Monday, August 9, 2010

Myra Breckinridge, Leah Garchik and The Color of Upholstery

Raquel Welch in Myra BreckinridgeI was able to see, for the first time, Myra Breckinridge at the Castro in July. The camp classic was better than I expected. The film is routinely listed among the worst films ever made. I can certainly understand the controversy it provoked but I'm surprised that its stock hasn't risen in the 40 years since its release.

Any film can be improved by a 30 year old Raquel Welch parading around in her infamous stars and stripe costume. Viewed 40 years after it originally shocked audiences, I thought the camp in Myra Breckinridge still shined bright. Certainly, Welch acquits herself adequately as the post-operative transsexual whose goal is the "destruction of the American male in all its particulars." With flattering wardrobes and an understated approach, Welch puts some sex appeal & humor into Myra Breckinridge. Even Mae West's schtick is appropriate for her role and the film. Similarly, John Huston gives his old lecher character some panache. What's there to complain about? Well, Myra Breckinridge sodomizes a young man with a strap-on dildo. She also seduces Farrah Fawcett. Most of the humor is crude.

I felt the film was an entertaining way to spend 90 minutes. There is no accounting for taste though. John Carradine has a memorable cameo as the surgeon at the beginning of the film. Rex Reed plays Myron Breckinridge, Myra's pre-operative self or alter-ego depending on one's interpretation of the plot.

Myra Breckinridge starring Raquel Welch, John Huston & Mae West; (1970)


I've noticed that San Francisco Chronicle columnist Leah Garchik often runs items in her column from various film festivals in the Bay Area. She must be a cinephile or have a source who is. It's strange to see events I have witnessed described in the newspaper.


Having seen so many films at Viz Cinema lately, I wonder why all the seats in the theater are a pale, mustard color except for a handful (perhaps one or two per row) which are orange/red and slightly different in texture.

Viz also moved the theater box office to the basement, directly in front of the screening room. I think that is a good idea. Before, tickets were purchased at the coffee bar on the ground floor which I thought was odd. Perhaps they should consider selling snacks more appropriate to a (Japanese?) movie theater in the basement too.

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