Myra Breckinridge (1970) (part 2 of 12)

With that hilarity under its belt, we now get our first exposure to the movie’s major gimmick, which will also prove to be a major source of irritation. I’m referring to how clips from older movies in the 20th Century Fox library will be arbitrarily spliced into the movie. Occasionally, these clips will actually relate to what’s happening in the story, but more often than not, they’ll be chosen completely at random.

Like right here, for instance, where we get a clip from the Shirley Temple film Stowaway. A white guy made up to look Asian asks Shirley if she knows an “Amelican song”. This prompts Shirley to break out into “You Gotta S-M-I-L-E to be H-A-Double-P-Y”. The song continues in the background as a pair of white loafers stroll down the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I was having seriously unwelcome flashbacks to Moment by Moment, until I realized there’s no sign of Perry Como’s star. Instead, the feet stop when they get to Ann Miller’s star.

Mae West’s credit appears as an animated signature, and the white loafers do a little soft shoe over Ann Miller’s star and continue on. John Huston’s signature appears over Veronica Lake’s star, and the pair of loafers angrily kick a cigarette butt off Ms. Lake’s star.

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Multi-Part Article: Myra Breckinridge (1970)

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  • Marvin_Arnold

    The book, actually, is incredibly silly, but at least is vaguely coherent. The movie made a mess of it and refused to clean up afterwards.

    • Matthew

      It is likely that any scenes that might have made the story make sense, if indeed they were ever shot to begin with, are gone forever.

    • Jett

      Sarne had run so over budget there wasn’t time for the studio to clean up Myra Breckinridge.

  • Jett

    Actually, Same got some of Vidal, S book right, like the battle between Buck Loner and Myra and Buck,s using the academy to hustle Dopey strung-out hippie kids and want to be actors. Part of what went wrong was in the casting ofMae West because in the book,Leticia or Letitia(Mae didn,t want the “tit” in the middle)is a drunken masochist who loves being brutalized by Rusty after Myra buggers him, and he turns violent and vengeful. Eventually, he puts Letitia on the hospital and she reluctantly gives up sexy avoid being killed because anything less would be “too second rate to be endured”,but Mae West would NEVER play any of that.No man overpowered Mae West,and she wouldn’ t play a drunk becausr her sister was one, and she hated substance abuse so Sarne had to dump all that. Same was also sickened and offended by Rusty’s Dido rape and he and Raquel didn’t get Gore Vidal’s home-eroticeit and they accentuated the goofier aspect of it,and Sane left out the more erotic parts like Myra’s examining Rusty’s feet and his cock and balls,probably because the MPAA would give any movie that showed male organs an X rating back then,but,hilariously,he got an X rating anyway, even though most of the novel’s X-rated stuff wasn’t even filmed! Same also had the weird idea of making the movie a dream, that,and the fact that Mae West would never play the Letitia that Vidal wrote, was what probably made Sarne leave out most of Vidal’s hospital sequence where Myra wakes up growing a beard and thinks Jim Backus’s Dr.Mengers and his staff are part of a CIA conspiracy, and Letitia is a fellow patient, but Same even muddles his ending!If it was all a dream of Myron’s then why does he say in a voice-over that he loves Mary-Ann,and does he hallucinate that the nurse becomes Mary-Ann,or has she been a hospital nurse all along? Another problem is Rex Reed.Sarne may have regretted his “it was all a dream” scenario but been stuck with it because Rex absolutely refused to play a gay film critic who becomes a woman! Uh Rex maybe you should have been in Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, because THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT THE ROLE OF MYRON IS,AND YOU ARE GAY! Next time Mr. Same cast somebody who WANTS to play the part! And why hire Roger C. Carmel if you’re just going to waste him? It”s a funny idea to make Myron a ghost who advises Myra,and making it all his dream explains how he was able to drive a car and run Myra over, but in the book, Randolph is an analyst and advisor to Myra and they have many good scenes that should have been filmed. Carmel chewed the scenery as Star Trek’s Harry Mudd,and he would have been wonderful in more scenes with Raquel and it would have made more sense if it was clearly real and Rusty or Buck ran Myra over like in the book,also,if Sane is so enamored of Fellini, why didn’t he film the scene where Myra takes the tour bus to the old film studio?That’s the most Felliniesque part of the book,and the movie would have been cooler for the kids if Sane had filmed the hippie student Clem Masters and his groovy rock and roll parties where Myra gets slipped LSD and buggered herself. All in all, I found the film to be colorful and mostly funny.I heard Raquel had a number

    M
    musical number Mae made them cut. I”m sorry we never saw that!That’s how you have a happy,harmonious film shoot, cast two of the biggest diva egomaniacs together in one film! I bet Sarne was really sorry Bette Davis turned down the role of Letitia! Hey,why not bring in Barbra Streisand and really have a groovy mellow time,especially since Mae already went psycho when she first arrived on the set and some reporter told her they gave her Barbra’s old dressing room!!! MEOW!!! Barbra who? It ain’t like butter in Mae’s boudoir honey! Anyway. I think the critics needed to GET A GRIP! they went way, WAY over the top in their criticism of this movie! No Michael Medved,it is not “the most repellent disgusting film ever to be churned out of the bowels of Hollywood”.He must never watch R movies at home. No TIME, it is not “an abomination to the eye”. Have you ever watched a Japanese horror film TIME Critic? And no Joseph Morgenstern of Newsweek it is not”horrifying”,but I get why people thought that, and that’s one more problem and even Sarne realized that, albeit too late. He knew Sharon Tate and he and his wife almost went to get house the night the Manson bunch struck and I’m not quite exaggerating when I say most of the people on the MYRA set wished he HAD been there! Like Sarne said, his paranoia was backed up by fact. Anyway, hippies weren’t funny or happy anymore by 1969 and 1970.Woodstock had become Apparent and Timothy Leary had become Charles Manson and the older generation was locked in their homes with their NRA guns and Glenn Miller records trying to forget that they were growing old and Elvis had retired Irving Berlin and Marlon Brando could cuss and screw onscreen now and Michael Sane, an egotistical Englishman who had been advised against Hollywood by Brigitte Varsity comes along and makes a movie that gleefully, darkly lampoons all the turmoil in America at that time in a very teasing, snarky way.What did Sane expect, an Oscar?And the Zanucks refused to fire him because Jr. wanted to prove to Dad he knew what he was doing, and Zanuck Senior knew FOX was in big financial trouble and so he set his son up to be the fall guy but at least young Richard Zanuck and David Brown got to produce Jaws and Butch Cassidy later.Sarne had to go all the way to Eastern Europe to direct again until England took him back in the late 80’s and early. 90’s. MYRA is much better than it’s reputation but the good parts that are their do make you miss what isn’t. zI wish it and CANDY could be remade.

    • Jett

      I meant Brigitte jBardot,not Varsity and Sarne not Same and Dido not Dido. Sorry

      • Jett

        Damn phone! I meant dildo,not Dido! Sorry Again. LOL

        • Jett

          I meant to say Letitia gives up sex in the book to avoid being killed by Rusty’s rough sex. Sorry.Also,it is implied in yearbook that either Buck or Rusty ran Myra over but Same’s stubborn insistence on making it all Myron’s ultimate wet-dream seems to negate that intriguing possibility.

          • Jett

            I meant Sarne and Woodstock had become Altamont ,not Apparent. Damn phone! Sorry

      • Jett

        I also meant Altamont,not Apparent. Sorry

  • Jett

    Another thing. I recently learned that before this movie,Zanuck Jr. led a coup and ousted his father as head of FOX and replaced him,so Myra Breckinridge was apparently the rope Zanuck Senior was giving his son to hang himself with and Zanuck Junior was probably afraid if he replaced Sarne with George Cukor that the well known and respected Cukor would survive if the film flopped,and he,Richard Zanuck,would get the blame,whereas the newcomer Michael Sarne would be an easier target if he stayed on and the film flopped and Zanuck Junior could let him take all the blame but Zanuck Junior got ousted anyway,his father was back in and pointing the finger at him,and Sarne’s career was screwed more than Mae West at a Chippendale club.

  • Jett

    Also,Mae West never stole a man from another woman so she wouldn’t play the part where Leticia conspires with Myra to break up Rusty and Mary-Ann so that’s another part of the book they had to drop.

  • Jett

    Mae West wrote some plays she wasn’t in.RUBY RING was about 2 girls,Alice & Irene,jealous of their friend Gloria who gets all the men.Gloria dodges the guys & brags that with “the right method” she can make any man propose to her within 5 minutes of their meeting.She gets Items to wager her ruby ring that she can’t and Gloria tries it with 5 different men,a college boy,a businesssmen, a cowboy,an older man,and a college professor.None of them can resist her and she wins the ruby ring.

  • Jett

    THE HUSSY was about Nora Ramsey and her brother Thomas,who live in Mrs.Clinton Somerville’s boarding house with her 2 grown kids Jean and Clinton Jr. and a young female ward, Nancy Haynes.Jean hopes to marry millionaire Robert,but he and Nona are attracted to each other and Mrs.Somerville calls Nona “a hussy”.Nona says she wants Robert cause she and her brother grew up poor and starving.Mrs.Somerville hires a detective to prove Nona is a whore,but Nona disappoints her by refusing a large offer of money for sex.Robert loses his inheritance and Jean dumps him but Nona accepts him for who he is because she loves him and they marry.

  • Jett

    LOOSE WOMEN is about 3 husbands who fear their wives have gigolos so they hire 3 female impersonators to pose as their girlfriends to trick them.The anti-heroes are 3 businessmen,Marston,Foster and Carter who consider divorce then recruit 3 college boys to dress up as Betty,Grace and Edna to fool the wives because if the men try to fool around with real women,their wives will be able to claim alimony but then the wives’ 3 muscle-bound gigolos show up and try in vain to pick up the “broads”.The wives come home and decide that the “girls” will sleep with them tonight,so as to remove temptation from the men. Much running about between bedrooms and bathrooms ensues,till the men admit their trick and reconcile,introducing the female impersonators as they really are.

  • Jett

    CLEAN BEDS is a play about John Barrymore set in a men’s flophouse during the depression years.HAVANA CRUISE is about a yacht cruise to Cuba in the 1930s.Walker,the yacht owner,his wife and daughter and her college student fiancee Roy Brent,an older friend of the owner,2 other couples,and Antibiotics,an Italian singing teacher are aboard.Antonio is after the ladies.One of the wives,Irene,flirts with Roy,compares marriage to slavery,says fidelity is a mental state and infidelity makes married people better lovers.Roy’s fiancee catches him kissing Irene and he gets depressed and jumps overboard.Other couples slip into the wrong spouse’s embrace and the men decide nature meant women to be bad since Eve.Irene goes after Walker too and he’s mad she won’t leave her husband for him and calls her”the monstrous example of your monstrous sex!” She replies that he’s a hypocrite because he kissed her feet minutes ago and now he’s branding her a prostitute.She hates men because they’re”stupid,low,depraved animals!” Nevertheless,they reconcile,but as a hurricane hits the boat,Irene is lost overboard too.The implication is that Walker has pushed her over,but the yacht’s captain,his friend,pretends not to have seen it.”Shall I enter the accident into the ship’s log and notify harbor authorities?” The “sinful” woman has been suitably punished.

  • Jett

    Mae had an unpublished idea BOWERY BEAUT Velvet Royal is the wife of gambler Duke Royal who was murdered in a hotel and turned out to be broke.She rejects the advances of smooth guy Spin Tabor.She discovers the only part of Duke’s property not in hock to creditors is “a cheap moving picture house down on the Bowery near Chatham Square,where they show 2 features ,a newsreel,a cartoon and a “Deadwood Dick”,serial for an admission price of 5 cents.It is patronized mostly by stumble-bums who go there to get warm and to sleep.”As it’s called The Lucretia,her real name,she takes it on,and finds a young man asleep one night,whom she helps revive.Harvard educated,she takes to him.Spin Tabor tries to put the squeeze on her but the young man,Happy,remembers a witness to her husband’s killing.Together,Velvet and Happy comb the joints if the Bowery and Chinatown,and after several adventures locate Spotty,the bum witnessed the killer turns out to be Spin. Happy ending.Mae had some good ideas but she was miscast in Myra Breckinridge because she wouldn’t play what Gore Vidal wrote in the book.