Monday, May 23, 2011

The Lonely Lady (Peter Sasdy, 1983)

I have no scientific evidence to back this up, but unplanned lesbianism is probably the leading cause of nervous breakdowns amongst female writers who are at or under five feet tall. Tormented by a profound emptiness, the reason people used to write words was a veiled attempt to either fill a void or connect with humanity. Nowadays, of course, one has numerous avenues that he or she can take in order to get their humble scribblings noticed. Yet back in the early 1980s, your options were quite limited. Well, that's not entirely true. The majestic splendour that is a hairy-backed reprobate who can't fuck to save his life; that morally corrupt place where you are repeatedly forced to perform lewd acts that are run contrary to your preferred sexual proclivities; a degrading job waiting tables at an establishment where sequined gowns with substantial slits up the side are the required uniform; the kneecap distress that comes with imparting oral sex onto the steady shaft's of indifferent day players; and the shadowy underworld of post-award show garden hose rape, for example, all await those who want to write while wearing an infrequently explored vagina. Some might say, what's the point of peppering page after page with English words, if I have to partake in any of those things? While some of the options I listed don't sound all that bad on paper (I'll have a generous serving of involuntary homosexuality with some garden hose rape on the side, please), the idea that a woman has to do anything that involves straddling objects that cause her well-defined calves to wrap snugly yet begrudgingly around the object she is straddling is ridiculous. Women, and some men, shouldn't have to put anything inside their bodies to get their writing published. The quality of their prose, not the quality of their orifices should be the deciding factor when it comes to the appreciation of their work.

People not wearing pointy boots would always ask me what I daydreamed about as I languished at the back of the classroom during my juvenile delinquent days. I used to tell them, "oh, nothing," but truth be told, my mind was racing with images of Pia Zadora struggling to be taken seriously as a stay-at-home deity. Diving headfirst into a polluted wasteland of her own making, I would imagine Pia emerging from the muck clutching a pink Louis Vuitton bag, her brain swelling with a bushel of raw, undiluted talent, ready to fight the forces of cultural ineptitude who would deny her rightly place in the hallowed halls of awesomeness. And unlike her adversaries, a humourless lot who contribute nothing of value to society, she has decided to share her gift with the rest of world. Well, in The Lonely Lady, a gritty motion picture that openly dares to satirize the cruel cesspool that is Hollywood, Miss Zadora displays her gift like it were a beacon of forthright righteousness.

Her able-bodied lips prompt certain areas to become engorged with blood, the sparkliness of her haunting eyes causes Italian lesbians to become wetter than a slice of pornographic peat moss, and her trusty typewriter is powered by a fiery form of pluckiness, let us all bow before Jerilee Randall (Pia Zadora), feisty writer by day, sound sleeper by night; a woman who will use every inch of her deceptively modest frame to get her words to the masses.

After winning a trophy for creative writing at Valley High School, Jerilee, pig-tailed and naive as an unfairly neglected piece of butterscotch, winds up at an after-party where hot dogs and disco are being flaunted in a manner that was mildly untoward. Entranced by Walt Thornton Jr. (Kerry Shale), the son of a famous screenwriter ("do you want relish on your hot dog," he suavely asks), Jerilee dumps her date (a buzzkill named Bernie) and starts to hang with the relish pusher. She knew the screenwriter's son's friend, Joe (a walking trouser bulge played by Ray Liotta), was gonna be trouble the moment he told her that her writing award looked like a penis, but she hops in his station wagon, nonetheless. Cranking "The Fanatic" by Felony on the car stereo, a girl gently massages Joe's genitals with the inside of her mouth in the back seat ("girls from The Valley are so anxious to please") as they make their way the house owned by the screenwriter. This makes the uptight Jerilee uncomfortable, but the Walter, Jr. tells her to relax. Besides, she desperately wants to meet Walter Thorton (Lloyd Bochner) and is totally will endure the squishy sounds that come with someone else' oral gratification to make that happen.

The highs that come with winning a creative writing award aren't usually followed by the lows that come with being sexually assaulted by Ray Liotta with a garden hose, but they are in The Lonely Lady, a film stuffed with enough Pia-based degradation to fill a container that was specifically designed to hold a shitload of Pia Zadora's shame. Feeling guilty over the fact a young woman was viciously attacked near his pool, Walter Thorton, Sr. visits Jerilee, who still recovering from the attack, at her home and apologizes for what happened.

The manner in which she swung back and forth on her backyard swing in her overalls practically screamed malaise (losing your virginity to a flexible tube is never fun), yet Walter's visit seems to cheer Jerilee up. In fact, the two hit off and end up talking about writing for hours. Impressed by Jerilee's scope as a writer (her stories have nothing to do with life in the San Fernando Valley), Walter invites her to go jogging. If the audience had any doubts on whether or not Walter and Jerilee are an item, a brief dating montage is employed in order convey the fact the two are indeed going steady. As you would expect, Veronica (Bibi Besch), Jerilee's mom, thinks Walter is too old for her daughter and disapproves of their relationship. On top of that, mommy thinks writing is stupid and that she should focus the bulk of her energy on getting into Valley State.

Going from tomboyish baseball jerseys to chic black and white dresses covered in stripes, the change in wardrobe signifies that Jerilee is no longer a little girl, but a fashionable woman married to a premature ejaculator with a hairy back. While attending a premiere with her new husband for a film called "Sky Paradise," Jerilee is told by an agent that "women can't write dialogue." This, of course, infuriates the pint-sized wordsmith, who interprets the sexiest comment as a direct challenge to her womanhood. Determined to prove the balding asshole in the cheap suit wrong, Jerilee gets her first book published. In a scene that reminded me of the dinner table scene in Citizen Kane, Jerilee and Walter read reviews of her book at the breakfast table. While not as technically proficient as the famous Orson Welles directed scene, Peter Sasdy, director of The Lonely Lady, still manages to capture the day-to-day grind of their relationship.

Speaking of grinding, tired of having the narrow nooks and the cramped crannies of her delicate frame prodded by a pathetic barrage of insufficient thrusts, Jerilee takes direct control of their love making. Climbing on top of Walter's well-worn cock, Jerilee teaches him how to hump with a subtle grace. Whispering the word "gently" after each dampish plunge, Jerilee, managing to fend off his impending orgasm with each tender jab, is finally able to reap the benefits of consensual sexual intercourse for the first time in her life.

Instructing him how to properly dunk his junk is one thing, but will Walter allow Jerilee to break into the cutthroat world of screenwriting? Judging by what transpires on the set of a film directed by Guy Jackson (Anthony Holland), I'd say the chances are pretty slim. Upset that he failed to acknowledge her contribution to the re-write of a key scene in the movie (he basically takes credit for her work, which, ironically, entailed the writing of a single word), Jerilee throws Walter the kind of stink eye that only an actress of Pia Zadora's calibre could throw. This animosity carries over to the next few scenes, culminating in the utterance of the film's most infamous line. Just when Jerilee seems to getting the upper hand during a spat by the pool, Walter holds up a garden hose and asks, "Is this more your kick?" Call me overly sensitive, but I was shocked and appalled by this display. I mean, for Walter to bring up Jerilee's hose encounter was the epitome of tastelessness.

After leaving Walter's hairy ass in the dust (shame on him for keeping that particular hose lying around his yard), Jerilee moves into a small apartment and starts dating George Ballantine (Jared Martin), a married day player turned A-list actor. Blossoming at a party, one where Pia Zardora's version of "The Clapping Song" can be heard playing playing in the background, Jerilee woos the young actor with the help of a white pantsuit. While the quality of the thrusting may have vastly improved, Jerilee still can't seem to make it as a screenwriter. Those paying close attention will have noticed that Jerilee has begun to cross her legs when in the seated position. What she's trying convey to the world at large by employing this new sitting technique is that her cunt is closed for business, but the sleazy agents, no doubt unaccustomed to being denied their daily allotment of guilt-free anilingus, shun her with extreme prejudice.

Falling further down the drain of depravity, Jerilee hooks up with Vincent Decosta (Joseph Cali), the shady owner of Kicks, L.A.'s hottest nightclub. Promising the produce her screenplay, Decosta gives Jerilee a job as waitress at his club and lets her rent out his genitals for recreational purposes. A montage is utilized to speed up their courtship that involves horseback riding, the consumption of ice cream, and lettuce shopping. What she doesn't realize while she's prancing about with her new beau is that she's gonna have to deploy her rarely used lesbian reluctance face in the not-so distant future.

Sapphic residue is not something you can simply wash off by taking a shower in your clothes, and who better to overreact to having their puffy mouth muffled by the crumpled lady bits of a mysterious Italian woman than Pia Zadora; the unequaled leader when it comes not wanting to perform cunnilingus on strangers.

The moment she yells "I write for me!" at the man she is currently having cocaine-fueled sex with, Pia Zadora makes it clear that The Lonely Lady is her movie. Anyone who tries to interfere with the execution of her craft will be dealt with in the most gruesome manner possible (yeah, that's right, even you Colette "We're in the pipe, five by five" Hiller). Of course, I don't mean to imply that Pia would harm those who would dare impede her growth as an artist, I'm just saying you don't want to be on the receiving end of her glowering infrastructure.

Whenever I think of feminism, writing, and fabulousness, the name Pia Zadora immediately springs to mind. In other words, it should come as no surprise that the energetic little spitfire manages to encapsulate all three with a breathtaking ease. The incomparable Pia does have help in the form of a makeup artist (Rino Carboni), a hair stylist (Corrado Cristofori), and a seamstress (Luciana Mancini), who all contribute to her overall voguishness. However, it's Pia's nature flair as an actress that makes The Lonely Lady the resounding success that it is. Her ability to play a wide-eyed teen with pigtails in one scene, to a sophisticated woman who doesn't want to lick your pussy in another, is a testament to her courageousness. Students of acting will want to take note of the way Miss Zadora holds her wine glasses throughout this film. You see, in the early going she holds her glass with two hands (signifying her character's inexperience), while later on she holds it like an alcoholic would–you know, with one hand.

This boldness also comes across in her many outfits, as Pia's wardrobe, designed by Giorgio Desideri, is a brilliant mix of disco chic and trophy wife practicality. If I had to choose my favourite Pia Zadora look in The Lonely Lady, I couldn't. Seriously, how can anyone pick just one outfit? You can't. It's impossible. Well, you can rule out the clothes she wears as a teen (frumpy dresses and drab sportswear), and you can forget about the stuff she wears while lounging/hallucinating (my typewriter keys are trying to kill me!) in her apartment. No, Pia's journey to styletown begins at the movie premiere (those red shorts were to die for) and ends at the award show, where the slit on her red gown will drive slit fans totally meshugana. Other garments of note were: The blue and white gingham number she wears with a pair of white pants during a lunch date; the black and white Klaus Nomi-inspired dress; I loved the light blue backless number she wore during her second lesbian encounter; and the yellow dress she dons while trying to land an agent practically screamed leggy sex.

video uploaded by johnmatrix1

Special thanks to world-renowned scrunchie scholar Thomas Duke, head curator over at Cinema Gonzo, for introducing me to this camp classic.


  1. Any chance you could link the pics in the side bars to their respective film entries/descriptions?

    ps. Is the movie Holy Mountain something that would fit your site?

  2. It should be noted that calling me a "scrunchie scholar" is playing fast and loose with the facts. I have only made two discoveries within the scrunchie sciences:

    1. Pia's Scrunchie from "Voyage of the Rock Aliens" seems to be descended from the interior ship design in 2001: A Space Odyssey. That is, a mix of sleek utilitarianism, cold ironic futurism, and a touch of 60's mod.

    2. Scrunchies are sorta like cock rings for your hair.

    I always assumed the band "Felony" that is featured in GRADUATION DAY was different from the one-hit wonder, psuedo Police ripoff band that did "Fanatic". Lo and behold, through the magic of internet research, I have learned that they ARE the same band, despite sounding nothing alike. They also contributed the song "(I'm No) Animal" to the FRIDAY THE !#TH PART 6 soundtrack.

    Here's a review of Felony's performance in GRADUATION DAY, courtesy of Youtube:

    "The only good part of this movie was the performance by Felony and Lead singer Jeffrey Scott Spry. I totally loved this song, "The Gangster Rock". Totally rocks, I loved it, better than anything else out there! Fuck anyone who don't like Felony!"

    For the record, my favorite look might've been the baseball jersey. Picking just one is tough as balls though.

    Thanks to this review, I will be crooning aloud the theme song: LOOOOOOONELYYYYYY LADY...OOOOOOOOONLEYYYYYY, YOU CAN HELP YOURSEEEEEELF...
    If my cat's ears explode as a result, I will blame you.

    Jerilee's closing speech should be in the pantheon of great movie speeches, a notch below "I'm mad as hell" from NETWORK.

    The male version of this movie is THE OSCAR (1966), similarly hitting the soap opera camp strike zone, but never achieving the delirious and majestic heights of THE LONELY LADY, and lacking Pia's feisty spunk and fashion sense.

    So, in closing, THE LONELY LADY is the VALLEY OF THE DOLLS of the 80's, and fuck anyone who disagrees.

  3. @thedrynessflows: Yeah, I can do that. It's a good idea, actually.

    Links to all my entries can be found here, where you'll find one for The Holy Mountain.

    @Thomas Duke: "Within the scrunchie sciences." The scrunchie sciences!!! I'm sorry, I just like the way the word "scrunchie" looks next to the pluralization of "science."

    Any cock'll do!

    Felony's "The Fanatic" is actually played twice in The Lonely Lady; it's heard again during one of the scenes at Kicks.

    Oh, and "The Fanatic" is also featured in Valley Girl.

    Yeah, Pia looked playful yet tough in Dodger blue. Speaking of blue, the blue and white gingham number is my current fave Pia TLL look (though it changes all the time).

    You croon?!? Anyway, try to keep it to a low roar, cats have sensitive hearing.

    I just watched the Network speech the other day, so, yeah, I totally agree.

    Bring on the Fake-Out, a.k.a. Nevada Heat!

  4. thnx for the reply and the links. should've said before, I love the site.

  5. Sapphic Residue was gonna be the name of my next band!

    Great review. One more reminder why I adore your blog.

    Is this your first review where every single single screen shot features the lead actress? If so, then deservedly, I'd say.

    Carry on, Yums.

  6. During Sapphic Residue open for Black Flag during the farewell tour? If not, I can totally picture a band with a name like that opening for them.

    Thanks, Russ.

    Excellent question. Let me see... Oh, I recall my Eugenie de Sade entry being very heavy on the Soledad Miranda screen shots, as well as a Tina Romero surplus in my recent Alucarda entry. However, I can't think of any others (I added a pic of Susan Saiger to my Eating Raoul entry, thus breaking the Mary Woronov monopoly).

  7. I love this movie so much. I have the soundtrack on vinyl! :D In her interview for John Waters' Crackpot, he noted that she often threatened suicide (jokingly) if this was ever sold to network television.

  8. She shouldn't joke about such things, Pia's a national treasure. ;)

    Nice use of the phrase of "battered urethras." :D

    Oh, and, hey, I just noticed that we re-blogged the same Tumblr post; the gal who runs deadvodka is freaking gorgeous.

  9. Thanks :) I wrote that originally for Shocking Videos, and that phrase appears to be a home run all around. Alanna really is stunning, but no matter how often I politely remind her, she remains humble. She may be the only person I know who wants internet stalkers.

    I've been neglecting blogger for too long now. It's good to be wallowing in your prolific puddles of devilish details

  10. I know Shocking Videos (they have a great selection of trashy cinema - their so-called gay section is my fave).

    I'm glad to hear that you regularly remind her of how stunning she is.

    Student Confidential looks kinda rad. I mean, the New York Times calls it "Strange and Arty." :D

    I love "prolific puddles."

  11. It's going to be on blu ray this June...