Now, somewhat unfortunately I must have been concentrating so hard to attain my higher level of consciousness that I broke my brain, because the psychedelic satire “Putney Swope” was lost to me. The rest of the peanut gallery did seem to enjoy it more than “Myra Breckinridge” although my boyfriend, a hardcore Russ Meyer nut, declared that he preferred his satire with gore and boobies. The plot, again was kinda hard to follow but it dealt with the token African American employee of an advertising firm named Putney Swope being voted the new boss (no one else thought anyone would vote for him), then replacing all of the old white men with his somewhat militant black friends and renaming the company “Truth and Soul.” Oh, and there’s a midget President.
Adding to the psychedelic effect of the film, shot in black and white on a “tv playhouse budget”; was the fact that the lead actor’s voice was dubbed over by director Robert Downey Sr. The end result was that he ended up looking and sounding kinda like a black Red Green as our friend Graeme noted. The rest of the film was marked by exclamations of “What happened?”, “The pain! The pain!”, and “I’m profoundly disturbed. That was awesome.” Only three of us made it to the end of “Putney Swope”, and those of us who could follow it (I wasn’t one of them, but I tried. I really did.) did like it although they conceded that it was really dated.
Rumblings from the peanut gallery: The final consensus on “Myra Breckinridge” was that, while not a movie they would watch again, most people were glad that they got to see it. However, some of them did suggest subtitles that just said “what the fuck?” and flashed for the duration of the film. Also, some people have decided that their new code for sex will be “a Buck Loner special” after John Huston’s character and that the lack of Tom Selleck’s moustache makes it “the worst Tom Seleck movie ever.” The other main topic of discussion was the fact that this was yet another film we watched where a scene of anal rape resulted in the victim “turning” gay. The famous scene where Raquel Welch rides Roger Herren like a bucking bronco elicited shouts of “Spetters!” in reference to the Paul Verhoeven movie, specifically the German trailer where all the action scenes were interrupted by lighting bolt animation like the ’60’s Batman tv show and the voice over man in his best monster truck voice shouting “Spetters!” (the trailer is included on the MGM DVD, I highly recommend it if you are at all a fan). In fact, since watching “Spetters”, all scenes or situations (on film and in real life) that could be read as vaguely homoerotic illicit such shouts.
Those of us who were left also really enjoyed the interview with Robert Downey Sr. included on the Rhino release of “Putney Swope” which provided some good context for the making of the film. Not being familiar with his work, I found it interesting that despite his high profile he’s still considered an underground filmmaker and still has trouble securing financing. Although I’m pretty sure I felt my brains ooze out of my skull while watching “Putney,” it certainly intrigued me enough to want to check out more of his films.
Next Week, an Argento double bill: “Suspiria” and “Bird With the Crystal Plumage.”
Mariko McDonald and her boyfriend host a weekly film night in their apartment, affectionately known as the Den of Sin. It’s kinda like evil film school. Monthly screening schedules are available at http:filmgurlland.blogspot.com and if you happen to live in the Vancouver, BC area and are interested in catching a screening please drop her a line at filmgurl79@hotmail dot com. Suggestions, hate mail and cute pictures of cats also accepted.
And of course you can always offer up some juicy Back Talk>>>
Posted on April 15, 2004 in Features by Mariko McDonald
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