Jun 12, 2014

Review: Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (1982)

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains never really got out there when it was first released, pretty much having to settle as being an underground film. As far as the subject matter goes, I think that it's a pretty good fit. It's about a garage band that makes it big, pretty much overnight because of a certain message that the band stands by. It also pretty much predicted the rise of popular female artists through MTV.

The humour in LaGtFS is anything but in your face. It's muted in its approach but delivers on the laughs. It satirizes popular rock acts of the time and I guess you could say that it speaks volumes about what it takes to succeed in the music industry. There's some criticism for what appears to be a tacked on ending that was added only 2 years after the film's initial release, but personally I think it works.


Genre: comedy, drama, music
Directed by: Lou Adler
Produced by: Joe Roth, Lou Lombardo
Written by: Nancy Dowd
Music by: N/A
Running time: 87 minutes
Production company: Paramount Pictures, Barclays Mercantile Industrial Finance, Red Stripe
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures, Rhino Entertainment Company
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Peter Donat, Diane Lane, Ray Winstone, Marin Kanter, Laura Dern, Christine Lahti, Fee Waybill, Janet Wright, Stuart Ferguson, Paul Simonon, Steve Jones, Paul Cook, Vince Welnick, Vern Willis, Douglas Mackinnon, Susan Bracher, David Clennon




Corinne Burns (Diane Lane) is a hostile 17 year-old who is critical of pretty much everything. She makes several appearances on the local news channel and gets a bit of a following. She becomes some sort of local celebrity really. She doesn't rest on her laurels though and decides to take advantage of the situation by approaching an agent who allows her and her all-female band "the Stains" to be involved in a tour with two other acts. Corinne's antics cause a chain reaction of overnight success quite literally.


It's really cool to see two of the actresses who make up the Stains so early on in their respective careers. Laura Dern is in what is really her second real Hollywood role, but she plays more of a supporting character. Diane Lane is the main character and you could almost say her acting is a bit rough. It suits her character though, very well in fact. It's also crazy to see Ray Winstone so young! I've only really ever seen him doing gangster-type roles so it was pretty funny to see him as a fresh-faced punk rocker.

There's quite a bit of music that's played throughout the film and it's all well produced. The Stains themselves are awful as they're meant to be, particularly at the beginning. The reason why they become popular at all isn't really because of their music though, it's their message. "I don't put out" can be boiled down to "don't get screwed." A large contingent of young girls latch onto this message and call themselves skunks. What happens to this fandom in the end is pretty interesting.

The ending drew some criticism and was disowned by writer Nancy Dowd which in part was because of her dislike for the new ending. She even took on a pseudonym to take her name off the credits. (Spoilers) I think it works because it shows just how much Corinne was willing to sell out in order to succeed. Ray Wintone's character Billy was too right when he said that fans of the Stains had been had. They bought all the merchandise and Corinne got her cut. She still proves herself to be a good person and you got to think of her situation. Her mom's dead and she's got to provide for her and her sister. Who wouldn't sell out in order to succeed with the kind of problems she has? (End Spoilers)

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains is an underground movie that's worth seeking out if you can find it. It was released on DVD only in 2008 so at least there's that. It's even worth seeing it if you want to see how far Diane Lane has come. Nancy Dowd does a great job at writing some great understated humour and there's some nice commentary on what it takes to achieve mainstream success in the music industry.



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