I think that seeing "Kitten With a Whip" on the big screen would be grand, but most of the films in this festival are really, really painful to me...
The American Cinematheque proudly gives Southern California audiences the opportunity to see some of the most important and artistic films from around the world -- but not this week. Join Playboy's Stephen Rebello and MSNBC.com's Alonso Duralde for five nights of some of the most entertainingly awful movies ever made. From disco ineptness (XANADU, STAYING ALIVE) and fashion faux pas (MAHOGANY, A NEW KIND OF LOVE) to bad girls (KITTEN WITH A WHIP, THE LONELY LADY) and a Hollywood musical that helped temporarily kill the Hollywood musical (LOST HORIZON), these are the movies that you want to cringe through again and again, preferably surrounded by evil-minded close friends. And just to prove that, yes, they still make them as awful as they used to, don't miss contemporary stinkburgers and recent additions to the bad-movie pantheon GLITTER and FROM JUSTIN TO KELLY. Screenings will include discussions with Rebello, Duralde and special surprise guests. Got something in your closet to compete with the neon kimonos of MAHOGANY or the sky-high purple wigs of A NEW KIND OF LOVE? Compete in our "More Is More" fashion show for prizes and the bragging rights of walking the runway in L.A.'s most over-the-top couture! Authors Stephen Rebello and Alonso Duralde will also be signing and selling their books - including Stephen's Reel Art - Great Posters from the Golden Age of the Silver Screen, Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho and Bad Movies We Love and Alonso's 101 Must-See Movies for Gay Men -- on each night.
Thursday, August 13 - 7:30 PM
KITTEN WITH A WHIP, 1964, Universal, 83 min. Long
before sultry young wildcat Ann-Margret proved she could really act, she proved she couldn't with this laugh-out-loud bad-girl cult classic all about, as the ads read: "Jody ... the kicks she digs ... the swingers she runs with ... and the special kind of hell she can make for a man!" A-M plays a schizy juvenile-hall escapee who holds rising politician and married suburbanite John Forsythe ("Dynasty") captive in his home, smearing lipstick across a framed photo of his wife and pouting, posing, bumpin' and grindin' with her pretty-boy thug pals Peter Brown and Skip Ward (MYRA BRECKINRIDGE). Directed by veteran TV helmer Douglas Heyes ("The Twilight Zone") from his screenplay based on a novel by Wade Miller (who also wrote the novel on which legendary lost noir, GUILTY BYSTANDER, was based), KITTEN WITH A WHIP is jam-packed with faux-Beat dialogue, jazzed up by a sexy TOUCH OF EVIL-esque music score, and set afire by Ann-Margret at her snarly, vampy jailbait zenith. This one demands to be worshipped on the big screen - and we don't mean in the remake Lindsay Lohan threatens to star in.
THE LONELY LADY, 1983, Universal, 92 min. Pia
Zadora reaches bad-movie Nirvana in this tale of a would-be screenwriter who gets abused by every man who crosses her path, from garden-hose-wielding teen rapist Ray Liotta to impotent older husband Lloyd Bochner to sleazy nightclub owner Joseph Cali. Eventually, in this howlingly ludicrous adaptation of the Harold Robbins potboiler, she puts aside her Vietnam script to write a scandalous tell-all, leading her to an awards show where she memorably tells the crowd, "I'm not the only one who's had to f--- her way to the top!" There's not a costume, a prop, a performance or line of dialogue in THE LONELY LADY that isn't side-splittingly hilarious -- no one will be seated during the shocking (and ridiculously over-the-top) nervous-breakdown sequence, during which Zadora takes a fully clothed shower, followed by typewriter keys and the faces of those who've wronged her spinning around her head. Ineptly directed by Peter Sasdy (TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA), this epic stinker was a multiple winner at the Razzie Awards, which in 2005 nominated it as one of the worst dramas ever made. Introduction by film critic for MSNBC.com Alonso Duralde author of 101 Must-See Movies for Gay Men -and Stephen Rebello (Playboy) author of Bad Movies We Love.
Friday, August 14 - 7:30 PM
XANADU, 1980, Universal, 93 min. Dir. Robert Greenwald.
Someone needs to commission a study on why 1980 brought us the brilliantly bad musical triptych comprised of CAN'T STOP THE MUSIC, THE APPLE and arguably the daffiest of the bunch, XANADU. Grafting '40s-style movie whimsy onto late '70s Muzak to spawn a whole new hybrid - discokitsch - XANADU stars Olivia Newton-John (GREASE) as a muse sent down to earth to inspire directionless artist Michael Beck (THE WARRIORS) to open a roller-disco nightclub funded by aging, lonely moneybags Gene Kelly (SINGIN' IN THE RAIN). The movie cements its place in the pantheon of brilliantly bad cinema courtesy of a production number that features the legendary Kelly dancing across the screen as a giant pinball on a pinball game set and another that sticks him in a zoot suit while Beck cavorts in an electric orange jumpsuit. Ah, the '80s. Featuring seeing-is-believing roller skating numbers, animation by Don Bluth (AN AMERICAN TAIL), a killer soundtrack featuring the No.1 hit "Magic," XANADU, a floppola on its release, has morphed into such a beloved cult fave that it inspired a Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical. With Sandahl Bergman and the voices of Coral Browne and Wilfred Hyde-White.
STAYING ALIVE, 1983, Paramount, 96 min. John
Travolta may have been smart enough to duck a reunion with GREASE co-star Olivia Newton-John in XANADU, but he wasn't smart enough to resist teaming with director-screenwriter Sylvester Stallone on this jaw-droppingly campy, overblown SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER sequel. Travolta's straight-out-of-Brooklyn galoot character Tony Manero has become a rebellious Broadway gypsy who, when cast in a new musical, gets warned by mother Julie Bovasso, "Tony, keep your clothes on!" Nothing doing. Travolta pumped up for the movie under the special direction of Stallone, and he struts his pecs wearing Bob Mackie's next-to-nothing costumes in some of the goofiest faux-Fosse musical numbers ever committed to celluloid. The breathtaking egotism on display in STAYING ALIVE puts it right up there with Streisand's FUNNY LADY as the kind of sequel that almost makes you embarrassed you fell for its star in the first place. With Finola Hughes ("General Hospital") and Cynthia Rhodes (DIRTY DANCING). Introduction by film critic for MSNBC.com Alonso Duralde author of 101 Must-See Movies for Gay Men -and Stephen Rebello (Playboy) author of Bad Movies We Love.
Saturday, August 15 - 7:30 PM
MAHOGANY, 1975, Paramount, 109 min. Oscar-winning director Tony
Richardson (TOM JONES, THE LOVED ONE) began directing Diana Ross in this quintessentially kitschy money-changes-everything soap opera but, luckily for Richardson, he soon got replaced by Ross' personal Svengali, Motown head and producer Berry Gordy. Fresh off her Oscar-nominated triumph in LADY SINGS THE BLUES, Ross this time plays an ambitious beauty rising from a Chicago 'hood to become a rich, deliciously decadent international supermodel. Our glam heroine soon learns that la dolce vita isn't what it's cracked up to be from the likes of twitchy bisexual photographer Anthony Perkins (in an exultant hoot of a performance) before finding redemption with straight- arrow politician Billy Dee Williams. Sure, MAHOGANY conveys a female-empowerment message, but it's really all about Diana learning that "Success is nothing without someone you love to share it with" while traipsing around wearing transcendently awful "creations" (that she actually designed and wanted credit for!) while the hit "Do You Know Where You're Going To?" plays relentlessly on the soundtrack. A wiggy, wonderful compendium of '70s movie-star-run-amok cliches, MAHOGANY co-stars Beah Richards (GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER) and Marisa Mell (DANGER: DIABOLIK).
A NEW KIND OF LOVE, 1963, Paramount, 110 min.
Dir. Melville Shavelson. Playboy newspaperman Paul Newman can't stand fashion buyer Joanne Woodward when she's got a mannish haircut, but after she spends an afternoon at Elizabeth Arden -- and comes out looking like a drag queen -- he goes gaga. Between New Look fashion shows by Lanvin (who gets a "Perfumes by" credit!), Dior and Givenchy, Woodward convinces Newman that she's actually an international call girl, and he turns her made-up decadent adventures into awful, sports-metaphor-filled newspaper columns that somehow save his job. Ridiculously sexist -- Newman's first line to Woodward is "Excuse me, sir" -- A NEW KIND OF LOVE is the kind of misogyny-packed Hollywood bauble that leaves modern audiences shocked and amused. Set in Paris, the film turns the City of Lights into the City of Process Shots on the Paramount backlot. Proof that even the greatest stars can be miscast -- and that real-life lovers often have zero on-screen chemistry -- A NEW KIND OF LOVE mixes over-the-top fashion with a lulu of a supporting cast, including Eva Gabor ("Green Acres"), Thelma Ritter (ALL ABOUT EVE), Maurice Chevalier (playing himself) and Robert Clary ("Hogan's Heroes"). You won't believe your eyes. Wear your tacky '70s duds and come participate in our "More is More" Fashion Show at 7:00 PM! Trailer Introduction by film critic for MSNBC.com Alonso Duralde author of 101 Must-See Movies for Gay Men -and Stephen Rebello (Playboy) author of Bad Movies We Love.
Sunday, August 16 - 7:30 PM
LOST HORIZON, 1973, Sony Repertory, 150 min. Dir. Charles
Jarrott. What was missing from director Frank Capra's prestigious 1937 screen version of James Hilton's novel about a planeload of passengers crash-landing into a magical mountaintop utopian Shangri-La? Why, songs and musical numbers by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, that's what, performed by actors who can't sing or dance. Or at least mega-successful movie producer Ross Hunter (IMITATION OF LIFE, AIRPORT) must have thought so, because he spent zillions casting Peter Finch (NETWORK), Liv Ullman (PERSONA), Sally Kellerman (M*A*S*H), Michael York (CABARET), James Shigeta (FLOWER DRUM SONG), George Kennedy (AIRPORT) and others in this legendary crackpot 1973 movie version set in what looks like a Liberace theme park where everyone's on Prozac. Unavailable on DVD (write Congress now), LOST HORIZON - all 150 delirious minutes of it -- is the mood ring of bad movie musicals, choreographed by Fred Astaire collaborator Hermes Pan and scripted by none other than playwright and LGBT activist Larry Kramer (THE NORMAL HEART). Introduction by film critic for MSNBC.com Alonso Duralde author of 101 Must-See Movies for Gay Men -and Stephen Rebello (Playboy) author of Bad Movies We Love.
Wednesday, August 19 - 7:30 PM
GLITTER, 2001, 20th Century Fox, 104 min. Dir. Vondie
Curtis-Hall. "The glitter can't overpower the artist!" yells a character in this disastrous star vehicle, but when the artist is Mariah Carey, totally at sea playing a young singer on the rise, just about anything on screen can subdue her. Carey's Billie Frank weeps over her longtime separation from her boozy mother (Valarie Pettiford), who drunkenly burned down their house years ago. With the help of "fly DJ" Dice (Max Beesley), Billie climbs the charts while writing songs about mom that require her to come up with a rhyme for "closure." While Carey gives a singularly inert lead performance, actors like the hammy Terrence Howard (as a rival music producer), the hilarious Ann Magnuson (whose publicist character is the only one in the movie who got the memo that it's set in the '80s) and icy future "Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi steal the movie. Comedian Frank DeCaro famously noted, regarding this fall 2001 release, "If you never thought you'd laugh again after 9/11, go see GLITTER."
FROM JUSTIN TO KELLY, 2003, 20th Century
Fox, 81 min. Dir. Robert Iscove. When "American Idol" instantly became a huge hit on TV, it made perfect sense that audiences would want to see a romantic-comedy musical starring Season One finalists Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini, right? Wrong. The director of SHE'S ALL THAT and the writer of SPICE WORLD teamed up for this on-the-cheap, on-the-quick Spring Break extravaganza (obviously filmed when it was too cold for swimsuits) about a Texas waitress and the "King of Spring Break," whose budding romance in Fort Lauderdale is stymied by misdirected text messages. Also along for the ride is Anika Noni Rose, who somehow survived this dud and went on to co-star in the DREAMGIRLS movie and to win a Tony for "Caroline, or Change." (Clarkson's stellar musical career endured this early misstep as well.) From the beach-towel-centric musical number on the sand to the questionable cover version of KC and the Sunshine Band's "That's the Way I Like It" to, they still make dopey teen exploitation flicks like they used to. Introduction by film critic for MSNBC.com Alonso Duralde author of 101 Must-See Movies for Gay Men -and Stephen Rebello (Playboy) author of Bad Movies We Love.
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American Cinematheque at the
Lloyd E. Rigler Egyptian Theatre
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