Cinema: Some Sort of Nadir

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Myra Breckinridge is about as funny as a child molester. It is an insult to intelligence, an affront to sensibility and an abomination to the eye. Based on Gore Vidal's sordid little sex-change novel, the movie took nine months and at least $5,000,000 to make and spawned more tales of cast warfare than any film since The Night of the Iguana. The result is an incoherent tale of sodomy, emasculation, autoeroticism and plain bad taste.

As probably everyone in the world but a few Tibetan monks knows by now, the story concerns a Myron who becomes a Myra after a transsexual operation. He-she determines to conquer Hollywood and devastate mankind. After Myron (Rex Reed) opens the proceedings by having himself castrated, Raquel Welch takes over as Myra. With Myron tagging along as her altered ego, she then lights out for Hollywood to claim half of an acting school owned by Myron's uncle, Buck Loner (John Huston). Once she implants herself as a teacher there, she decides to initiate her program of conquest of the male by sexually humiliating a Cro-Magnon pupil named Rusty Godowsky (Roger Herren). That task done, in a scene so tasteless that it represents some sort of nadir in American cinema, she fobs Rusty off on a horny old talent agent (Mae West) and puts a light finishing touch on her dark enterprise by trying to seduce Rusty's girl friend (Farrah Fawcett).

Pendulous Philosophy. There is a little something here to set everyone's gorge agurgling. There is Mae West, grinding her ancient hips in a grotesque parody of bygone eroticism; her entire accomplishment consists of dreary one-liners about bed and phalli. There is John Huston, demeaning himself as the slob-gutted, sagebrush sybarite. There is Rex Reed, whose debut as an actor is on a par with the best line the scriptwriter could give him to scream: "Where are my tits?" There is Raquel herself, who wanders about in virtual unemployment, spouting pendulous philosophy á la Vidal and a lot of pointlessly dirty words. She struggles desperately to parody herself but only sinks deeper and deeper into the bog around her.

Michael Same, Myra's director and coauthor, deserves special discredit for the repulsive dildo rape scene and the obscene device of interspersing the film with clips from movies of favorite old stars. Thus, in the context of Myra, Laurel and Hardy are made to look like fags. Even more outrageous is the use of Marilyn Monroe sequences during the rape. Only one clip educed any illuminating commentary about Myra. A tough old top sergeant from some obscure war movie growls, "That's what I call disgusting." Precisely.