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.