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Myra Breckinridge (1970) Poster

Trivia

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After this movie's first previews, the White House insisted that the footage inserted into this movie from Heidi (1937) be immediately withdrawn. The star of Heidi (1937) was Shirley Temple-Black, who at the time, was a United States Ambassador.
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It was not so much the box-office failure as the complete and utter critical savaging of this movie - a reception that could only be termed as "disastrous" - that wrecked the careers of Writer and Director Michael Sarne and Roger Herren. The critical and financial flop also seriously hurt Raquel Welch, who never achieved the true star status that had been predicted for her.
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In a book about the making of this movie, Producer David Giler said that he came to the set one day to find out why filming was so far behind schedule and discovered that the entire cast and crew had been kept sitting around most of the day (on full salary) while Writer and Director Michael Sarne photographed a cake for eight hours. He was also told by cast and crew members that Sarne would go off in a corner and "think" for six to seven hours at a stretch, during which time shooting would come to a standstill. According to Giler, such antics were one of the reasons that this movie went so far over budget, and he and the other producer demanded that the studio fire him, but it was in Sarne's contract that he could not be fired until he turned in the first cut.
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Bette Davis emphatically turned down the role of Leticia Van Allen, expressing her contempt for the book.
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Rex Reed originally refused to say the line, "Where are my tits? Where are my tits?" However, the producers informed him that if he didn't say the line, they would use an establishing shot with a voice impressionist yelling "WHERE ARE MY TITS? WHERE ARE MY TITS?" He reluctantly agreed to say the line.
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According to the 1978 book "Flesh and Fantasy", Mae West had stipulated in her contract that only she would be allowed to dress in black-and-white in this movie. Raquel Welch showed up to shoot their first scene together in a black dress with an enormous white ruffle, and West threw a fit. When the producers sided with West, Welch had the ruffle on the dress dyed a very pale blue, which photographed as white.
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Raquel Welch made fun of this movie on a talk show and on this movie's DVD Commentary, where she ruthlessly ripped into it and her own acting.
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Raquel Welch was extremely welcoming to Rex Reed on the set. The columnist was new to filmmaking and said it was remarkable how helpful she was. Welch even appeared with Reed when they shot his screentest, which most A-list actors and actresses decline to do.
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It was Lee Majors who got then-girlfriend Farrah Fawcett involved in this movie. He was sought for the role of Rusty but turned it down. However, he did introduce the producers to Fawcett, who had done several television commercials by that time, and she was hired to play Mary Ann. She later told Rona Barrett, "It was a terrible picture. But it taught me a lot about egos and star-trips. Everyone was on that!"
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Writer and Director Michael Sarne repeatedly insulted and belittled the cast, in particular calling Raquel Welch "old raccoon" and constantly telling her to her face that she was so ugly he could barely stand to look at her. He also called John Huston a "decrepit old hack" amongst other things, and slammed his entire career in a magazine interview conducted during filming.
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When Raquel Welch was hired for the movie, she was under the impression that she would be playing Myra and Myron. She was disappointed that she didn't have the opportunity to undertake the acting challenge of playing both parts.
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Gore Vidal called this version of his novel the second worst movie he'd ever seen, eventually disowning the story he wrote and later wrote when he found out director Sarne latterly was a waiter in a pizza joint, opined: 'proves that God exists and there is such a thing as Divine Symmetry' [Esquire magazine.]
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Writer and Director Michael Sarne complained to Producer Robert Fryer that Rex Reed was being "faggy, prissy, and unpleasant" on the set.
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Candy Darling, a transgender starlet who appeared in several Andy Warhol movies, aggressively campaigned for the lead role.
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The statue of the twirling Las Vegas showgirl outside of the Chateau Marmont Hotel where Myra Breckinridge stayed (and which was the model for Raquel Welch's publicity shots) was pulled out of storage for this movie. The actual statue during its heyday can be seen in The Stripper (1963) and The Savage Eye (1959). The 'Fake Pig' prop (seen outside the acting classroom) was in 'Hello Dolly (on the meat packer's float.)
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Michael Sarne was hired as Writer and Director because Twentieth Century Fox wanted to tap into the youth market. Sarne didn't want the assignment, but felt he had little choice, as he desperately needed the money after several failed years in Hollywood (he was not a fan of the book and even less of a fan of Gore Vidal, who he felt sided with Rex Reed in an attempt to play up this movie's "gay agenda").
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Raquel Welch later said she was fascinated at working with Mae West, mainly because she could never actually figure out if West was a man or a woman.
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One of two movies released by Twentieth Century Fox in 1970 to receive an X certificate. The other was Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970).
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Movie critic Leonard Maltin said that this movie was "As bad as any movie ever made."
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Mae West would never work until after 5:00 p.m. She also had full approval on all wardrobe decisions for not just her but for Raquel Welch, too. For their one scene together, Welch was supposed to have been wearing a black dress with white trim to counterpoint West's own white dress. On the day of filming, Welch arrived on-set, eager to wear her sumptuous Theadora Van Runkle creation, only to be informed that West had insisted that it be confiscated. Welch was so outraged, she stormed off set and would only return when the dress had been given back.
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Rex Reed wrote a piece for the August 1970 edition of "Playboy Magazine" trashing this movie and predicting that it was so bad it would never be released.
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This movie originally included at least one fast-cut montage, using archival footage from past Twentieth Century Fox movies, and featured such recognizable stars as Shirley Temple-Black, Betty Grable, and Loretta Young. The montage was intended to depict images going through a character's head while being raped. Young and some of the other stars, whose faces were used without their permission, successfully sued the studio to have footage of themselves cut from release prints of this movie.
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According to many accounts, Writer and Director Michael Sarne encouraged bickering amongst cast members.
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In the 1970s, Gore Vidal wrote in Esquire Magazine that when he found out that Michael Sarne was working as a waiter in a pizza restaurant, he said it "proves that God exists and there is such a thing as Divine Symmetry."
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This was Mae West's first movie since The Heat's On (1943).
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Shortly after this movie's release, Loretta Young threatened to sue the studio if a clip from The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (1939) was not removed because she objected to its use in a new sexual context. The clip was promptly removed from all prints in circulation.
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Director Michael Sarne constantly re-wrote the script, adding bizarre and completely irrelevant scenes that deviated further and further from the original novel.
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According to Raquel Welch, Mae West wrote all of her own dialogue.
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Gore Vidal disowned this screen version of his novel.
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Writer and Director Michael Sarne intended the final scene in the hospital to be shot in black-and-white. This version is shown on the Director's Cut.
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Mae West insisted that her character's name (Leticia) be spelled differently than it was in the book (Letitia) citing "the obvious reasons".
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The fake pig seen outside of the academy acting classroom was also prominently seen on the Meat Packers' float in Twentieth Century Fox's other big-budget bomb, Hello, Dolly! (1969).
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Although they share a scene, Mae West and Raquel Welch (who famously did not get along) never actually appear in the same frame together in the entire movie.
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One of the conditions that Mae West insisted on be met before she would appear in this movie was that she have a couple of musical numbers.
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Michael Sarne spent several days filming tables of food for a dream sequence which, in addition to being non-essential to the plot, appeared in this movie for only a few seconds.
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Bud Yorkin was originally hired as director, but he quit and was replaced by Michael Sarne.
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Although Gore Vidal spent forty years taking potshots at this movie, he still maintains that he has never even seen it - an allegation he makes at least twice in his 2009 photo memoir "Snapshots in History's Glare".
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Perhaps because he was passed over in favor of John Huston for role of Buck Loner, Mickey Rooney repeatedly lambasted this movie in interviews upon its release, claiming it was a disgrace to the motion picture industry.
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This movie was banned in Australia until the introduction of the R-Certificate classification.
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Writer and Director Michael Sarne originally wanted Mickey Rooney to play the part of Buck Loner, but John Huston was cast.
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One of the movies included in "The Fifty Worst Films of All Time (and how they got that way)" by Harry Medved and Randy Lowell.
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Geraldine Page was mentioned for the role of Leticia Van Allen.
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While Theadora Van Runkle was this movie's official Costume Designer, Edith Head provided the costumes for Mae West.
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Audrey Hepburn and Vanessa Redgrave turned down the lead role.
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The out of print Region 2 UK DVD featuring the theatrical and Director's Cut and separate audio commentary by Writer and Director Michael Sarne and Raquel Welch is now a valuable collector's item.
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Every day while shooting, Mae West would come in to work surrounded by young, muscular men. She would tell the studio security, "They're with me!"
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Michael Sarne quickly went over budget due to his unorthodox techniques, which included spending up to seven hours at a time by himself, "thinking", leaving the cast to wait around on-set for him to return so that filming could commence.
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Robert Lipton was mentioned to play Myron Breckinridge before Rex Reed was cast.
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The part of the sex-change surgeon eventually played by John Carradine was originally intended for Walter Pidgeon.
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Leticia's red and black car is a 1939 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Sedanca DeVille by coach-builder James Young, chassis no. 3DL192. It was exported to Los Angeles, California in 1967 and then shipped to Switzerland in 1980, where it was sold at auction in 1996 for $50,426.
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Farrah Fawcett said she was practically in tears behind the scenes: Raquel Welch was very mean to her. Mae West took one look at her and said she refused to work with other blondes. So she was sent to have her hair darkened. When Welch saw her, Farrah said she was furious and she was sent back to the colorist.
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First appearance in a movie by Farrah Fawcett.
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This was Mae West's last movie until Sextette (1977), which was her final movie.
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Rex Reed was a well-known movie critic at the time.
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This movie was supposed to be a comeback movie for Mae West.
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A large photo of Clint Walker is the only readily recognizable star to adorn wall of Leticia Van Allen's talent agency.
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The old footage of a dam breaking was taken from The Rains of Ranchipur (1955).
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Final theatrical movie of William Hopper (Judge Frederic D. Cannon). He died before the movie's debut.
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Mae West came out of retirement after twenty-seven years to play Leticia Van Allen. Intended as a comeback role, it flopped and was bashed by the critics. It was instead her last movie until Sextette (1977), which was her final movie.
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Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Anne Bancroft, and Dame Angela Lansbury were all considered for the title role.
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This movie includes archival movie clips of movie from the 1930s and 1940s.
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Penultimate movie featuring Mae West.
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Jack Oakie was considered for the role of Buck Loner.
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Writer and Director Michael Sarne used footage from another movie in which Raquel Welch starred, One Million Years B.C. (1966).
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A year prior to the release of this movie, Angie Dickinson played a character called Laura Breckenridge in the Burt Reynolds western, Sam Whiskey (1969). Raquel Welch also starred in a Reynolds western during this era, 100 Rifles (1969).
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Theatrical movie debut of Tom Selleck (Stud).
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Myra arrives at the Buck Loner Academy in a 1947 Lincoln Continental convertible.
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Mae West portrayed a 'vampish' over the hill, 77 year old, 'glamourous Granny': in effect, deliberately sending up her prior actress reputation up, cracking many herself added in double-entendre one-liners (commenting on the height of an aspiring male star: "let's talk about the seven inches") along with herself insisting on changing her character's name from 'Leticia' to 'leTITia'; yet contemporary critics in 'savaging' the whole film, singled her especially out to take the brunt with criticism of her appearance and character, quite meanly, as an 'ageing drag queen, a re-animated corpse'.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Upon its release, this movie was virtually universally condemned by reviewers. Most critics didn't just criticize this movie, but actually savaged it, with many reviews crossing the line into outright moral indignation. The review in the July 6, 1970, edition of "Time Magazine" was titled "Some Sort of Nadir" (referring to the scene where Myra (Raquel Welch) anally rapes Rusty Godowski (Roger Herren) with a strap-on dildo). The review became famous for its opening line: "Myra Breckinridge is about as funny as a child molester."
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In the famous rape scene, if you look closely, Raquel Welch is not putting on a strap-on, but a gun belt with a six-shooter in the holster.
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Trailers included many alternate takes, and one additional snippet of dialogue. In the hospital at the end, Myron asks the doctor if he's a boy or a girl, and the doctor says that he can't tell from where he's standing.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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