From: Subject: Date: April 21, 2005 3:53:51 PM CDT Hankblog

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Movie Retrospectives: Bombs Away Week
The Defendant: Myra Breckenridge

Description of the defendant:
Please be aware I am not making this plot up. This was greenlit, and filmed, 34 years ago. Someone somewhere thought this would be a good idea.

Myron Breckenridge (actor turned film critic Rex Reed) has a sex change operation at the beginning of the film, which turns him into Myra Breckenridge (Raquel Welch). Myra has a single purpose in life. She wants to completely reshape societal concepts of masculinity and femininity in order to elevate humanity to the next level sexually. She hopes to accomplish this by worming her way into control of the acting school being run by her Uncle Buck Loner (John Huston). In her capacity as teacher and shaper of the next superstars to grace Hollywood, she feels like she can redefine societal norms by changing the behavior of those they will aspire to be in the future. She also wouldn't mind putting the screws to Buck, since he's kept the fact that half the school is Myron/Myra's by inheritance a very well guarded secret. Myra decides once she's in the school that the best candidates for her plot are young stud actor Rusty Godowski (nobody actor Roger Herron) and his girlfriend Mary Ann (a very young Farrah Fawcett). The way she must execute her plot? Seducing each one of them, of course.

Crimes against moviegoing humanity:
Grotesque overuse of old film clips in montage format - Director Michael Sarne felt it would be a creative way to convey the thoughts of the various characters at key moments symbolically by intercutting the films action with clips from other films. This is a technique that was used to great effect by an old TV series on HBO called Dream On. There, the film clips punctuated the humor of the situations in Dream On by finding just the right clips that would express indirectly the exact feeling of the characters in the moment. In Myra, Sarne exhibits no such sense of style or timing. The problem is visible in the first 5 minutes of the movie, shortly after the sex change. As Welch's voiceover gives us our first insight in to Myra's mindset, we're shown clips from Welch's breakthrough film One Million Years B.C. This was the movie that made her THE hot pinup girl, and the fantasy object of millions of lustful young men. And after giving that tease, you turn her into the transsexual byproduct of Rex Reed? That's like showing a man sirloin steak, and then feeding him Alpo. What the hell?
Casting Mae West as a sexpot talent the age of 77 - There's no doubt that Mae West was the embodiment of sexuality in the 1930s. She was Marilyn before Marilyn came along, and she didn't even try to put the innocent front on it. Doing that in your 30s is fine. I personally don't even have issue with older women playing that kind of role if the still look the part. Ann-Margret was still stunning at 52 in Grumpy Old Men. Sophia Loren was likewise at 61 in the sequel. But Mae didn't look half that good at 77. Not a quarter. I mean...try and imagine what Anna Nicole Smith is going to look like at 77, if she lives that long. Scary isn't it? And then at about 2/3 of the way into the movie, have her break out into a rendition of Hard to Handle (a song today's generation may know best as a hit from the Black Crowes). Deeply disturbing.
John Huston losing a fair amount of dignity - He spends most of the movie running around in a getup that looks like it's stolen from Dallas Cowboy's uberfan Crazy Ray. Super oversized cowboy hat and everything. I mean, John...Whatt the hell?
Managing to make the potential for a girl girl love scene between Raquel Welch and Farah Fawcett seem completely unappealing - I am not kidding. What a tragic waste.
Forcing the audience to witness Raquel Welch nailing Roger Herron with a strap on - Yeah, THAT'S a good trade off...not.
A script so disjointed, it's like watching four different movies simultaneously - Don't know if drugs were at fault for that, but they wouldn't have helped you follow the movie any better I don't think. Booze sure doesn't.

Guilt/shame by association:
John Huston - By the time this movie was released, Huston had been nominated for an Oscar 13 times as either actor, director, or writer, winning two (both for Treasure of Sierra Madre). There is no way I can imagine the man could possibly be resting in peace in his grave knowing that his name is tied to this dreck in any way.
Mae West - Should have let her memory stay comfortably as we knew her in her thirties, not tarnishing it by looking like the lecherous nympho grandmother from hell.
Farrah Fawcett and Tom Selleck (who has a small cameo)
- Very early film appearances for both. Should be forgiven since it got them work and resume material to become stars in their own right eventually. But I'm sure they'd both just as soon forget it (and in Farah's case, based on her Letterman appearances, she may very well have, along with a lot of other things).
Gore Vidal - Wrote the source novel, but quickly disavowed himself of any connection to this movie once he saw what Sarne put together. His name still appears on the title card. I'm surprised he hasn't sued to have it digitally erased.

Best awful line:
An exchange between Myron and his surgeon at the start of the movie:
Surgeon: We'll have to blow up your tits with silicon.
Myron: I thought they used paraffin.
Surgeon: No! That would make them flammable! You don't want flammable tits, now, do you?
That's as smart as this movie gets.

Time served:
No measureable activity on since this movie predates the internet. Same with the Razzies.
3.5 Stars out of 10 on based on only 314 votes. It's a positive sign that that few internet users have actually seen this piece of crap. I'm ashamed to say I've seen it twice now.

Best critical line on Rotten Tomatoes:

Any mitigating circumstances or good behavior?:
Not a damn thing.

Sentence issued:
If I had a choice between using an AOL CDROM I got in the mail, or a DVD of this movie, as a coaster on my coffee table, I'd use the AOL CD, because I don't want this piece of trash dirtying my glasses. I wouldn't use this DVD for skeet shooting, as it might violate EPA regs for hazardous waste. This movie is without a doubt the biggest waste of anybody's time that Hollywood has ever put out there. When I think the most positive thing I can say about it is that it only lasts for 94 minutes, that is about as low as I go. Even the remake of The House on Haunted Hill, which had me begging the theatre manager for a refund on the two hours of my life I lost to it has more positive things to be said about it than Myra has going on. Unfunny, uninteresting, unsexy, and just flat out bad. The putrid cherry on the top of this week of really awful cinema.

Starting Monday, in the spirit of the release of Kill Bill Vol. 1 on DVD, and Vol. 2 theatrically, the film theme is "Chicks Kick Ass" week. Tune in tomorrow for Aliens.