Sunday, August 7, 2011

Women in Revolt (Paul Morrissey, 1971)

Whether they're dangling indoors or dangling outdoors, the sight of male genitalia flopping freely without the support of a two-pronged hammock always makes me nervous. How nervous, you reluctantly ask? Let's say one minute you're sitting on the couch watching your boyfriend mirthfully skip to the fridge to get some more horseradish. Sounds innocent enough, right? Well, you won't be thinking it's so innocent the moment you find yourself desperately trying to stem the flow of blood gushing from between their legs with the latest issue of Italian Vogue. Accidentally slicing off a substantial chunk of their cherished junk as a result of tripping and falling crotch-first into one of the sharper-than-usual corners of your expensive coffee table, you calmly pick up the pieces and proceed to drive them to the emergency room. First off, you're probably thinking to yourself: why are the corners of their coffee table so damned sharp? But more importantly, you'll be cursing the delicate nature of the male reproductive system (why couldn't my boyfriend have a vagina?!?). Which reminds me, whenever I'd watch my cat lick himself, I would always feel a tad envious over the fact that he could retract his penis in a manner that allowed them to carry themselves with a modicum of dignity while he performed his daily allotment of cat-based duties. I would think to myself: Gee, I wish I could retract the overwhelming largeness of my penis (I've got a plethora of non-penis-related things to do during the day). Unfortunately, a naked man isn't like a cat at all, they're obscene, useless, violent, and, worst of all, frightfully unladylike. The women in Paul Morrissey's Women in Revolt are beginning to realize this as well, and who can blame them. Sick of being paid less money and tired of having their meaty holes treated like some sort of repository for wayward pricks, the kooky collection of women who populate this shrill realm are ready to start a revolution.

Introduced just as they're about to turn their backs on the disgusting men in their lives, two New York women, at the height of their foxiness, join together with other like-minded, cunt-positive individuals to form P.I.G. (Politically Involved Girls), a group for women who have had enough of living in a male-dominated society. Led by Jackie (Jackie Curtis), a garrulous, take charge school teacher, and Holly (Holly Woodlawn), a manic fashion model with a propensity for spastic writhing and impromptu dry humping, the upstart organization tries to recruit Candy (Candy Darling), a leggy blonde heiress/aspiring actress, into the girlish fold with the hope that she will inject the movement with some much needed class and distinction.

Providing us with some great insight as to what makes these ladies tick, the opening scene allows us to familiarize ourselves with the spiritual makeup of the women we'll be spending the next ninety or so minutes with. While it's obvious that they all share a mutual disdain for men, what's fascinating is the unique manner they each go about expressing their contempt. Sitting with a bored look on her face, Candy articulates her dislike for men with a detached elan ("you made me old before my time," she purrs). In another part of the city, that city, of course, being New York City, Jackie, her neck adorned with a sparkling choker, explains her man-hate with an intellectual flair. Words like, "detached" and "intellectual," however, will never be used to describe the temperament of Holly Woodlawn, as she takes lunacy to a whole new level of crazy.

My finely tuned crush receptors on were on high alert the second I saw the back of Holly's head gyrating like a defective ragdoll. Why was her head doing what you said it was doing? Well, her head, and her lovely mane of frazzled brunette hair, was behaving that way because her body was busy reacting to impact of her boyfriend's unstructured thrusting. At any rate, the moment she turned around, Holly Woodlawn had me completely under her spell. I'll never forget the image of her enchanting mug spewing obscenities in the general direction of her possessive male lover. Peppering the future leader of the Cobra Kai dojo's (Martin Kove) eardrums with a wide array of putdowns (my personal favourite: "eat my asshole, fucker!), Holly's madness was simply exquisite.

While painting her toenails, Jackie's naked house boy, Dusty (Dusty Springs), has the nerve to suggest that the women's liberation movement has poisoned her mind. After spraying a couple of his key cervices with deodorant, and scolding him for his lacklustre approach to housekeeping, Jackie starts hurling lit matches at his groin. The only reason I'm mentioning this scene is because of the mortified look on Jackie's face when she realizes that one of the matches she tossed at him almost set his dick on fire was freaking hilarious (ample pubic hair is tantamount to kindling). And I also liked the scene because it mostly centres around the beautification of Jackie's legs and feet.

The next scene, where a bespectacled Holly comes over, is a classic, in that it features a wacky exchange between Jackie Curtis and the guy (Paul Issa) who gave Holly a ride (he also brought a plant). "Take your balls and go," Jackie tells the plant guy. To which the plant guy responds: "what's wrong with my genitals? Jackie fires back: "I don't like 'em." The plant guy limply tells her: "but you don't know them." Like the majority of the scenes in Women in Revolt, the ungenteel argument with the plant guy doesn't really add or take anything away from the film's narrative, but it does contain a distinct satirical flavour that tricks you into believing that you're watching something artistically important.

The plan to coerce Candy into joining P.I.G. actually germinates while Holly is performing peripheral anilingus on Jackie's house boy. In fact, my favourite Holly Woodlawn nonplussed expression in Women in Revolt is when she glances down at the house boy's ass and quickly lifts her head up. The perplexed look on her face the moment she stops giving the house boy, to quote Jackie Curtis, "an anal root canal," was comedy gold.

Call me grossly unaware of my surroundings, and, while we're at it, someone who is playing fast and loose with their remaining faculties, but I thought Candy Darling looked a tad frumpy during her opening scene. Well, don't worry, I finally came to my senses the instant I saw her talking on the telephone. Clutching a copy of the New York Times, her neck adorned with pearls, her head affixed with a saucy turban, and her lips smeared with the reddest shade of lipstick currently available on the market, Candy gave me a refresher course on how to be chic and fabulous. And all she did was stand there.

The members of P.I.G. gather to exchange horror stories while they await the arrival of Candy, whose "glittering facade" would give some much needed glamour to the burgeoning female supremacist movement. A woman named Betty (Betty Blue), one sporting the cutest lesbian haircut the world has ever seen, tells the group an anecdote involving a little person who struggled to pleasure himself in front of her on 42nd Street because his arms were too short to reach the area most commonly associated with masturbation, and another woman (Penny Arcade) shares her harrowing account of a run-in she had with a toe sucking policeman.

As usual, while all this yakking is going on, Holly Woodlawn can be seen grinding her lanky frame against the bodies of the unexplained gaggle of mute effeminate men that seem to travel with the politically involved girls.

It would seem that Candy isn't all that interested in women's liberation, no, what she really wants to do is become a movie star. Meeting with a producer, Candy tells him that she's looking to break into showbiz. Even though their meeting will probably end with rough sex on an office couch, Candy does get to do her impression of Joan Bennett from Scarlet Street and Kim Novak in Picnic. Oh, and I like how the producer tells Candy that her legs are "not bad." Not bad?!? What a pratt.

The people unamused by the dialogue featured in Women in Revolt, and I'm sure there will be many, will love the scene where Jackie's responses to various queries are muffled by Mr. America's cock. Curious about the appeal of heterosexual intercourse, Jackie blows all the money they acquired from the movement's primary donor on gigolos. This, of course, upsets the other members of P.I.G., and leads to the downfall of women's liberation.

A confrontation between Jackie and a group of irate women at a bar (Brigid Berlin plays the bartender) had the potential of being a top-notch girl-fight. But like most of the scenes in this movie, Andy Warhol's incompetent camera work (for some reason Paul Morrissey allowed the "pop artist" to operate the camera) ruined the impact of many scenes. In fact, it was his wonky camera work that inspired that whole tangent I went on about male genitals (his camera angles were quite testicle-centric). Anyway, the best thing to come out of the brawl scene was a shot of Holly Woodlawn posing like the Puerto Rican goddess that she is.

One minute Holly is doing what she does best, groping Jane Forth on a leather couch while wearing a teal-coloured skirt, the next, and by "next" I mean nine months later, she's stumbling through the slush-covered streets with no one to grope. It just goes to show you how quickly a woman's life can go from being fabulous to ordinary. Of course, the film does a terrible job at conveying this point, and, on top of that, it gives screeching harpies a bad name. Barely tolerable at times, Women in Revolt is an excellent showcase for its three stars, Candy Darling in particular, but it's a bit of a failure in terms of being cohesive piece of filmed entertainment.

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  1. Remember when Stephen Dorff played Candy Darling in I Shot Andy Warhol?
    Now he's starring in crappy Sofia Coppola movies. (Somewhere was wretched.)

    Plant guy. Hee hee.

    I'm reading the quotes from this movie over at IMDb. "Forty seconals." Hee hee.

    Are you going to see any films at TIFF?

  2. The Dorffman was also in John Waters' Cecil B. Demented. Anyway, yeah, I love I Shot Andy Warhol (Jared Harris' Andy Warhol is probably my favourite out of all the Warhol portrayals), the recent Edie" Sedgwick biopic, however, was a bit of a letdown.

    Somewhere was wretched, eh? I'm not surprised.

    Is it TIFF time already? Damn. Am I gonna see any films? Maybe, I've haven't decided yet. If something jumps out at me from the schedule, I'll definitely try to check it out. But only if it stars Judy Greer, and is not a remake (oh, and no CGI-laden, Judd Apatow-produced, 3D superhero crap either).

  3. I really liked Jared Harris as Warhol, too! (When I saw that movie, I was in graduate school, and the head of the English Department was a dead ringer for Warhol.)

    Swiss golfer, huh? Not too many of those, especially on the Euro Tour.

    I first saw Mr. Rida on an episode of American Idol. I think he sampled that Dead or Alive song? I just remember the overt sexuality of the performance, which surprised me on such a family-friendly program. LOL.

    Hey, there is a movie with Judy Greer! Something called Jeff, Who Lives at Home I'm eyeing the films with Emile Hirsch, Michael Shannon, and James Badge Dale. And I've heard great things about the Pearl Jam movie.

  4. Was the head of the English Department a Rusyn? 'Cause that's what Andy was... a Rusyn.

    For a split second there, I was like, "Swiss golfer"?!? :D

    When you say "that" Dead or Alive song, I think I know which one you mean.

    Jeff, Who Lives at Home was written and directed by one of those mumblecore guys (The Puffy Chair, Baghead, et al).

    Don't tell anyone this, but have a bit a "thing" for Judy's character on Archer.

    I would go see the Pearl Jam movie, but only if it were about Front 242. ;)

  5. I fell in complete life long lust with Holly Woodlawn first time I saw this. And would you smack me with a dead fish if I said I didn't doubt for a second that she was all woman all the time?

  6. Call me somewhat deranged, but I take comfort in the fact that you've got the hots for Holly Woodlawn.

    Oh, and I would never hit anyone... with a fish that wasn't alive.