"I am Myra Breckinridge, whom no man will ever possess. The new woman whose astonishing history started with a surgeon's scalpel, and will end... who-knows-where...Who is Myra Breckinridge? What is she? Myra Breckinridge is a dish, and don't you ever forget it, you motherfuckers—as the children say nowadays."
This 1970 film stars Mae West, Raquel Welch, John Huston, and Farrah Fawcett.
It is about a man who gets a sex change operation and turns into a gorgeous bombshell of a woman.
Sounds like the greatest film in the entire world, right?
You are wrong. So, so wrong.
Rian and I made this mistake when we picked up Myra Breckinridge from the library the other day.
It is one of the worst movies in the world.
Where do I even begin?
This X-rated film tries so hard to be avant-garde that it falls off the tracks into a gigantic wreck.
It is simply too chaotic, with no transition. There are dozens of classic film clips inserted randomly throughout the movie. There are scenes which have no meaning and don't belong.
It is awkwardly sadistic, with scenes that are supposed to be poignant but only end up cringe-worthy.
Mae West is a disaster and she only appears for 15 minutes or so, although she is topped billed. The Hollywood legend, at 75 years old, plays a sex-addicted Hollywood talent agent who randomly sings an awful song for no reason in the middle of the film. It is so horrific, it is almost comedic. I cringed as the senior citizen lewdly spewed lines such as, "Don't forget to remind me about the policeman's balls - I mean police show!"
Ironically (and sadly), this film was Mae's first return to movies in almost 30 years. It was supposed to jumpstart her career. It didn't.
I am incredibly disappointed that this movie was such an epic failure because it had all the potential of being a kick-ass film.
Myra Breckinridge was the screen version of the best-selling 1960s novel of the same name. The book was a phenomenal hit at the time, almost defining the sexual revolution with its naked portrait of homosexuality and a gender-bending society. Studio executives had hoped the movie would do the famous book justice.
The film was also supposed to be the spectacular debut of Raquel Welch's acting abilities. Instead, it ended up ruining her career.
After seeing a documentary about Myra Breckinridge, I discovered the making of it was even more disastrous than the film itself!
Studio executives chose Michael Sarne, a 20-something-year-old hippie, to direct the film, even though he barely had any film experience. They hoped his youth and coolness factor would make the film a hip new hit for 20th Century Fox.
Unfortunately, the kid was overwhelmed by the entire experience. He was intimidated by his famous cast, he was too timid to contradict the studio or producer, and he naively spent too much time filming scenes that had nothing to do with the content of the film.
The cast despised him and unsuccessfully rallied to get him fired.
Mae West caused havoc on the set by being openly jealous of her much younger and beautiful costar, Raquel Welch. She was cold to her between takes, refused to be in any frame of film with her, and even tried to steal her wardrobe.
The cast members were terribly unhappy with the script and during filming, they openly voiced their discontent to anyone who would listen, whether it was a lawyer or journalist.
When Gore Vidal, the author of the book, saw the film, he was humiliated and disgusted.
Plus, numerous legendary Hollywood stars, from Shirley Temple to Loretta Young, successfully sued the filmmakers for using clips of them in the X-rated movie.
When the film was released, it was so bad, it shocked viewers and film critics around the world. It was (and still is) considered one of the worst films ever made. 20th Century Fox executives admitted later on that the film was so bad, it almost destroyed the entire studio.
Michael Sarne never made another movie again and it was even heavily rumored that he ended up being a waiter in a pizzeria only a few years after his box-office disaster was released.
I am so intrigued with the behind-the-scenes story, I totally think there should be a movie about the making of the movie!
Anyway, save a couple hours of your life and don't watch this film. It's just not worth it.
(If you want to see an awesome avant-garde film from the 1960s, I highly suggest Petulia. It's one of my faves.)
PS. Don't forget to enter my Shabby Apple Dress giveaway!
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