele is and hitchhikes to L.A.—killing an innocent motorist along the way. He confronts Michele and chases her through a zoo at night, but she’s saved by a pair of cops. Suffering from traumatic shock, she’s kept safe in a local hospital, but she decides to run and escapes through her window, only to find Alan waiting at the apartment she shares with Joe. Alan tells her he’s going to make her watch Joe die before killing her, but she manages to set him on fire before that happens. Even though Alan is dead, Michele still feels compelled to run and tries to get Joe to come with her to Mexico. He refuses and she drives off, only to turn back around and jump into his waiting arms.

There is a melancholy aspect to Raquel Welch’s career that I personally find very affecting. She was a performer whose appearance was so extraordinary that it transcended mere sex appeal to that of an onscreen joke—she was so gorgeous that she actually became a caricature of herself. But unlike other actresses who possessed this same quality—Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Anita Ekberg—she bristled at the notion of being portrayed as a living cartoon.

It didn’t help that her career really began to take off just as living cartoons were becoming passé in favour of more realistic representations. Jane Fonda could make the transition from Barbarella to They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, but she possessed a gift for dramatic acting Welch did not share. Welch’s gifts were best suited for light-hearted fare (her best performances can be found in such amusing trifles as Bedazzled, One Million Years B.C., The Last of Sheila and Richard Lester’s two Muskateer films), but her desire to be taken seriously compelled her to seek out roles that only served to prove why no one did.

A perfect example of this is found in Flareup—a film seemingly designed to exploit Welch’s sex goddess persona, but which turns out to actually be a misbegotten attempt to transform her into a dramatic leading lady. While the film’s memorable trailer plays up her character’s career as a go-go dancer, it fails to mention that it shows all of the dancing she does in the film. What we’re left with instead is a very poorly written thriller featuring a lot of unconvincing performances in a production as ambitious as any TV cop show from the era.

Writing about Sophia Loren and Gary Cooper, Pauline Kael once wondered why audiences were so invested in their acting abilities. Why wasn’t it enough that they simply looked better on camera than anyone else in the world? Watching Welch dance at the beginning of the film, it does make you wonder why this isn’t an achievement worth truly celebrating. The fact is that Welch isn’t even a particularly talented dancer, but she’s such a magnetic presence it’s impossible to take your eyes off of her. Then she stops dancing and starts emoting and all of the joy is sucked out of the picture.

It does make you wonder why one form of performance is considered so much more important than another. While it is true that Welch could have never played Jane Fonda’s role in Klute, it is equally true that Fonda—for all her big hair and abundant Barbarella curves—could never have held the screen as expertly as Welch does in Flareup’s one dance sequence. Both feats require skill and charisma, yet as far as everyone is concerned, Fonda’s is the only one that counts.

That said, even Fonda couldn’t have saved Flareup from self-destructing. Watching the film, it feels like it’s based on a first draft of a script that needed at least six more revisions before it was actually filmable. The structure is terrible. The first act is so rushed that we never get a sense of why we should give a fuck about anyone we’re watching, while the second meanders interminably with scenes between Michele and Joe that are so banal as to be ridiculous (until they get on the horse, where it’s just flat out ridiculous).

But the script’s biggest problem is Michele, whose impulsive need to run is a character trait screenwriter Rodgers had to establish to justify the idiotic decision she makes at the beginning of the final act. Rather than making her seem wounded and complex, he only succeeds in making her appear confused and flat-out stupid. Despite this, I was about to give him credit for a least staying true to the character he created during the film’s final scene, until he caved in and gave me the happy ending I’d been dreading.

The script is also unnecessarily homophobic, including not one but two gay characters whose sexuality ultimately adds nothing to the plot. I have no problem with a scene where Michele rejects another dancer’s advances if it were to pay off later in the movie, but it’s an utter non sequitur that goes nowhere. And apparently it wasn’t enough to justify the bartender's snitching on Michele to Alan by making him a junkie; he also has to be a gay junkie with a crush on his dealer. Again, I wouldn’t mind this if it had anything to do with the rest of the plot.

It doesn’t help that director James Neilson, who was 60 at the time, directs the film like a glorified TV episode—the only thing at all cinematic being the nudity seen in the first few minutes. I’ve long argued that the clearest sign of a filmmaker’s indifference isn’t when they ignore their script, but rather when they remain faithful to it even when logic dictates a change should have been made.

A good example of this comes in the scene where a police officer reads out the details from the killer’s file, including his year of birth—1945. The problem with this is that this establishes that Alan is 24, even though Luke Askew—the actor playing him—was 37 at the time and very much looked his age. It literally would have taken a second for Neilson to tell the actor playing the cop to say “1935” instead, but the fact that he didn’t proves how little he was invested in creating a credible product.

(I should also mention the hilarious onscreen error where—as the stuntman playing Alan flails around in flames—the nozzle of a fire extinguisher can clearly be seen rising up into the camera's frame. Apparently the shot was deemed too important to sacrifice even though it's impossible not to spot this blunder, no matter how hard you try.)

Sadly, the best thing about Flareup is the performance by James Stacey as Joe. I say this because—once again proving my thesis that the IMDb is the most depressing website on the Internet—it turns out the Emmy-nominated actor was forced to “retire” in the 90s when he served a six year prison sentence for molesting an 11 year-old girl. This shouldn’t affect the experience of watching him, but it really kinda does, especially since Joe is portrayed as the ultimate good guy.

Welch followed Flareup with Myra Breckinridge, another attempt at relevance that ended up being an even a bigger (albeit much more memorable) disaster. She had slightly better success with Hannie Caulder and Kansas City Bomber, but it wasn’t until her supporting performance as the clumsy Constance in The Three Musketeers that audiences got to see how much fun she could be onscreen when she stopped trying so hard.

By then, though, it was too late. Within a few years she found herself spoofing the image she tried so hard to shed on Mork & Mindy (in an episode Robin Williams has publically described as the mark of the show's decline) and was fired from David S. Ward’s 1982 film Canary Row after 5 days of shooting (reportedly for her diva-like behaviour, but in her successful multi-million lawsuit against the producers, she argued that she had been given the part so the film could obtain its financing, only to be fired and replaced by the director’s preferred choice—Debra Winger—after filming began and it was too late for the financiers to pull out).

In his great book Hype and Glory, Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman asked us to consider who the better actor is—Laurence Olivier or Arnold Schwarzenegger. A seemingly no-brainer, he went on to remind us that while Arnold would be terribly cast in productions of Hamlet or Richard III, Larry would have been equally as useless in The Terminator or Conan the Barbarian. In other words, there’s a huge difference between being a great actor and a great movie star.

Raquel Welch was never going to be the former, but in a different place and time she could have been the latter. I know this because I’ve seen and own a copy of her greatest achievement—her million-dollar 1970 TV special Raquel! which I’m going to have to discuss in detail sometime soon.

Until then, I urge you to give Flareup a miss.

Repost: Of Sex Sirens Past (and Paster)

(I've decided to repost this in anticipation of tomorrow's new B-Movie Bullsh*t, which shares a very important connection to this particular film. The reason why it's taken me so long to repost it is because doing so represented a major reformating challenge. I think I managed to take care of most of the problems, but I ask your forgiveness for the places I missed or was too frustrated to spend any more time trying to fix.)

Since this is the third time I have taken it upon myself to discuss a WWTTM (a What Were They Thinking Movie, for those of you who are just coming in) I suppose I should take a moment to explain the difference between a film that has earned the above honorific and one that merely sucks ass.  It all comes down to two factors, the first of which is that the film itself must be constructed upon an idea, philosophy, casting choice, artistic vision or adaptation that any sane person could instantly tell had no chance of succeeding, and the second is that the resulting movie must be—either despite or because of its inherent flaws—constantly compelling to watch from beginning to end.  A WWTTM can be many things—ridiculous, offensive, desperate, cheap, lavish, tacky, dignified, ambitious, lazy or even (in the case of one movie I plan on discussing in the future) genuinely good—but the one thing it CANNOT be is boring.

The subject of today’s discussion can be described by almost all of the adjectives above, with the only exceptions being dignified and genuinely good.  It is a film that reaches a level of being one can only attain by accident and not deliberate will—a satire so confused and muddled that it becomes a grotesque self-parody that is easy to laugh at, but impossible to laugh with.  It is a filmed adaptation of a novel that is so misguided and distracted by its occasional attempts at plot that one doesn’t have to be familiar with the original book to appreciate how badly the filmmakers failed to do it justice—one has to assume that the book at least made some kind of sense and had an actual point upon which its satire was constructed.  It is a film that badly wants to make fun of the period it takes place in, but instead only serves to illustrate the era’s excesses rather than mock them—its desire to be hip being the very thing that renders it square.

I am, of course, talking about:

Our humble little film begins with a note, written by the films hero, just before he is about to become its heroine.  It reads:

Aum, shouldn't this be written in yellow ink?

Randolph, we will later learn, is Myron's psychiatrist/dentist--a revelation that is somewhat dampened by the fact that the character doesn't appear in the film until its last 15 minutes (and even then his appearence is completely unnecessary), by which time the contents of this note have been completely forgotten and his introduction is more than a bit confusing in its seeming randomness.We then cut to the most annoyingly “surreal” operating room ever committed to celluloid, where our hero is impatiently waiting for his operation to get underway.

Sadly, this marks the high point of Reed's performance.

This is Myron Breckinridge, as played by the famous confused shoplifter and film critic, Rex Reed (whose only other cinematic credits include cameos as himself in Superman and Lost in America, a small part in the Drew Barrymore vehicle Irreconcilable Differences and a performance that didn't make it past the editing room in Inchon, one of the biggest flops of the 80s).  And while you may assume that since Myron is about to undergo a sex change operation that will--rather improbably--transform him into Raquel Welch, this will be the last we see of him, do not fret. He's not going anywhere.

According to director Michael Sarne, the spectators represent film directors who want to celebrate emasculation.
He says a lot of stuff like that in his commentary.
He's an asshole.

With a group of spectators and a young woman with a whip in attendence, the good surgeon undertaking the operation (b-movie stalwart and father of Robert, Keith and David--John Carradine) finally arrives (to applause) and attempts to talk Myron out of going through with it.  "You realize once we cut it off, it won't grow back," he warns him.  "I mean it isn't like hair, fingernails or toenails...,"

See that nurse there?
She appears several times throughout the movie, making references to "nuts".
Sarne calls her appearances a "leitmotif".
Did I mention Sarne's an asshole?

"How about circumcision?" the surgeon suggests as a compromise, but Myron won't have any of it."C'mon, c'mon, let's get it over with," he says impatiently, "Myra's waiting!"The doctor shrugs and gets to work, while Myron starts to sing "I've Got A Secret Place" to himself.

It is then at this point that we are first exposed to an editing decision made by director Michael Sarne that involves cutting to scenes from classic films to either comment on or serve as ironic counterpart to specific moments in the movie.

Here we cut to a scene from a Shirley Temple movie in which the adorable lil' moppet tells us that she's about to sing a song called "S-M-I-L-E".  True to her word, she starts singing the song and we see Myron as he walks down the street in a snazzy white suit.  But wait!  Didn't Myron get a sex change in the previous scene?  Yes he most certainly did, but this seeming inconsistancy is soon shown to be a dramatic device--Myra still sees herself as Myron, so his presence is always with her, even though the rest of the world only sees this:

I'm going out on a limb to say this, but Raquel Welch was hot.


Now I know what you're thinking,
how could


I have no fucking idea.

After she has entertained us by dancing with her male half along the sidewalk, Myra explains to us that Myron died so she could live and that she is "...a dish and don't you ever forget it you mot-BLEEP-herfuckers--as the children say nowadays," (you can definitely tell that this is a film from 1970 in that they chose to bleep the word "mother" rather than "fucker"):   


She also tells us that her "...purpose in coming to Hollywood is to witness the destruction of the American male in all its particulars..." and that the best place to witness said destruction is at the drama school run by Myron's uncle, a former cowboy actor named Buck Loner (John Huston in a performance that makes you truly forget what a great filmmaker he was).

Apparently Huston actually lobbied to get this role (Sarne wanted Mickey Rooney instead).
This makes me incredibly sad.

Myra introduces herself to Buck as Myron's widow and explains to him that her late husband left her the property he had inherited from his mother.  Since this property consists of half of the land upon which Buck's drama school is built, she expects him to buy her out to the tune of $500,000.  Rather than hand her the cash right away, he accepts her offer to hire her on as a teacher at the school (specializing in the subjects of Posture and Empathy) for $1000 a month.
After we are introduced to Irving, one of Buck's longterm students (who tells Myra that most of the school's pupils have been there longer than most of the faculty), we cut to a scene of Myra teaching a class while dressed in a navy officer's uniform (which, of course, comes after a clip of Marlene Dietrich in the same outfit).  Buck watches her from a monitor in his office as she tells the class that it is a "...hard fact that American women are eager for men to rape them--and vice versa--and that in every American there is a strangler longing to break a neck during orgasm":

We then cut to scenes of life at the school.  Students practice archery, western saloon antics and onscreen lovemaking, as Irving gives Myra (who we see as Myron) a tour of the facilities.  In a moment that is meant to be bitingly satiric, but only comes across as lame, an asian janitor stumbles out from behind the bushes of the archery target with an unconvincing arrow sticking through his chest.  He collapses to the ground, just as a hippie dwarf and his lady walk on by.

It's just not the right kind of pretentious if you don't get a Little Person in there at some point.


Unsurprisingly, Buck is hesitant to give up half of his property to someone who claims to have married his "fag" nephew, so he decides to investigate Myra's claims and see if they hold up to any scrutiny.  Meanwhile, Myra is lecturing about the importance of "star power" to a group of mouthbreathing students at a table in the school's saloon.  Among these students are a studly young hillbilly named Rusty Godowski (Roger Herron in his first and only major film role) and his ultra-blond girlfriend Mary Ann Pringle (a 23 year-old Farrah Fawcett) who Myra--quite accurately--calls "retarded".


This picture completely fails to convey the complete vacuum that is this couple's onscreen film presence.

It is at this point in the proceedings that the film takes it single biggest leap into the nonsensical and bizarre, as it is here that we are introduced to:

It really is best that you don't think about what's coming next.

Leticia Van Allen is the top agent in Tinseltown, specializing in--as her sign makes explicitly clear--LEADING MEN ONLY. Leticia, as it turns out, is something of a Renaissance Woman, as she is not only a top agent, but also a movie star, recording artist and nightclub singer.  But these various pursuits rank far behind the true raison d'etre of her existence, which is to get laid and speak only in an endless stream of embarrasingly unsubtle inneundo.  This in itself would not be to bad, were it not for the fact that Ms. Van Allen is portrayed by none other than Mae West herself, who was 77 when the movie was filmed and looks it.

Among the gaggle of handsome men waiting to see Ms. Van Allen is a young Tom Selleck, who is selected by the horny geriatric to sit down on her casting couch:

Selleck's ability to convincingly play a man who isn't revolted by West's creepy overtures
sure doesn't help squash the gay rumors that have dogged him for years.

If you're wondering what West's character has to do with the plot of the move, don't expect the film to supply an answer.  Despite West's top billing and generous onscreen time, her character could have been excised completely from the film without it effecting the story in any way.  Instead all she manages to do is remind the viewer that Raquel Welch is actually doing a pretty good job with the material she's being given, which inspires the hope that she'll return onscreen as soon as possible.

Let's hear it for gratitous panty shots!

Following the unpleasentness of the previous sequence, the movie cuts to the the much more attractive sight of Myra and Mary Anne relaxing at Myra's apartment.  After giving a short lecture on the glories of singing stars from the past ("Why the Andrew Sisters really did "Roll out that Barrel" and no one yet has ever rolled it back.") Myra tells the young woman that of all the students at the school she has the most star potential.  Mary Anne recieves the compliment graciously, but admits that she only goes to the school to be with Rusty and all she wants from life is to marry him and have four children--a revelation that sickens Myra to her very core.

Can you feel her frustration and rage?  Or do you expect her to start ranting about wire hangers?

After she has ranted to Myron about Mary Anne's ignorance of popular music from the 40s and her selfish desire to help populate an over-crowded world, Myra once again recites her mission statement, telling us that:"My goal is the destruction of the last vestigal traces of traditional manhood," in order to "realign the sexes," while "decreasing population," thus "increasing human happiness, " and "preparing humanity for its next stage."How exactly she is to do this by working at a low-rent drama school and fucking around with a hillbilly and his retarded blond lollipop of a girlfriend is anybody's guess.But before we can start pondering this too deeply, we are then treated to the most bizarre tribute to masturbation ever lensed in the 7th decade of the 20th century.  In a scene that is best not overly contemplated, lest it cause migraines, Myra proceeds to give her male counterpart a blowjob:

Oh, the horrible waste of it all.
They could have at least hired someone who would have enjoyed pretending to be fellated by the lovely Ms. Welch.

While he in turn fantasizes about being fed bananas by a lingerie clad Mary Anne.

There are no words.

After a few--way too long--shots of Reed pretending to pleasure himself (sans Myra) we cut over to a scene where his female half is giving a lecture on the incredible star presence of Johnny Weismuller in Tarzan and the Amazons, which infuriates one of the faculty members who complains that the film is "trash" and "lacks a single moment of truth in it".

Sarne thinks it is amusing to cut to a shot of himself (he's got the beard)
just as Myra starts talking about actors who have played Jesus.
That's something an asshole would do.

Thanks to his TV monitors, Uncle Bucks hears Myra speaking and decides to abandon his massage in order to tell her that her crazy ideas are having a negative affect on the students.  Myra will have none of it and tells him that his school has "...assembled...the national dregs, the misfits, the neurotics--in short, the fuck ups of our culture."  Buck defends his pupils and threatens to fire her, to which she responds by threatening to take away the entire school from him.  This gets his back up and he tells her that he isn't certain that she was "...even ever really married to that fag."  Myra responds to this suggestion like a true lady.

Oh, snap!  Oh no, she dinnit!

This brief bit of action (which has to be the most poorly shot punch I've ever seen) is followed by another appearance by The Mummy--I mean Leticia Van Allen.

And this is with ten pounds of make up and an industrial strength wig!

Here the next three minutes of the film are dedicated to propping up a poor deluded old woman's ego as some poor Italian actor is forced to play a scene where he declares his eternal love and devotion to West, having flown all the way from Italy just to see her in person.  Again, this has nothing to do with the actual plot of the movie.Speaking of the plot, it makes an appearance again when Uncle Buck confronts Myra with the news that there is no record of her marriage to Myron anywhere in the country.  Rather than admit the truth of her ruse, Myra is able to explain this decrepency with the explanation that the reason there is no record of the marriage in the U.S. is because the union occurred in Mexico, which she proceeds to prove by pulling out a (forged) wedding certificate from her riding britches (no, seriously, she's wearing riding britches).

Britches people!  Britches!

In his commentary Sarne complains that the film's second screenwriter, David Giler (who remains best known for producing the Alien series of films), inserted a lot of irrelevent political commentary into the script, which he had no choice but to film.  Though my inclination is not to believe a single word Sarne says, the next scene goes a long way to giving credence to his alibi.  In it Buck meets with his lawyer, Charlie Flager Sr. (character actor Robert Lieb), who rants about the pornographic movie he just watched for the third time.  As the two oldtimers complain about the commie perverts who are taking control of the culture, a couple make out behind them and a hippy is beaten (very gingerly) by a group of cops outside.  This is as hamhanded and obvious as political commentary can get, but before we can feel any sympathy for Sarne, he caps the scene with the second appearance of his "leitmotif" who asks if Flager wants any "nuts" on his banana split.


We then go on to a sequence where Myra mindfucks Rusty as she gives him a lesson in posture (one of her two specialties remember).  She eventually gets him against a wall, where she proceeds to pull down his jeans with a gleeful "Gotcha!"

Why Sarne?  Why?

We are spared the sight of Rusty's reaction to this humiliation, as the film instead cuts to a short party/orgy sequence that adds nothing to the plot (which comes as no surprise since it features Mae West's character) and only seems to exist to provide some nudity to justify the film's X rating.  That done, the movie then gets back on track and returns to the school's saloon where Mary Anne tearfully tells Myra that Rusty has been arrested for violating his parole.  It is at this point where Mae West's character actually comes closest to being relevent to the film, as she now appears in the saloon with Buck, who treats her with the respect her status deserves.  As they sit down she complains that "...all the gay boys are going to take the business over.  There's no more studs around anymore.  Everyone's poppin' pills and smokin' grass."  What this has to do with anything is anyone's guess, but she does deliver her lines with gusto, reminding us just how annoying a bad Mae West impersonater (which is really the best way to describe her performance) can be.

It was most likely this movie that propagated the rumor that West was really a drag queen
who kept a really big secret for 50 years. I don't think it's true, but she is more manly than Rex Reed.

Speaking of performances, it's probably a good time to mention that Welch's take on her transexual character largely involves her wearing a different outfit and hairstyle in every single scene she appears in.  Each ensemble is more outrageous and fambloyant than the next, but if I were more open with my inner homo I would spend the next paragraph rhapsodizing about the frilly black number she wears in the only scene in which she is onscreen with her chief onset rival (the two actresses loathed each other; West hated Welch for her lack of respect and rudeness, while Welch resented the fact that West got top billing for a role that adding nothing to the film and was truly pissed off that the filmmakers acquiesced to all of the older star's bizarrely inappropriate demands).  Instead I will merely say that I find it very attractive and it makes me wish I could have sex with her, which I think is the appropriate hetero response.

Isn't it just so utterly fabulous!

But then it might be a bit of a stretch to say that the two actresses appear together in this scene, since we never actually see both of their faces in the same shot.  It's fairly obvious that the two divas hated each other so much that they refused to work together and the entire scene was shot using body doubles.  This probably explains the look on John Huston's face:



Through their body doubles, Leticia and Myra are able to bond--imagining a time when they will have as many handsome young men to bed as they desire.  Myra is also able to convince Leticia to help her extricate Rusty from his legal woes.  In the scene that follows, Leticia calls a judge she knows intimately and gets Rusty released into Myra's care.  This is literally the only moment when her character does anything relevent to the plot of the movie we are supposed to be watching.  Somehow I think they could have figured out another way to get Rusty out of jail, but that's just me.  After having to listen to another "politically satirical" rant from the judge, Myra reunites Rusty with Mary Anne and the three of them go out for a night on the town, where that evening's entertainment consists of--who else?--Leticia Van Allen.  Among the demands that West made that irked the holy living bejesus out of Welch, the oddest had to be her insistence that she be giving not one, but two musical numbers in the film.  Considering that a) the movie wasn't supposed to be a musical, b) West's character was supposed to be an agent, not a night club performer and c) she was too old to do anything a real musical number physically required, I think Welch had a good reason to be enraged that Sarne agreed to the older star's insane stipulation.  That said, the musical numbers are entertaining in a Faces of Death kind of way.

I think I've done a good job of establishing my belief that Raquel Welch was a smoking hottie.

As the old woman "sings" her song onstage, Rusty and Myra engage in a debate about homosexuality which goes like this:

Rusty:  Hell, jail wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for all those faggots.  There's alway some fruit after you. 
Myra:  That shouldn't bother you Rusty.
Rusty:  Well, the whole idea makes me wanna puke--a man should act like a man.  Know what I mean?
Myra:  How should a man act?
Rusty: (after a loooong pause)  He should ball chicks.  That's how.

At this point Sarne inserts another appearance from his "leitmotif".


After pondering Rusty's last piece of wisdom, Myra waxes philosophic.

Myra:  What is normal?
Mary Anne:  Well, it's what everyone does.  I mean, it's what the majority of society does most.
Rusty: (after a slightly shorter pause than before)  Yeah!

Thus ends the great human sexuality debate of 1970, just in time for another musical number during which West does something truly attrocious to Otis Redding:  

This cuts to several scenes that give us unneeded and unwanted insight into Buck's home life and fondness for massages.  And here we finally come to the scene for which this WWTTM is best remembered.  Sarne calls the scene the film's "sine qua non," but he's an asshole so ignore him at your leisure.  That said it isn't unreasonable to declare the scene the film's raison d'etre, which is unfortunate because when it ends the movie still doesn't make any sense.On the pretext that Rusty needs his spine "traced" for a back brace he requires to tend to a recent injury, Myra calls him into the school's infirmary late at night and proceeds to weigh and measure him.  She also makes him provide a urine specimen, which seems like questionable medicine to me, considering he's there about his back and she's not actually a nurse or doctor.  Finally, after she has adminstered the "cough" test, she gets to the real reason she called him into the infirmary and orders him to drop trou so she can "take his temperature."  He protests the need to have it taken "that way," but she threatens to go to the judge and have him sent back to jail if he doesn't comply.  He gives in and--to keep him still--she ties him to the examining table. 

The stupidest man alive, ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you and good night. Having ensnarled him in her trap, she explains to him that he "...has a lot to learn.  All you men have a lot to learn and I have taken it upon myself to teach you."  "What are you going to do?" he asks her.

And cue dramatic!

"I shall ball you Rusty," she answers him diabolically.  "It's very simple." And then she sodomizes him as the movie cuts frantically to footage from classic films:


Insert lame Brokeback Mountain joke here.

The first part of her plan now complete, she lets Rusty go.  If he is upset about her horrible desecration of his body, he does not show it (or at the very least Roger Heron lacks the ability to express that particular emotion).

I don't quite get why she is the one who looks like she's just gotten some junk stuck in her trunk.

"Can I go now?" he asks her as he gets dressed.She nods and tells him he's free to leave, but before he goes she asks him one last question."Aren't you going to thank me for all of the trouble I've taken?""Thank you, ma'am," he answers her quietly, before he leaves.

I have nothing funny to say in this caption.

Back at her apartment, Myra recieves a call from Mary Anne who is downstairs and wants to come up and see her.  She happily invites her up and explains to Myron that "...having raped Rusty's manhood, I must now complete the cycle and seduce his girl.  Only then will my victory be complete.  Thus exuding power over both sexes and indeed over life itself."  Before Myron can correctly accuse her of being a crazy bitch, Mary Anne arrives at the apartment.  Then, under Myron's disapproving gaze (which Reed rather amusingly illustrates through the use of single cocked eyebrow), Myra attempts to seduce innocent young Mary Anne, who is distraught by Rusty's disappearance following his declaration that he "...was sick of women."  Gee, I wonder why?  (One has to assume that in Vidal's book Rusty's rejection of all things female was meant to suggest a reversal of his contention that the definition of manliness is the inclination to "ball chicks", but here it seems more like the understandable result of the resentment anyone would feel after having a woman rape them up the ass.)

Note the disapprovingly crooked eyebrow. Now that's acting!

Myra manages to convince Mary Anne to change into a pair of men's pajamas and stay in her bed that night.  As she (and Myron) comfort the beautiful retard, she gets a call from Leticia, who thanks her for sending Rusty over to her place, where they have done things I refuse to think about.  "Is it the right colour?" asks Myra, referring (I'm assuming) to Rusty's penis.  "Well, I guess so," says Leticia.  "It's the usual colour.  Didn't you ever make it with him?"  "Not in the classic way, no," answers Myra.

In his commentary Sarne tells us that Rusty's position in the bed is "obviously" based on Dali's Crucifixion.
It is his use of the word "obviously" that makes me conclude that he is an asshole.

Back at the drama school, Buck and his lawyer's son confront Myra with accusations that her Mexican wedding certificate is bogus and demand proof that she and Myron were really married.  Myra calls their bluff and informs them confidently that "Proof will arrive before the end of the week in the person of Dr. Randolph Spencer Montag."  This news stops the two men dead in their tracks.  "M-montag?" stutters Flager, Jr.  "The great dental psychiatrist?"  Yes, that Dr. Randolph Spencer Montag, who just happens to be the Randolph mentioned in the note at the very beginning of the film.

Okay, would you trust your teeth to guy who looked like this?

Your mind, maybe, but your teeth?  Never. Randolph is only too happy to help Myra out of her jam and agrees to fly over to California and confirm her and Myron's wedded status.  In the end, though, it proves to be a wasted trip, since Myra is able to prove her connection to Myron with only a few words of encouragement from the good doctor (in fact the only reason the character appears in the film at all is to justify his being mentioned in the earlier note--I'm guessing he had a much more significant role in the book).Upon being told there is no record of Myron's death to be found anywhere, Myra finally tells her Uncle and his lawyers the truth--that she is in fact Myron.  To prove her point, she gets up on Buck's desk, lifts up her skirt and drops her panties.

I don't quite get what this would prove.  Did the surgeon not give Myron a vagina?
We know he doesn't have a penis, so is there just a Ken doll blank spot where his cooter should be?

"That's the ballgame," sighs Uncle Buck, knowing that he's been beaten.Her finances secure, Myra focuses her attention back on Mary Anne, who is willing to share a bed but won't "seal the deal" if you get what I mean (ie. have sex with her).  She thanks Myra for all of her care and attention, but can't go through with a full-on descent into lesbomania.  "If only you were a man," Mary Anne laments, unaware of the irony of her wishes.

Now this here is some deviant sexuality I can get behind and give my full support!

We then cut to a shot of Myra attempting to cross a busy road, where she is almost hit by a car.  Who is at the wheel?  Why, it's Myron!

What could this possibly mean?  Wait for it....

"I'll get you this time," we hear Myron think to himself.  "It's a dangerous thing, ambition.  It ruined Mickey Mouse's whole career.  Well, now it's eight bars and out, honey.  You were no more than a Linda Darnell paper doll; a Disney cow that got over the fence.  You got ambitious.  You were great in Cinemascope and Technicolor, but you can't cut it in black and white."Before we have time to figure out what the fuck that all means, Myron gets another chance to plow into Myra and this time he does not miss.

Oh, snap!  Oh no, he dinnit!

But soon we learn that it wasn't Myra who was hit by a car, it was:

Confused?  Don't worry, enlighenment is nigh upon us.

As he is taken away by the paramedics, Sarne gives us one last final look at his "leitmotif":

Apparently her appearance in the film was inspired by a Fellini movie Sarne had seen.
Assholes tend to steal ideas from more talented people.

The DVD of the film includes two different versions of the movie that are identical save for the very last scene.  In the regular version of the film (which features an entertainingly honest commentary by Welch), this scene is in colour, but in the "Director's Cut" (which features a weaselly commentary by Sarne) it is in black and white, which--the director tells us--is meant to remind us of The Wizard of Oz.Like Dorothy, Myron wakes up in a bed, but instead of being surprised to discover his friends and family keeping watch over him, like she did, he grabs his chest and asks "Where are my tits?  Where are my tits?":


Somehow I think we're still not in Kansas here.

Turns out Myron is in a hospital, where he is visited by a doctor who resembles the world's most famous lost millionaire.

With this one small cameo, the film is saved by the "Jim Backus Rule",
which clearly states that you have to love any movie that features an appearance from Mr. Magoo.

The two men engage in a brief and completely nonsensical discussion about movies, as the brunette nurse who is giving Myron an injection transforms into:

Thanks to sloppy editing (the "transformation" could just as easily be confused for a continuity error, which it might have actually been)it is unclear if Mary Anne's appearance here is a fantasy or something that is really happening.

As Myron takes in this vision of loveliness, he realizes that his life as Myra was just a dream.  The proof of this being the movie magazines on his night stand, which feature a famous actress on their cover:

Thank God they didn't go with Mae West.

And that my friends is the end.

As the credits roll Sarne insists that it is perfectly clear that the film we have just seen is about a movie critic who got hit by a car and dreamed he was a woman and that the only way he could make this any clearer would be to remake the whole film again.  I think you know by now what word I shouted at my TV set when he said this, but in case you don't, I'll give you a hint--it rhymes with "mass pole".

So that's Myra Breckinridge.  Having read about it you would all do well to remember that it won't grow back if you cut it off--unless you do it in a dream.