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Myra Breckinridge (1970)

by on 2012/12/23

myra_breckinridge_1970“He’s the last stronghold of masculinity in this Disneyland of perversion.”

* *

Hacker Renders had this idea once to start a Bad Film Club with some folks at work. We soon realized, however, that having lots of other random people in one’s home is highly over-rated.

So the idea was scrapped. We wandered off toward other, shinier ideas.

But not before I bought Myra Breckinridge as an act of good (bad film) faith.

It sat on the shelf, Raquel Welch in her star-spangled bathing suit staring slackly at me. For years.

Yes, I read stuff about it. I knew it was bad. According to some commentators, it may well be one of the worst films ever made. But none of those warnings really prepared me for actually seeing it with my own eyes.

In fact, it was exactly like that old movie trope where the new person in town moves into a house all the locals say is terribly cursed. Cursed, I tells ya.

But does the new person in town listen? No, not with their new person city ways, book learning and whatnot.

It was exactly like that. But scarier.

Pointless nudity, awful performances, weird-for-the-sake-of-weird non sequiturs, all interspersed with black-and-white film footage of superior films, including, Shirley Temple’s Heidi. This film is a disturbing, disturbing mess.

Playing a role created by Gore Vidal in his satirical novel of the same name, Raquel Welch plays a post-op transgendered female with a hate on for men. She’s on the take – with a mascara’ed and thickly-lined eye on her uncle Buck Loner’s fortune. Buck Loner is played (ridiculously) by the great John Huston (The Maltese Falcon), his character owns an acting school called the Buck Loner Academy.

Claiming to be the widow of Buck’s nephew Myron played by film critic Rex Reed, Myra finagles a job from Uncle Buck at the acting school in place of an inheritance.

Mae West is in this train wreck as well. And no disrespect to the late Ms. West, in this film, she looks like the mummified remains of the film great in a long, white wig. West plays Leticia, a casting agent who doesn’t have a casting couch, she has a commodious casting bed. I’ll bet Tom Selleck wishes Myra Breckinridge wasn’t his film debut, particularly the scene where 76-year-old West has her way with him and he emerges from his “audition” with his double-breasted suit done up wrong.

Once you’ve watched that, you can’t unwatch it.

That was a high point. Another was the bit where Raquel Welch pegs a prone student named “Rusty,” played by Roger Herren, on a hospital gurney. Yes, that really happened too.

There are a crazy number of names in this X-rated film. In addition to Welch, Huston and West, the film features Farrah Fawcett (Logan’s Run), John Carradine (Stagecoach), Dan Hedaya (Blood Simple) and Toni Basil, she of “Mickey” pop song fame.

Despite a star-studded cast, elaborate sets, outlandish costumes, sex and nudity, Myra Breckinridge, directed by Michael Sarne, was a complete bore. An awful, offensive bore.

I felt bad for everyone involved. I felt bad for me.

I can’t say I wasn’t warned.

* *

94 minutes

Rated X – for cross it off your ‘to-watch’ list forever

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