Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains (1982)

Teenager Corrine is fired live on the nightly news after an outburst at the local burger joint.  The attention leads to an interview in which she reveals (while smoking) that her mother recently died from lung cancer, and she's glad she got fired because now she can concentrate on her band, whose other members are his sister and cousin.

When Corrine finds out the Metal Corpses and the Looters are playing at a local club, she goes to the show in hopes of getting advice.  After being blown off by Billy, lead singer of the Looters, the tour manager recognizes her from the news. He's looking for an opening act and asks her band to join the tour.

The problem is the girls can barely play, Corrine sings in a monotone, and they aren't prepared to actually perform.  The other bands don't respect them, and the audience doesn't react well to their shaky performance.  A few shows into the tour, the guitar player for the Metal Corpses overdoses and dies backstage.  When a reporter asks about him, Corrine takes this opportunity to promote her band by stating she was his girlfriend.

By the next show Corrine has changed her look and attitude. She's belligerent toward the crowd and although she's wearing a see through shirt and essentially bikini bottoms, she emphatically states the Stains don't put out.

While TV newsmen see her as a joke, teenage girls and a female reporters see her as someone who can voice empowerment and feminism in the male dominated world.  Corrine and the Stains are surprised when at their next show, there's a huge crowd of teenage girls who have dyed their hair just like Corrine's, a style which causes them to be labeled skunks.  Things are looking up for the band and they feel like they're on the path to success and fame.

But all is not well, for Corrine is not mature enough to deal with the burgeoning attention, and hasn't had the best upbringing. Soon she steals Billy's song, which is a surprise to the Looters when the Stains open a gig by playing their song.

Rocknroll fables usually don't work out well. The music business is fickle and it's often who you know or being in the right place at the right time that makes or breaks you.  So don't expect a happy ending with riches and dreams realized.

On the commentary, Diane Lane and Laura Dern talk about how this movie was the catalyst for girls to form bands. Perhaps I misinterpreted their discussion but it sounded like they were unaware that there were all girl bands in the 1960s.  There were some great all girl garage bands. Then in the 1970s we had more well known bands such as The Runaways or the Go-Gos.  While the movie may have influenced some girls to form bands,  the Stains weren't a good band and doesn't provide a fairy tale ending.

I first saw this movie on NightFlight, probably in the mid 80s.  The reason I revisited it, other than it's a rocknroll movie, is that the Looters are played by Paul Cook and Steve Jones (Sex Pistols), and Paul Simonon (The Clash).    After the Sex Pistols, Paul Cook and Steve Jones formed a band called The Professionals.  There was a cool record store in my town back in the 80s, and they carried the Professional debut LP, which I bought.  The song that Corrine steals in the movie is an actual Professionals song.

Also of note, the Metal Corpses two main members are from The Tubes - Fee Waybill and the guy who plays the guitar player who overdoses - and Black Randy and the Metrosquad also appear in the film.

What I want to know is how the heck did they get away with Diane Lane in a see through top when she was fifteen?  Plus there's a shower scene, but mostly the nudity is hidden  What's interesting is that I found an article online written by a girl who was an extra when she was a teenager. She, her younger sister, and two friends were Skunks in the mall scene, where a hundred or so girls are dressed like Corrine.  She said that after everything was set up, wardrobe gave everyone the red see through shirts and urged them to remove whatever they had on, and wear the provided top instead.  The parents had already disappeared from the set when this took place. Creepy.
Ray Winstone as Billy and Paul Simonon
Diane Lane as Corrine with her skunk hairdo

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