ENTER THE DEN OF SIN: MOVIES THAT MAKE YOU GO HUH?

Despite my apprehension about last week’s program (which was proved to be completely unfounded), I think my choice in programming this week was truly one of the riskier moves I’ve made since we started movie night. Hell, even my boyfriend looked at me with an expression best described as terror when I announced my choices for this week. But damn it, it was my turn to program and I chose to be a little self indulgent and program something that could turn out to be a complete turkey. Everyone else was just going to have to bear with me.

It was a small turnout again this week (stupid school) with only five people in attendance, my boyfriend and I included. I felt especially guilty since I was the only girl in attendance and did not know if the boys would be that into a Hollywood train wreck about gender politics. Then again, it stars Raquel Welch so they couldn’t hate me that much, could they? Being that my sister is still angry with me for subjecting her to “Can’t Stop the Music” (the Village People movie with Steve Guttenberg) nearly ten years ago, I really couldn’t be sure.

For those of you not familiar with it, “Myra Breckinridge” is considered one of the most notorious films to come out of Hollywood. Ever. It was rated X, made no sense and contained some of the most outrageous situations put into a mainstream movie. It starred film critic Rex Reed, Raquel Welch and a 75 plus Mae West playing her usual sex pot character seducing a moustachless Tom Selleck. I think my boyfriend summed it up by declaring it “pretentious camp.”

We were closer to starting on time than in previous weeks, even if my boyfriend did insist on a smoke break before the film started so that he could steel himself up for it. However, not even a scant five minutes in we needed to stop for what I would call a “plot break,” a process which was repeated every 5 -10 minutes for the first half hour until everyone else gave up. To be honest, it was taking so much energy for me to attempt to follow the “plot” that I didn’t dare give up my concentration to enlighten anyone else. From what I was able to follow, Myron Breckinridge (Rex Reed!) undergoes a sex change operation to become Myra Breckinridge (Raquel Welch!), then goes to her/his uncle’s acting school (the uncle is played by John Huston!) posing as his/her own widow to try to claim his/her inheritance equal to half of the acting school or 1 million dollars. However, Myra’s true mission, or at least what she keeps babbling on about, is the subversion of the sexes. Or something. Frankly, describing it any further would be pretty pointless since this is a movie that needs to be experienced to be appreciated. Maybe appreciated is the wrong word. I think the peanut gallery’s reaction was captured best by the following exchange:

Friend #1: Was this popular when it came out?

Boyfriend: No.

Friend #2: Good.

I, however, must have been concentrating so hard that I ascended to a higher zen-like plain where all understanding was granted to me, since I actually really liked the movie. It was either that or the drugs. The biggest problem to me seems to be that the film is about 30 years ahead of its time. The things which are being critiqued had only just started to happen when the film was made, so the irreverent tone doesn’t seem to fit. While the “plot” is probably about sexual politics, the film itself is more a criticism of the new permissiveness the film ratings system had brought in (which it took advantage of) from the standpoint of someone who still celebrated the “Golden Age” of movies, specifically between 1935 – 1945 when the so called “Hay’s Code” was at the height of its power. Then again, I may have just been mesmerized by how cute Rex Reed was. I seriously had no idea.

Time for another smoke break before we bring out the Swope>>>




Posted on April 14, 2004 in Features by

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