Paul Morrisey's Women in Revolt, while a satire of Women's Liberation in the early 1970s, is really an homage to classic movie cinema of the 1930s, 40s, and 60s. In it, Morrisey alludes to the popular "woman's picture" or, "weepies" of those eras by presenting us with the story of three career girls -- a set up that is most reminiscent of How to Marry a Millionare.
Candy, the beautiful and more aloof one of the trio, has her head in the clouds and aspires to become an actress. It is Candy who makes allusions to old time movies and stars by quoting such campy lines such as "I want to live" from Susan Hayward's movie, and the above. Her scene when she auditions for the movie agent is so reminscent of Lana Turner's audition with the agent in Imitation of Life (the set is so similar, right down to the swinging door!)
In real life, Candy Darling was obsessed with old movies and old movie stars. Her mother was a big fan of them and Candy used to entertain her by impersonating Joan Crawford or Garbo and dressing in drag. Candy is also the more convincing woman when compares to Jackie Curtis.
Curtis, a school teacher and a repressed lesbian, is also fighting for women's rights. But she, too, is a character grouneded in cinema. A "working woman" or "career girl," she is single, beautiful, and a survivor. But Jackie's character is annoying: she gets upset at her houseboy for no apparent reasons and is very cruel to him, at one time throwing matches at his naked body. Still, Curtis is a fantastic performer to watch. He is so alive and funny, having starred and written many off broadway plays. It is ineresting to note that the only reason Curtis started dressing in drag was because he wanted to become a star and knew that Andy Warhol was intrigues by transvestites. Holly Woodlawn, however, just knew how to lie.
When he was preparing to shoot Trash, Morrisey says that he cast Holly without even meeting her. Having read a story in a magazine in which Woodlwan described herself as a Warhol Superstar (without officially being one), he was curious and cast the talented Woodlawn. Unlike her perfomance in Trash, which was brilliant and funny, Woodlwan is reduced to a supporting role that leaves her with less screen time. In her memoir, Woodlawn wrote that she felt intimidated by Darling and Curtis who just dominated every scene and thus she handed the movie over to them. This is a shame because I was really impressed by Holly's acting in Trash and in this movie, she plays a kept women who simply screams and has sex with many men.
Overall, Paul Morrisey's Women in Revolt is a gem. If you like old movies and obscure cult films, you might be able to recognize the allusions to old Hollywood in the film. If not, that is okay too because this is really a good movie. It is funny, interesting, and good.
My only regret is that Image Video does not issue a commentary for this film. There are so many stories on the making of and background of this movie. I would love to have insight into the actress' private life. Someone at Image should hurry up and get Holly Woodlawn (the only surving actress of the trio) and Paul Morrisey's commentary on this important film! The same should be done with Trash because all three of the main characters are still alive.
Still, a good movie to add to your cult collection.