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Myra Breckinridge

USA 1970
produced by
David Giler, Robert Fryer for 20th Century Fox
directed by Michael Sarne
starring Raquel Welch, Mae West, John Huston, Rex Reed, Farrah Fawcett, Roger C. Carmel, Roger Herren, George Furth, Calvin Lockhart, Jim Backus, John Carradine, Andy Devine, Grady Sutton, Robert P. Lieb, Skip Ward, Kathleen Freeman, B.S. Pulley, Buck Kartalian, Monte Landis, Tom Selleck, Peter Ireland, Nelson Sardelli, Calvin Bartlett, William Hopper, Dan Hedaya, Geneviève Waite
screenplay by David Giler, Michael Sarne, based on the novel by Gore Vidal, music by John Phillips

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Homosexual Myron (Rex Reed) decides to have a sex-change to force manhood to its knees, and before you know it, he's gorgeous Myra Breckinridge (Raquel Welch), who soon enough pays a visit to her rich uncle Buck Loner (John Huston), owner of an incredibly overrated acting school, who has years ago cheated Myra's mother out of her part in the company.

Myra though doesn't introduce herself as sex-changed Myron but as his widow only claiming what's rightfully hers. Naturally, greedy Buck doesn't just hand her over the goods, heck, she doesn't even believe she kis who she claims to be (which she of course isn't in the sense of the word), but somehow she manages to blackmail him into employ her as a drama teacher, she lectures on empathy and posture and tries to show her students the greatness of Johnny Weissmuller, someone who is considered definitely uncool by this new crop of method actors ...

And while still fighting with her uncle, she also finds a specimen on which to force manhood to its knees, cowboy Rusty (Roger Herren), a lame-brained sexist who totally opposes homosexuality. Somehow, Myra finds a way to become Rusty's guardian after he has had a few run-ins with the law, and somehow she manages to tie him up and fuck him in the behind, which somehow totally shatters his view of women - which in turn breaks the heart of his girlfriend, wholesome all-American Mary Ann (Farrah Fawcett).

After having forced manhood to its knees (at least in one man), Myra goes right to another triumph, finally proving to uncle Buck Loner who she really is beyond a doubt (by showing him her penis that had not yet been removed, apparently), and forcing him to give her half of his fortune.

However, there is still one thing left for Myra to do (at least she thinks so): seducing Mary Ann, Rusty's girl, since that would mean her total triumph over manhood - but Mary Ann just can't get physical with another woman (even hybrid being Myra), and instead of seducing her, Myra seriously falls in love with her ... and in the end, Myra is run over by a car, and when she wakes up in hospital, she is a man again ... which fills her/him with joy, because now finally he/she can get it off with Mary Ann ...

John Carradine plays a surgeon involved with Myron's film, while veteran actress Mae West in her first film in 27 years steals the show as a promiscuous theatrical agent.

 

I hate to admit it, but in all, this sex-change comedy has to be regarded as a failure: The script is incoherent to the hilt and seems to go off into several directions at once without ever reaching any of its goals, The film desperately tries to say something without ever doing so, the comedy is at times accomplished but at times disappointingly flat, and the stock footage from good old Hollywood-cinema often fails to make sense.

Having said that the film is a failure though, I can't but remark it's one of the most charming failures there is, it tackles topics like sx, sex change and homosexuality in a way that seems bold even today, it treats its subject(s) in a light-hearted way, it features Raquel Welch (arguably) looking better than ever, and it brought back tot he big screen Mae West after an hiatus of 27 years as her typical screen persona, that of the promiscuous and self-assured maneater  - and even though she is way past her age for a role like this (she was 77 when this was filmed but looks no older than 50), she pulls off her role as admirably and seductively as ever, and she even takes some time to sing a nice contemporary soul tune in a surprisingly unembarrassing scene ...

Despite its ambitions, Myra Breckinridge is definitely not a great film, but it's a loveable little one nevertheless ...

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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On the same day
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

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produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
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written by
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starring
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out now on DVD