Myra Breckinridge (1970)

Article 3523 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-13-2011
Posting Date: 4-7-2011
Directed by Michael Sarne
Featuring Mae West, John Huston, Raquel Welch
Country: USA
What it is: Campy cinematic disaster

A man gets a sex change operation, and then she joins an acting academy owned by her uncle, with the dual purpose of claiming her half of the business and destroying the traditional man/woman relationship.

Gore Vidal wrote the source novel, and he called this movie the second worst he’d ever seen. I take this to mean that, at the very least, the movie didn’t do the book justice. I will say a couple of things about this movie; for what is essentially a “hip” self-indulgent late sixties/early seventies movie (you know the type), it is relatively short (only about ninety minutes) and it’s fairly easy to scope out; to me, it largely seems to be a sort of gay fantasy. In some ways, I find it similar to THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW; think of Myra as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, and Rusty and Mary Anne as Brad and Janet, and you’ll see what I mean. The worst problems I have with the movie is that it’s all pretty obvious in some ways, and it’s really rather creepy seeing Mae West performing the same type of shtick as she used to while wearing layers and layers of makeup that just can’t really cover up the fact that she was in her late seventies. The movie went way over budget due to the quirks of the director, who would sometimes leave the cast waiting while he went in the corner to “think” for several hours. The fantastic element seems to be that, after the sex change operation, Myra sometimes appears as her alter ego of Myron and even has conversations with him. I didn’t find the movie near as awful as its reputation would have it, but it’s not good, and even if it had been, I highly doubt if it would have been a financial success.

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