Myra Breckinridge (1970) Poster

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Only In The 60's, Baby!
hokeybutt13 August 2005
MYRA BRECKINGRIDGE (4 outta 5 stars) Considering that this is historically considered one of the "worst" movies ever made, I didn't expect I was going to enjoy it... though I was curious to see how bad a train wreck it was going to be. Well, I was simply amazed at how well-done the movie actually is! To be honest, the movie is not for everyone... and I don't even know if I could actually recommend it to casual movie viewers in good conscience... but if you are a fan of truly bizarre and outrageous movies... this one is a must-see. Raquel Welch gives the best performance of her career... really! She never got many decent film roles but in this one she actually got to show that she was more than just a huge, heaving bosom. (Nonetheless, I also maintain that she probably never looked more attractive in a motion picture than she does in this one.) This movie really is a mess in certain respects but there is so much going on and most of it is so entertaining that I didn't mind the incoherence at all. The use of vintage movie clips to "comment" on what's going on in the storyline is brilliant. (The later HBO series "Dream On" also used this technique but I think this movie did it much better.) Rex Reed is perfectly cast as Myron, a gay man who decides on having a sex change (though Reed vehemently insisted throughout filming that he *wasn't* playing a gay man... uh, okay, Rex). Well, Rex turns into Raquel Welch and that's when the fun begins... he/she embarks on a quest to make men and women re-think the roles that society has imposed on them (I think that's sorta kinda supposed to be the point but it does get muddled a lot of the time). Mae West shows up for no real purpose... 76 years old and belting out her most outrageous sexual innuendos ever. (One of the recipients, a young Tom Selleck.) I never really cared much for Mae West in her prime... and was amazed how not-bad she was here! (I also am a bit reluctant to admit that I have been humming the Shirley Temple ditty that opens and closes this movie non-stop since hearing it.) John Huston probably gives one of his worst performances ever... but he's STILL worth watching... now THAT is star power! There are many classic scenes in this movie that will have you shaking your head in disbelief... could you imagine a Hollywood movie *today* that would have a buxom beauty wearing an American flag bikini, strapping on a dildo and using it on an unwilling male? I think not. Only in the 60's, baby!
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A fascinating, unhappy mess; but see it if you love movies
jgepperson15 September 2005
The book "Myra Breckinridge" is marvelous, and so is its nutty sequel "Myron" (which takes place on the set during the making of the Maria Montez movie "Siren of Atlantis" and, in its original published version, is a diatribe against censorship and finds new ways to use the name Rehnquist). The movie, a big flop in 1970, is not marvelous, but starts intriguingly and still has an aura of the forbidden about it (it was rated X; in 1970 that wasn't a liability, it could be a marketing scheme). The Fox Movie Channel showed the film recently in widescreen and I watched it (the latest in several viewings ) and I failed to notice exactly when it begins to unravel.

In spite of its ultimately depressing and sleazy tone, the movie does have some lovely things in it: the winking girl who pops up in various scenes throughout, Raquel Welch's game, amusing performance, an intriguing visual style, the usage of old movie clips to comment on the action in a meta-cinematic manner (my favorite is the brief glimpse of Marilyn Monroe in the unfinished "Something's Got To Give," a glimpse that could have been furthered), a bizarre underused supporting cast of excellent Old Hollywood character actors (Jim Backus, Kathleen Freeman, Grady Sutton, Andy Devine, John Carradine, etc.) and a short appearance by Genevieve Waite, the star of the director's previous, and only, hit film "Joanna." Waite is also the mother of Bijou Phillips and the ex-wife of John Phillips, of The Mamas and The Papas. (John Phillips wrote the song "A Secret Place" that was used in the film.) I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when the movie was being made. Rex Reed, one of the stars in the film, WAS a fly on the wall and wrote about the fiasco in Playboy magazine. Then he went on The Mike Douglas Show and gave out his Christmas list. To everyone who saw the movie "Myra Breckinridge" he gave a case of amnesia.

I agree with another comment here that the movie has finally caught up with its audience, but only if you know a little something about Old Hollywood and really love cinema.
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not as bad as you've been led to believe.....
davergod17 October 2004
Somebody once said that Gore Vidal's novel "Myra Breckinridge" was un-filmable to begin with. That's probably true. One scene in the book--- a female-on-male rape, described in nauseating, horrific detail--- would have sent most movie directors scurrying in the opposite direction. There's no way that this story could have ever become a classic mainstream movie. But it's not all that bad, thanks mostly to some really clever casting (bringing Mae West into the film was a stroke of genius) and a wonderful, bitingly funny and dead-on performance by a young Raquel Welch.

The basic story is a *really* bizarre dark comedy involving a guy, Myron Breckinridge (Rex Reed), who has sex-change surgery--- or does he, really?--- to become his alter-ego Myra (Raquel Welch). As a female, Myra tries to shake down her uncle Buck Loner (John Huston) into giving her at least half of his popular acting school. There are a few side stories along the way, involving Mae West as a sex-mad Hollywood agent, Farrah Fawcett as a sunny-smiling dumb blonde, and Roger Herron as handsome young Rusty-the-Stud, who ends up being nothing much more than a boy-toy (both in the film and in real life. Was he *ever* heard from again after appearing in this movie?)

The theme of this movie is "Hollywood" in great big letters. A fascination with the movie industry runs through it. It's about everything we imagine Hollywood to be: actors, agents, Southern California, limousines, wild sex, drugs, nudity, the whole bit. There are references to, film clips of, and appearances by, classic Hollywood movies and stars. If you aren't interested in Hollywood and what it represents--- or used to represent--- forget this movie. You won't like it. That's what it's about.

The fun (and there is some) lies in the cynical mechanisms of nearly all the leading players. Well, all except Farrah Fawcett, that is; her wide smile and big teeth, years before "Charlie's Angels", is all happy sincerity; this girl doesn't have a cynical bone in her body. You can't help but like her).

Plopped directly into the middle of various scenes, often with no purpose whatsoever but to add "mood", are dozens of film clips from old 20th-Century-Fox movies. The inclusion of these off-the-wall clips give the whole movie a slightly off-center, psychedelic feel that must have felt self-knowingly hip in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Two big highlights in this movie: the performances of Raquel Welch and Mae West. West got top billing, but is actually seen in a *very* small role; maybe 10 minutes of total screen time. Her scenes are completely self-contained; they don't have much to do with the rest of the movie (except in mood and style), but they are great fun to watch. I'm really shocked by all of the negative comments about her by other reviewers. They aren't giving her enough credit, because West was *hilariously* funny at the mind-boggling age of 77 when she made this movie. Most of the time, she seems easily 30 years younger. (Only for one brief scene in the back seat of a limo--- where she looks quite weary--- does it seem even possible this woman might be on the far side of elderly).

West may have been in her late 70s here, but her character was definitely not. She's playing a hip, powerful, horny, dynamic, middle-aged foxy chick, and damn if she doesn't pull it off with aplomb and style. It would be an impossible role for any other woman of her age, but she did it so successfully that you don't realize what an accomplishment it was until you think about it. West alone is worth the price of admission--- or the price of the DVD, anyway.

Raquel Welch was also at the very top of her form here. An absolute knockout to look at, Welch was drop-dead gorgeous, and she gives a biting, sarcastic, and also hilariously funny performance as Myra. She, by the way, *is* the leading role, despite Mae West getting top billing. The two women did not get at all along during filming, by the way, and in their one scene together, it's obvious that they were never filmed at the same time; their dialogue consists entirely of close-ups of each lady separately.

This movie tried, maybe a little too hard, to be hip and "adult" at the time, and so it's got some needlessly raunchy language and situations in it (including the afore-mentioned female-on-male rape which, unfortunately, did make it into the movie. It's almost as horrific as reading about it in the book was, and you have to feel sorry for Roger Herron as Rusty, the object of Myra's ugly power fantasy.) It was awfully hard to even put a story like this on film in the first place, but Michael Sarne did try, and he succeeded more than failed. I think it's worth it. But know what you're in for when you watch it!
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A Cinematic Debacle of Legendary Proportions
gftbiloxi28 March 2005
Seldom seen since theatrical release in 1970, MYRA BRECKINRIDGE has become a byword for cinematic debacles of legendary proportions. Now at last on DVD in an unexpectedly handsome package, it is as unlikely to win wide audiences today as it was when first released.

Gore Vidal's 1968 bestseller was a darkly satirical statement. Most filmmakers felt that the novel's story, structure, and overall tone would not translate to film, and industry insiders were surprised when 20th Century Fox not only acquired the rights but also hired Vidal to adapt his novel to the screen. But studio executives soon had cold feet: Vidal's adaptations were repeatedly rejected and novice writer-director Michael Sarne was brought in to bring the film to the screen.

Studio executives hoped that Sarne would tap into the youth market they saw as a target for the film, but Sarne proved even more out of synch with the material than the executives themselves. Rewrite upon rewrite followed. The cast, sensing disaster, became increasingly combative. In her DVD commentary, star Raquel Welch says that she seldom had any idea of what Myra's motives were from scene to scene or even within any single scene itself, and that each person involved seemed to be making an entirely different film. In the accompanying "Back Story" documentary, Rex Reed says that MYRA BRECKINRIDGE was a film made by a bunch of people who hid in their dressing rooms while waiting for their lawyers to return their calls.

The accuracy of these comments are demonstrated by the film itself. The basics of Vidal's story are there, but not only has the story been shorn of all broader implications, it seems to have no point in and of itself. Everything runs off in multiple directions, nothing connects, and numerous scenes undercut whatever logic previous scenes might have had. And while director Sarne repeatedly states in his commentary that he wanted to make the film as pure farce, the only laughs generated are accidental.

Chief among these accidents is Mae West. It is true that West is unexpectedly well preserved in appearance and that she had lost none of her way with a one-liner--but there is no getting around the fact that she is in her seventies, and her conviction that she is the still the sexiest trick in shoe leather is extremely unsettling, to say the least. But worse, really, is the fact that West is outside her era. Her efforts to translate herself into a hip and happening persona results in one of the most embarrassing self-caricatures ever seen on film.

The remaining cast is largely wasted. Raquel Welch, a significantly underestimated actress, plays the title role of Myra very much like a Barbie doll on steroids; non-actor Rex Reed is unexpectedly effective in the role of Myron, but the entire role is essentially without point. Only John Huston and cameo players John Carradine, Jim Backus, William Hopper, and Andy Devine emerge relatively unscathed. Yes, it really is the debacle everyone involved in the film feared it would be: fast when it should be slow, slow when it should be fast, relentlessly unfunny from start to finish. It is true that director Sarne does have the occasional inspired idea--as in his use of film clips of everyone from Shirley Temple to Judy Garland to create counterpoint to the action--but by and large, whenever Sarne was presented with a choice of how to do something he seems to have made the wrong one.

The how and why of that is made clear in Sarne's audio commentary. Sarne did not like the novel or, for that matter, the subject matter in general. He did not want to write the screenplay, but he needed the money; he emphatically did not want to direct the film, but he need the money. He makes it very clear that he disliked author Gore Vidal and Rex Reed (at one point he flatly states that Reed "is not a nice person"), and to this day he considers that Vidal and Reed worked in tandem to sabotage the film because he refused to play into their 'homosexual agenda'--which, when you come right down to it, seems to have been their desire that Sarne actually film Vidal's novel rather than his own weirdly imagined take-off on it.

Although he spends a fair amount of commentary time stating that the film is widely liked by the gay community, Sarne never quite seems to understand that the appeal of the film for a gay audience arises from his ridiculously inaccurate depiction of homosexual people. When taken in tandem with the film itself, Sarne emerges as more than a little homophobic--and quite frankly the single worst choice of writers and directors that could have been made for this project.

In addition to the Sarne and Welch commentaries and the making-of documentary, the DVD release includes several trailers and two versions of the film: a "theatrical release" version and a "restored" version. The only difference between the two is that the final scene in the "restored" version has been printed to black and white. The edits made before the film went into general release have not been restored, but the documentary details what they were. The widescreen transfers of both are remarkably good and the sound is quite fine. But to end where I began, this is indeed a film that will most interest film historians, movie buffs, and cult movie fans. I give it three out of five stars for their sake alone, but everyone else should pass it by.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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This movie (was) a slap in the face of America's sexual dysfunction!
kmscb20 March 2001
I read "Myra Breckinridge" in 1969 when I was riding a bus from St. Louis to San Antonio, and I fell in love with everything about the book. I saw the movie when it first came out (even though I was not, legally, old enough) and had a blast. This film (I do NOT use that term loosely) had so much going on and not going on between pretty people and not so pretty people who were acting badly and beautifully while doing evil and funny and disgusting and sweet things to each other in the most vicious and caring ways possible, I was overwhelmed by it all. It had more to say in its heaving breast about the cruel and elevated ways in which man treats his fellow man than every Oscar-winning picture since...and all while telling its story in the most absurd and drug-inducing manner possible.

But what adds even more to the meaning of the film is how it destroyed the career of not just its director (who probably deserved it) but also ruined any chance of a career for Roger Herren solely because he played a character who was raped by a woman. Men can play rapists and women can be raped and gang raped and even play lesbians, and they receive Oscars for their performances and no one thinks the worst of them. But let a man get sodomized and suddenly everyone questions his masculinity and ability to relate to the opposite sex. And THAT is where MYRA BRECKINRIDGE stands tall.

Yes, the movie is a smash-up of styles and insane casting choices and baldly ludicrous dialogue and unintentionally funny acting, but so were more recent idiot movies like THE ROCK and TITANIC and SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, and look how successful they became...and how quickly they will be forgotten. At least MYRA BRECKINRIDGE, the movie (maybe even moreso than the book), worked as a slap in the face of America's sexual dysfunction and hypocrisy...and I believe THAT is what bothers so many people about it. And that is why it remains a movie worth watching,
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Methinks they protest too much
Zen Bones27 December 2000
A man who wishes to become a woman wants to show the world that men are not the superior beings that they have been made out to be. To in fact do to men what men have been doing to women since the beginning of time. Is it surprising that this film is despised by so many people - especially men? The fact that this film is so threatening is a good sign that it is right on track. A handsome idiot "stud", an over-the-hill sexist cowboy wannabe and a whole stable of dumb gorgeous guys (including Tom Selleck!) show what all those fun, sexist sixties movies look like in the mirror image. For here it is the women (Myra and an elderly Mae West) who throw out the sexist innuendo and treat men like fresh meat that have little value other than what they can offer women with their bodies. The sight of an unattractive and elderly Mae West always gets the shaft by the film's critics, yet they rarely comment on the appearance of her male counterpart (played with great relish by John Huston) who also seduces (and I might add verbally abuses) women one-third his age. Hmmm. The fact that this film is so hated shows how far men still have to go before opening up their minds and really seeing the double standards that they adhere to when it comes to sex comedies. It's only when the tables are turned that one can truly perceive this - and this film does this beautifully. It is after all a satire and commentary on Hollywood (as well as on the cheesy camp classics from everyone from Roger Corman to Russ Meyer). The interspersing of classic Hollywood movies depicting this seems to have eluded many viewers since they're so used to taking such images for granted. They don't question them or even see what those classic images are really projecting.

Anyway, this is the most brilliant example of camp cinema to date. The hilarious sabotaging of scenes with reaction shots from various movie stars reflects the so-called innocence of the audience (no wonder so many people find that uncomfortable!), and the film is also choked full of famous faces parodying the very images that made them famous. It has all the camp and surreal qualities of Gore Vidal's book, and it retains most of his incredible dialogue. It is also one of the best movies about Hollywood and the jerks who work there. And last but not least, Raquel Welsh should be most proud of her performance. I cannot imagine anyone else in this role because she is not only wonderful, she completely turns the tables on the stereotypes she personified to men throughout her career. She was a wonderfully cheesy sex goddess, and here she finally has a chance to ahem, be in the driver's seat. It's all just in fun, and that's what the movie is saying. If treating women like they are just a pair of boobs is entertainment, then why can't treating men like they are just a pair of bullocks be the same?
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My thumbs are up
rich-19620 November 1999
I read Gore Vidal's book before seeing the movie, so I understood what Myra the movie was supposed to be about. With that knowledge, I thought the film was hilarious and very entertaining.

Is it a perfect movie? Or even a great one? No. But it has great stars, some of whom turn in solid performances. It also takes an admirable approach to a pretty darn difficult subject!

I for one believe Raquel Welch does a great job as Myra and and that John Huston does a great job as Buck Loner. Roger Herren and Farrah Fawcett are also good as the innocents; they just don't have enough lines.

Mae West certainly added some box office appeal, but, in my view, that's it. Unfortunately, she wasn't willing to be Letitia (she even made Fox change the second "t" to a "c"!). Her presence simply made a tough project tougher.

And then there's the story line. Making fun of America's views of love and sex in a way that will appeal to an audience is pretty tough -- particularly when the key vehicle for making the point is a scene in which a woman (who was once a man) rapes one of her students.

My advice is that you read the book -- and laugh at it. Then see the movie -- and laugh at it to. If you think of it as "dirty," you might go so far as to think it's sick. If you think of it the way Vidal intended it, Myra B's a lot of fun!
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Hilarious - a party favorite
whaieyworksinc21 March 2005
I awoke with the TV still on. A woman dressed curiously like Wonder Woman is strapping a hunk to an examination table as well as something around her waste. What happens next is unbelievable, disturbing, and hilarious. I quickly pop up the menu and select future showings for reviewing. I want to see this flick from the beginning. And I have again and again since. To see criticism of this film saddens me. I am reminded that I still live in a world where minds are half-opened and fearful, if not slammed shut. I disregard the book, the movie is it's own entity. To be a great movie doesn't require perfect segues and outstanding acting (though I have tauted that Herren should get an Oscar solely for the look on his face after the rape scene). A great movie is great for invoking pleasant thought and responses. I totally got this film on first viewing, laughing until tears pooled up in my eyes. The vintage film clips were fabulous, and had to be the model used by HBO's hit series "Dream On" from the '80's. I appreciate the sexual revolution, but only today does this movie make sense to a broader audience - we live this stuff. After leaving this film running in a side room at one of my parties, it was much requested and is now part of a staple rotation. My friends have adopted many lines from the film and hearing them always spawns laughter from those of us in the know. If you have a sense of humor about your humanity, this film is a must see. "Thank GOD I didn't slip her the old 'Buck Loner special!'"
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Just plain mean...
majikstl11 July 2004
MYRA BRECKINRIDGE is one of those rare films that established its place in film history immediately. Praise for the film was absolutely nonexistent, even from the people involved in making it. This film was loathed from day one. While every now and then one will come across some maverick who will praise the film on philosophical grounds (aggressive feminism or the courage to tackle the issue of transgenderism), the film has not developed a cult following like some notorious flops do. It's not hailed as a misunderstood masterpiece like SCARFACE, or trotted out to be ridiculed as a camp classic like SHOWGIRLS.

Undoubtedly the reason is that the film, though outrageously awful, is not lovable, or even likable. MYRA BRECKINRIDGE is just plain mean. As a Hollywood satire it is cold-blooded and mean-spirited, but in a hollow pointless way. MYRA takes for granted that Hollywood is a corrupt town, but goes further to attack such beloved icons as Laurel and Hardy, Shirley Temple, Judy Garland and Gary Cooper. The film seems to imply that everything about Hollywood is by its very nature vile. It seems to think that there is something inherently courageous about mocking sacred cows, but doesn't supply a rationale for doing the mocking in the first place. The film is also viscously anti-American and anti-establishment and anti-this and anti-that, but all in a superficial, late-1960's, trendy way. Like CASINO ROYALE; SKI-DOO; I LOVE YOU, ALICE B. TOKLAS and other would-be hip epics, MYRA is a middle-aged vision of the hippy-dippy youth culture. It tries to embrace the very attitude that it belittles. But instead of being cheerfully self-mocking, MYRA makes no attempt to conceal its contempt for everything that comes within its grasp. MYRA BRECKINRIDGE has the humor of a bully; there's not a single moment of innocence in it. Its intentions aren't honorable. TIME magazine aptly described it as being "about as funny as a child molester," but it's not nearly as sympathetic.

For instance, poor Mae West bore the brunt of so much of the criticism aimed at the film, being described as looking like everything from an aging drag queen to a reanimated walking corpse. The octogenarian star obviously didn't know just how ridiculous she looked playing a lecherous talent agent lusting after men young enough to be her grandsons or even her great-grandsons. But, director Michael Sarne had to know, but he used her anyway. Why? Because, she apparently was the joke. Just like John Huston, John Carradine, Grady Sutton, Andy Devine and other veteran performers in the film, they are there only so the film can mock their age and use them to trash their film images. They are cast as smarmy self-parodies, as is Rex Reed, the arrogant, fey film critic, who is cast as just that in the film. But the real Reed, the celebrity hound, jet-setting, talk show gossip, can be charming in an obnoxiously funny way; but as Myron, Myra's alter ego, he is just obnoxious. Again, apparently for Sarne, Reed is the joke.

You watch MYRA BRECKINRIDGE and you don't see actors, you see victims. None more so than Raquel Welch. No one will ever accuse Welch of being a great actress, but it is a testament to her tenacity and her appeal that she survived this film and her career prospered. Being in almost every scene, Welch was front and center as a target for abuse aimed at the film, but to her credit, she gives a remarkably nuanced performance. Though, of course, centered between the scenery chewing Huston and the almost catatonic West, Welch doesn't have to do much to strike a good balance. Even so, she renders her horribly unfunny dialogue with a deadpan smirk, with just the hint of self-righteous glee that would do any James Bond villain proud. Legend has it that Welch was snubbed by a condescending West and subjected to repeated verbal abuse on the set by bumbling director Sarne, not to mention being featured in one degrading scene after another, making it all the more remarkable that she was able to give such a cool and collected performance.

The film's only intriguing element is trying to figure out just what the film's agenda is. The whole story is a fantasy fable, which should indicate that it has a moral to deliver, but what that might be is anybody's guess. With all of its talk about destroying "the last vestigial traces of traditional manhood from the race," it would seem to have a feminist axe to grind. But as a feminist, Myra is a monstrous figure, a sexual predator. Besides, Myra isn't a woman, rather she is a delusion of Myron, who presumably is a gay male. That might explain the male rape scene as well as the character's love/hate attitude toward the macho, seemingly straight, deadhead Rusty, but it doesn't explain his/her obsession for and the supposedly lesbian tryst with Farrah Fawcett's Mary Ann. The film is obsessed with sex, but can hardly be accused of being in favor of the sexual revolution; all the sex is treated as being, if not dirty, than at least perverse and degrading. Turning to Gore Vidal's original novel isn't of any help, because it is as confused and pointless as the movie.

And this is a rare movie that actually seems to hate movies. Not just movies as a business, but movies as part of the culture as well. The film itself is wall-to-wall arcane references to old movies, all of which director-screenwriter Sarne approaches with a seething disdain. He has raided the film vaults of 20th Century-Fox and peppered the film with snippets of old films, not as an homage or to provide a social commentary, but to mock the innocence of old Hollywood. How can an artist -- if you generously want to call Sarne that -- make a work of art if he already hates the very medium he is working in? The very effort is totally self-defeating.

MYRA BRECKINRIDGE doesn't seem to be in favor of anything other than being just nasty. It hates Hollywood, it hates America, it hates sex, it hates gays and straights and women and men and old people and young people and Laurel and Hardy and, well, you name it and it probably has a scene showing contempt for it. In a very sad and sorry way, MYRA BRECKINRIDGE may be the first punk manifesto, a celebration of pop culture nihilism.
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Raquel sinks her teeth into "Myra" with relish!
moonspinner5515 January 2001
The widow of a gay movie critic hopes to collect on her husband's inheritance, which includes a drama school in Hollywood run by her in-law, Buck Loner, a faded cowboy star. Despite 20th Century-Fox keeping this thing under-wraps for years, the notorious "Myra Breckinridge" is finally beginning to get the recognition it deserves. This Hollywood satire is indeed a misfire, but it isn't a boring one. Based on Gore Vidal's acidic book, it's an amusingly trashy, wicked and low-down look at Hollywood's loss of morals; it isn't meant to be high-brow, and Raquel Welch is ballsy and bitchy as the gal who takes on Tinsel Town. Rex Reed is her alter-ego, John Huston is perfect as Uncle Buck, Mae West is dazed but ribald as a man-hungry talent agent, and Farrah Fawcett is a sweetly stoned ingénue. Vidal (who penned one of the first screenplay drafts himself before being kicked off the project) chastised the picture but, despite some choppy editing and an uncertain direction, it's a movie perfectly in-tune with the source material. After some 30 years, the times have finally caught up with "Myra Breckinridge". **1/2 from ****
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A stunningly ghastly marvel of pure cinematic foulness
Woodyanders27 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This fetid stinkbomb of a film has a notorious reputation as one of the worst movies to ever ooze its disgusting way onto celluloid. Is it really that bad? Well, yes it is, but it's often so strange and perverse that it ultimately becomes downright mesmerizing in its unapologetic freakishness. Raquel Welch, looking absolutely gorgeous and carrying herself with admirable flair and poise, gives it all she's got as Myra Breckinridge, a ruthless, predatory and venomous femme fatale who tries to nab a sizable inheritance from blustery millionaire acting school dean Buck Loner (an outrageously hammy John Huston) and cheerfully destroys any hapless males and females who get in her lethal way. You see, Myra was originally the preening homosexual Myron (a terrible and insufferably smug performance by popular movie critic Rex Reed) prior to having a successful sex change operation (done by none other than John Carradine!). Director/co-writer Michael Sarne delivers a brutal no-holds-barred satire on Hollywood decadence, libertine permissiveness run insanely amok, and the swingin' early 70's sexual revolution which unmercifully mocks both the stuffy old guard and hip youth culture with equal seething disdain; this fierce in-your-face mean-spiritedness gives the picture a shocking acidic edge that certainly isn't subtle or sophisticated, but still gets the nasty job done in a hilariously vicious way all the same. The hysterically broad acting further enhances the all-out lunacy: an aged, yet spry Mae West is positively sidesplitting as blithely bawdy talent agent Leticia Van Allen (the sequence with West heartily belting out "Hard to Handle" on stage is a total gut-busting riot), Calvin Lockhart camps it up to the ninth degree as fey gay Irving Arnadeus, Farrah Fawcett is a bit too convincing for comfort as giggly bimbo Mary Ann Pringle, Roger Herren likewise does dumb with unnerving conviction as macho stud Rusty Godowski (the scene which depicts Myra joyfully sodomizing Rusty is genuinely sick and startling), and Tom Selleck sans trademark mustache even makes his ignominious film debut as one of Van Allen's handsome and virile boy toys. Moreover, there's also lots of clips from vintage golden oldie 30's features edited into the main narrative throughout; this just throws the picture even more off kilter and hence adds to the bizarrely entrancing train wreck quality of the whole misguided enterprise. Now, this isn't a good film by any conventional standards, but man is this wonderfully wretched abomination a one-of-a-kind piece of remarkably vile and depraved kitsch.
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a fascinating train wreck of talent
atomwithoutpity27 October 2006
first of all, i love this movie. that said, i have to ask the question....what WERE they thinking? Starting with the source of Gore Vidal's screamingly funny and outrageous (but with very serious underlying messages on sex, identity, and movies of the 1940's)book we have the one and only Raquel Welch cast in a role nobody but she was born to play. Throw in John Huston not directing but acting. Rex Reed, Farrah Fawcett, Tom Selleck, and, oh, lets not forget the recently embalmed Mae West. If this isn't a combination to titillate all but the most jaded among us, what is? Add what during the filming had to be large quantities of illegal or at least controlled substances, let set when finished for about 20 years and then view what is truly amazing. I wish those who participated in this film were as proud of it as they deserve to be, instead of kind of sweeping it under the rug on their resumes.If you only see one movie about a transsexual megalomaniac on a mission, make it this one.
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Hollywood Who's Who! Mae West - Raquel Welch - John Huston - Farrah Fawcett…
splurben25 March 2001
…and Tom Selleck. (Oh, and Shirley Temple if you're seeing a complete print which is not often the case anymore.) This is an amazing culmination of Hollywood evolution. This film was not long in theatres in the United States.

Mae West in her last 'successful' performance (in my opinion) and well worth the making of the film if only just for her - Mae has everything we ever wanted her to have.

With John Huston as a proper Hollywood creep - we love his candor, Raquel Welch is splendid as Gore Vidal's vision of her true self - Myron Breckinridge (played by Rex Reed) sex-changed into Myra Breckinridge.

This gem features a very early Farrah Fawcett in her second ever film, and Tom Selleck in his first film.

Myra Breckinridge (1970) was effectively banned by litigation carried out by Shirley Black (Shirley Temple) herself who is invoked often in the film's complete original version.

When I found a video copy of Myra Breckinridge at a video shop in Seattle in 1991, I was flabbergasted; I had no idea a film had been made from the book. I had found the Gore Vidal novel in my parents' library when I was thirteen. In fact, I had read it over and over. I could not imagine that Hollywood could have produced a film of this amazing and bizarre novel; it's no wonder its screen life was cut short.

I was already trying to imagine the quintessential scene with Rusty in the infirmary and the famous West Hollywood billboard which puts Wonder Woman to shame.

I was lucky enough to have rented one of the few 'unabridged' versions which was 20 minutes longer than many other abridged versions I've seen since that have cut the flashes of Shirley Temple among other things.

I find this film to be a fine example of all the things toward which Hollywood might ACTUALLY aspire which includes a sense of humour and poking fun at one's self.

View with GUSTO! True Hollywood aficionados will appreciate this one.
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Myra Down The Rabbit Hole
haxan-12 October 2006
Though "Myra Breckinridge" has been universally put through the critical gauntlet, in recent years it seems to be garnering a certain amount of reappraisal, especially from those who were too young to catch it the first time around. As overwrought, unwieldy, and admittedly bellicose it is toward Hollywood and America in general, it's not the total travesty it's been made out to be. Equal parts "The Wizard of Oz" with Hollywood standing in for the Emerald City and "Alice In Wonderland" with Myra's White Rabbit being her lecherous uncle, this is essentially a glossy big budget studio picture concealing the zaniness of a freewheeling 70s underground movie at heart. It's fitting that it shared a double bill with Russ Meyer's "Beyond The Valley of The Dolls" as both feature colorful and decadent adventures in Hollywood, an insane array of characters, a contested inheritance as a plot motivation, unabashed omnisexuality, transgendered players with Goddess Complexes, and a renegade take on film-making.

There's a reason this movie works against all odds and its name is Raquel Welch. Amazonian in body, mind, and soul, she-- like the wily title character-- is a package who's wrappings belie the surprise hidden within. Here we have an ostensible Beach Goddess and Mod Pin Up who's actually a canny rule-breaker and superb light comedienne operating under the radar at Twentieth Century Fox. In Welch's hands, Myra is everything Vidal intended her to be: an androgynous avenger, a culmination of personal dreams, a being born of celluloid and "Million Dollar Movie" reruns, and a Frankensteinian force appropriating power over a drama school Adam and Eve. As much as the movie lurches from one rollicking escapade to another, Welch is the consistent element who never loses her focus and anchors events with a poise and confidence that keeps Myra from becoming a one-note caricature. All of this the lady does without a coherent script, solid direction, or unified support from her costars, no mere feat by any means. Huston makes a fine foil as the macho, out-to-pasture former movie star to Myra's dazzling Bird of Paradise and the two spar marvelously, each giving as good as they get. Reed acquits himself admirably, yet the male version role should have also gone to Welch, who could've pulled it off. It's West who gets the booby prize, though. Seeming to exist in another movie and having no meaningful interaction with the other players, she effectively muzzles her randy character and denies her the chance to rise to the challenge of becoming Myra's equal. Bump and grind as she may, she hasn't a hope of matching the fearless Welch and opts to just go through the motions of her own self-parodic one-woman burlesque show.

As with its leading lady, the film's other great iconoclastic asset is its willingness to present us with a non-mainstream character who's at once a clever homosexual male, a ball-breaking woman who continually flouts authority, a transsexual with no shame about her nature, and a social outsider ready to take on the world. Myra is no superficial pervert or mad drag menace; she's a formidable and morally ambiguous figure who isn't mandated to die so that the status quo can resume. Be it in one form or another, she lives to tell and rise again another day. In her, we ultimately see a real man and a real woman trying to reconcile themselves, while in Ms Welch we witness a true unsung talent and a genuinely brave actress fighting to be free of her own image.
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what the h*'s a Mae West movie in 1970!
beauzee12 December 2014
just another Hollywood mishandling of the new counter culture and the awkward "crossover" of generations. in the very same chemistry as THE PHYNX, I LOVE YOU ALICE B. TOKLAS, SKIDOO, etc. they all failed ...but had something going, at the same time.

I couldn't make heads or tails but loved all the Mae West sequences. She looks great and is very funny. She hadn't made a film in 27 years and she does her thing.

To my knowledge, the old time stars NEVER had a proper chance to come back, even for five minutes, in the movies. Groucho Marx certainly made amends for several turkys when he did YOU BET YOUR LIFE on TV; same with Abbott and Costello, when in their first season of filmed episodes, made us forget some very disappointing films.

So skip ahead to Mae's scenes, pop open a third beer.
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This movie was taken seriously by its cast and crew?
Casey-5223 November 2000
Raquel Welch usually delivers great eye candy in her films, sometimes giving great performances, making most of them at least memorable due to her appearance. MYRA BRECKENRIDGE, despite having Welch star in the title role, is not saved by anything. Despite having a cool cast and some interesting oddball antics, BRECKENRIDGE is embarrassing for the viewer, the cast, the crew, even the VCR that is playing it!

Rex Reed (good-looking, but horrible) is Myron, a gay guy who gets a sex change from doctor John Carradine (terrible) and becomes Myra (Raquel Welch, who is good). Myra worms her way into her uncle Buck Loner (pathetic John Huston)'s acting academy, teaching a class on the history of motion pictures. She sodomizes a sexy southern stud and then steals his girlfriend (Farrah Fawcett!). Thrown into the mix is top-billed Mae West, who contributes what amounts to a cameo as a hideous embalmed agent who has sex with her exclusively male clients. Tom Selleck (minus mustache, but still recognizable) is one of her first studs. Add to this mess clips from old films to help "narrate" the action, two songs by West, ludicrous dialogue, Rex Reed masturbating, and a pretty dumb ending and MYRA BRECKENRIDGE may be worth seeing for fans of extremely horrible films.

Despite my love for so-bad-it's-good films (i.e., VALLEY OF THE DOLLS), BRECKENRIDGE didn't do it for me. It was just too jumbled, unlikable, and boring. Yes, boring! In-between the outrageous and tasteless sexual innuendo, there is boring dialogue and attempted humor that falls flat. Slow viewers will no doubt be confused throughout the entire film and those looking for cheap thrills will feel cheated. While women will feel fulfilled with all the hunks floating throughout the film, men will be disappointed in the lack of any female nudity. Welch does not do nude scenes, unfortunately, and Fawcett does not bare any flesh. Thank God West didn't volunteer her ample endowments!!!

MYRA BRECKENRIDGE could be fun viewing for some cult film fans, but it just didn't work for me. While some scenes do stand out (the sodomy scene, West's musical numbers), BRECKENRIDGE just was too boring for me. I actually fell asleep in the middle of it! Not highly recommended, but those who are curious owe it to themselves to at least say that they've seen it!
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See how Rex Reed becomes Raquel Welch
vinniebab12 June 2001
I have to say I was very curious on viewing this film, and it was considered a notorious disaster when released by 20th Century Fox in 1970. It has also popped up on several critics lists of bad films, and this only deepened an interest, as I just had to see what made this movie so bad.Upon seeing it, I think I have my answers. Although I will say it does make for curious viewing, the acting, direction, and script are so laughingly bad, that the supposed satire is completely missing. Racquel Welch seems to try to carry the film, but after the opening sequence of the sex-change operation, the film goes so far down hill that she cannot handle this task alone. John Huston as Uncle Buck Loner is certainly no help, as he licks and leers at the screen, he sometimes looks like he wonders himself what he's doing there. Rex Reed bounces around as Myron, Myra's alter ego, and even has his own celebrated masturbation scene. Bravo for debut performances! Farrah Fawcett plays a dumb blonde; she certainly seemed convincing in this role. But , of course, arguably the most notorious role went to Mae west. The sight of a 75 year old woman with a plastic face making sexual innuendos seemed more suitable for a horror film. I don't mean to put this cast down personally; but in this film, no one comes out looking good. The direction seems so unassured and non-existent, that the film is not only bad, but boring as well. Throw in some old film footage of old stars, and the movie becomes even more disconnected. To each his own to anyone that enjoyed this, and I was glad I at least saw it, but Myra Breckenridge seems to be the disaster that it was always reputed to be from the beginning.
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Keylimepie14 December 2005
It was the Sixties, and anyone with long hair and a hip, distant attitude could get money to make a movie. That's how Michael Sarne, director of this colossal flop, was able to get the job. Sarne is one of the most supremely untalented people ever given a dollar to make a movie. In fact, the whole studio must have been tricked into agreeing to hire a guy who had made exactly one previous film, a terribly precious 60's-hip black and white featurette called Joanna. That film starred the similarly talentless actress/waif Genevieve Waite who could barely speak an entire line without breaking into some inappropriate facial expression or bat-like twitter. Sarne, who was probably incapable of directing a cartoon, never mind a big-budget Hollywood film, was in way over his head. David Giler's book is the best place to go to find out how the faux-infant terrible Sarne was able to pull the wool over everyone's eyes. If there is ever an historical marker which indicates the superficiality and shallowness of an era, Myra Breckinridge provides that marker. It embodies the emptiness and mindless excess of a decade which is more often remembered for a great sea-change in the body politic. Breckinridge is a touchstone of another, equally important vein. Watch this movie and you'll get a different perspective on the less-often mentioned vacuity of spirit which so often passed for talent during those years.

Many reviewers have spoken about the inter-cutting of footage from other films, especially older ones. Some actually liked these clunky "comments" on what was taking place in the movie, others found them senseless, annoying, and obtrusive, though since the film is so bad itself any intrusion would have to be an improvement.

In my opinion, the real reason Michael Sarne put so many film clips into Myra Brekinridge was to paper over the bottomless insufficiency of wit and imagination that he possessed. That is to say, Sarne was so imagination-challenged that he just threw these clips in to fill space and take up time. They weren't inspiration, they were desperation. His writing skills were nonexistent, and David Giler had wisely stepped away from the project as one might from a ticking bomb, so Sarne was left to actually try and make a movie, and he couldn't. It was beyond his slim capabilities. Hence the introduction of what seems like one half of an entire film's worth of clips. The ghosts of writers and directors - many long since passed on - were called upon to fix this calamitous flopperoo because Sarne sure as heck wasn't able to. This was what he came up with on those days he sat on the set and thought for eight hours while the entire cast and crew (not to mention the producers and the accountants) cooled their heels and waited for something, some great spark of imagination, a hint of originality, a soupcon of wit, to crackle forth from the brow of Zeus. Um, oops. No Zeus + no imagination + no sparks = millions of little dollar bills with tiny wings - each made from the hundreds of licensing agreements required to use the clips - flying out the window. Bye-bye.

As for myself, I hated the film clips. They denigrated Sarne's many betters, poked fun at people whose talents - even those whose skills were not great - far outstripped the abilities of the director and so ultimately served to show how lacking he was in inspiration, originality - and even of plain competency - compared to even the cheesiest of them.
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lee_eisenberg22 June 2005
"Myra Breckinridge" is one of those movies that you figure could only come out at a certain time. After Myron Breckinridge (Rex Reed) has a sex change, he becomes Myra Breckinridge (Raquel Welch), an Ber-feminist who seeks to rid Hollywood of its manhood. She moves in with Myron's uncle Buck Loner (John Huston) and promptly begins using his acting school to undermine his cowboy lifestyle. To crown everything, Myra decides that it's time for women to "ball" men, which she eventually does to a man. Mae West plays agent Leticia Van Allen, who has apparently slept with every man whom she's met.

Some people might call this movie a so-bad-it's-good flick, but I actually didn't find it so bad. Certainly, it was looking at some issues that usually didn't get addressed in movies previously. The movie also used scenes from various other movies to show what the characters are thinking. Farrah Fawcett plays Mary Ann Pringle, Myra's friend at the acting school, and Tom Selleck appears as one of Leticia's clients.

One more thing: I've seen many of Raquel Welch's movies, but until watching "Myra Breckinridge", I never realized how hot she is.
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claudio_carvalho4 September 2009
I bought this DVD without any previous reference but the names of John Huston, Raquel Welch, Mae West and Farrah Fawcett on its cover. I found the Brazilian title very weird, but I decided to watch expecting to see a funny comedy maybe like "Switch". However the non-sense story is awful and hard to be described. Myron Breckinridge (Rex Reed) is submitted to a surgery to change his sex in Copenhagen and he returns to Hollywood telling that she is to be Myra Breckinridge (Raquel Welch) and claiming half the property of his uncle Buck Loner (John Huston). Along the days, Myra and her alter-ego Myron corrupt a young couple in her uncle's academy with kinky sex. In a certain moment, the messy screenplay is so confused that I believe the whole story was only a mind trip of Myron induced by the accident. Unfortunately the beauties of Raquel Welch and Farrah Fawcett are not enough to hold this flick. My vote is three.

Title (Brazil): "Homem & Mulher Até Certo Ponto" ("Man & Woman Up to a Point")
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Ultimate Outrageous Camp
inframan7 July 2005
Funny how Strangelove becomes classic cult & Myra Breckenridge is relegated to the bottom of the septic tank.

Why? Too much sex, smut, queer humor? Hmmm...I would love to know what Kubrick thought of this. Deep down he must have appreciated it; it was right down his alley.

True, it's not easy to sit through. It's a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Kind of a cross between Strangelove & Loved One on some kind of weird hormonal speed. But the intercuts from old flicks are perfectly selected & timed, Raquel's performance is classic & Mae West's nigh club performance is worth the price of admission X 10.

What a cast! Imagine watching West, Welch & Fawcett in the same scene! Then there's Andy Devine, BS Pulley & Grady Sutton in the western bar. Og meets Jingles.

A classic for cinemaphiles.
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Everything You've Heard About 'Myra Breckinridge' Is True... Unfortunately.
PO_Box984726 November 2002
I'd waited 14 years to see this masterpiece and it's everything it's reputed to be: trashy, over-acted, and very campy. If you're waiting for a DVD issue, forget it; reputedly, Fox some time ago destroyed many of the prints out of sheer embarrasment and along with 'Beyond the Valley of the Dolls' was considered the 'Black Sheep' of the Fox Family. They're still probably embarrased that this (to use the words of Myra:) 'unmitigated piece of s**t' got produced *and* released. It's mind-numbingly bad, but still one of my favorites! Poor Raquel tries valiently to save it, and you can tell by the look on her face from time to time she feels she's not getting any help *at all* from her cast or director. And Mae... poor Mae. She looks quite ravishing for 75-ish but it's unsettling to hear lines like "Forget about the six feet, let's talk about the seven inches" coming from someone old enough to be your grandmother. (She had worse dialog in "Sextette"> however...) And Rex Reed should have known better- he was a MOVIE CRITIC! It's hard to take him seriously when he's reviewing a film knowing he was in one of the worst ones ever. However, check it out if you can, it's worth it if you like bad movies!
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babypix26 October 2002
If you go into this exercise in wretched excess expecting a profound viewing experience, you'll be very upset. Part "Blazing Saddles", part "Love American Style", and part "Candy", this film is a tasteless melange of all that was mediocre about late 1960s filmmaking-- cheesy Bachrach-like score, campy costumes, inept acting, and everyone in search of a plot! That having been said, like a train wreck, it's hard to look away. Although most of the production values in this sleaze-fest are abyssmal, there are occasionally clever comic bits of archival footage inserted for (unsubtle) comic affect. Instead of sitttin' wondrin' why, babe, did they cast Raquel Welch, John Carradine, Farrah Fawcett, and egad, Rex Reed; enjoy the lovely cameo appearance by a young mustache-less Tom Selleck, and annoyingly under-the-top performance by 75 y.o. Mae West. This is what to watch when you've grown tired of singing along with "The Rocky Horror Picture Show"!
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What do you think I am, some kind of idiot?
drunk-drunker-drunkest1 December 2006
Quite how this became Hollywood's most famously reviled and ridiculed creation is almost as mysterious as how such a bizarre film was ever made in the first place.

It's the story of a gay film critic knocked unconscious in a car accident who then dreams he has undergone a sex-change operation and been recreated in Raquel Welch's image. I managed to work that much out after two viewings, the first wondering what the hell I was seeing and the second spotting the few clues to the "plotline" that exist between the scenes of insane camp and bizarre sexual acts.

Somehow, through all the confusion and early '70s delirium, I found myself enjoying it. It is a ridiculous mess, but where else are you going to see the legendary John Huston receiving a brutal Swedish massage and Raquel Welch in glorious widescreen, Technicolor Panavision wearing a strap-on and cowgirl outfit ensemble? Not in Legally Blonde, I know that much.
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A Fun Mess that Everybody HAD TO SEE!
shepardjessica8 August 2004
This hodge-podge adapted from a Gore Vidal novel (actually one of the great American writers) makes THE MAGIC CHRISTIAN and VALLEY OF THE DOLLS look like Fellini art-works. Raquel Welch, with an incredible body (and she's actually not very tall) in a lead role (except for KANSAS CITY BOMBER when she was quite good) playing Rex Reed's (bad movie reviewer; not critic) alter-ego, only to be surrounded by drag queen (great chick) Mae West, horny John Huston, a young and "naive" Farrah Fawcett (pre-Lee Majors; what a shame), and other various creep-azoids to pretend to spoof WAY too may things has nothing going for it except inter-spliced old films clips (i.e. Widmark in KISS OF DEATH, Lena Horne)...JUST so they can continue to bleed the life out of everyone.

A 2 out of 10. Best performance = ?. It's so bad, it's worth seeing!
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