This week two of the most outrageous films ever made in the studio system were on cable. Both are raunch extravaganzas from 1970–set in Hollywood backgrounds; both from FOX; both originally rated X; & long before the terrific Transamerica, & The Crying Game–both featured transsexual protagonists.
Ladies & Gents… may we talk about Myra Breckinridge & Beyond the Valley of the Dolls?
Myra Breckinridge carried the imprimatur of prestige–adapted from a Gore Vidal novel. Starring Raquel Welch as the gorgeous after-product–Myra–w/ fey film critic, Rex Reed, as pre-cut Myron, it’s all sly innuendo. 80-something screen legend, Mae West, takes double-entendre to new heights; iconic director, John Huston, camps it up; unknown Farrah Fawcett is bland & blander; & unknown Tom Selleck is one of Mae’s young studs.
Helming the 2nd title was soft-core sleazemeister, Russ Meyer, working w/ a major & a budget. “Dolls” was written by film critic extraordinaire, Roger Ebert! This was insane material for a Hollywood studio…or anyone else. Schlocky nudie cuties ramped up w/ ultra-violence. This was no Clockwork Orange, baby, also from 1970 & rated X. FOX was that desperate to capture a new market!
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is now very timely for one big reason: Our current Hollywood celeb trial is finally in its last stage–deliberation and this flick echoes it. In the movie a boy genius record producer–who bears a striking similarity to Mr. Wall of Sound–Phil S–is really a tranny looking to be Super-Woman. It goes out w/ a bang when he blows the head off a sleeping female guest! WHEW.
If that wasn’t enuff, TCM capped off my week of Grand Guignol w/ Whatever Happened To Baby Jane. Here reel-life cinema divas, Joan Crawford & Bette Davis, chew-it-up as aging sisters (Crawford plays a former film star; Davis a failed Hollywood dreamer)–duking it out in a Hancock Park mansion.
IF TOMMY PERSE MADE MOVIES…….!!!!!!!