Customer Reviews: Female Trouble
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on July 26, 2004
Sadly, Female Trouble would mark the final collaboration between John Waters and the fiendishly glamourous David Lochary.

John Waters is one of the few filmmakers who understands the mechanism by which high-profile criminals become popular icons in the public's imagination. In Female Trouble this idea is investigated with the typically perverse Waters' touch. Ultimately, the film is not particularly subversive when viewed within the construct of the sewer which is contemporary popular culture. Nevertheless, Waters illustrates the fine line that exists between glamour and crime. Criminals, as long as their trials last (and oftentimes beyond) are treated with a kind of scrutiny usually reserved for Hollywood elite and heads of State.

In Female Trouble, we are treated to the birth of absolute glamour. Dawn Davenport,as played with typical manic abandonment by Divine, is clearly a young woman of vision. She is trapped at school, thwarted at home, and utterly unable to satisfy her essential beauty needs. When things are at their bleakest, Dawn doesn't cry. She takes action and takes to the road. Her fight for liberation from a world infected with glamour abortions--is the core theme of this film. Beauty at all costs. It is a glorious dream indeed.

Of course, something that sexy is bound to get picked up, right? In Dawn's case, she gets picked up by Earl (boozing machinist, played magnificently by Divine (as Harris Glenn Milstead). Earl knows a hot body when he sees one, so he takes Dawn to an abandoned matress and proceeds to make sweet love to her. See, it is actually wondefully twisted becauses it is Divine screwing himself. The schitt stains on his drawers are a particularly delicious touch. Anyway, that foul meeting leads to a wicked little girl named Taffy. Taffy is pure, sinister fun. She doesn't get to go to school, doesn't have any friends, and is forced to socialize with an increasingly morose and critical Dawn. Oh, the sweet brutality that child suffers at the hands of her Mama. If you like child abuse, you'll be gassed by Taffy's plight. Especially when she is played by Waters regular, Mink Stole. Oh, what joy seeing a grown woman dressed like a profoundly deprived Shirley Temple on Meth.

Mary Vivian Pearce and David Lochary embody an ascetic, glacial glamour that is enhanced by their artic attire. As Donna and Donald Dasher, they are sexless, emotionless ciphers devoted completely to their credo that "crime is beauty". Dawn, who's devotion to pure glamour eventually supercedes even the Dashers, is the perfect vehicle for the Dasher's philosophy. She is certainly eager to participate in the Dasher's supreme vision. This vision culminates in a wild final sequence that is decidedly not particularly glamourous. I don't quite know what the intent was of these final scenes, but they didn't live up to the promise as personified by the Dashers.

Edith Massey once again shimmies her beautiful form into exceedingly revealing costumes. There is even a shot of her heaving rack. I'd take that over a thousand shots of Angelina Jolie. . Edie is subjected to all sorts of indignities as the colorful Aunt Ida. She's verbally abused, mutilated, and confined like a Slave on a ship. Yet, she retains her girlish charm and it is impossible not to feel sympathetic towards her. That is basically the genius of Edith Massey. She even had me rooting for her as the completely sadistic Queen Carlotta in Desperate Living. I bet she made really strong drinks for her friends...
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on October 12, 2004
Why is it that everyone expects an artist to do the same thing over and over again? Why is it that every review I've heard of this film by viewers always have to start their reviews saying something pointless like, "This isn't the grossest delve into depravity that Waters has done before." You get the idea. "Female Trouble" is a classic. In many ways, more of a classic than "Pink Flamingoes" will ever be. (Not that "Pink Flamingoes" isn't or shouldn't be considered a classic.) "Female Trouble" doesn't rely on the same "already been done" techniques or tactics that worked before. Let's put our hands up and clap for John Waters for realizing that evolution as an artist is just as important as a stunning hairdo and fabulous makeup. He has created timeless characters, magnificent dialogue, and a sense of glee that has rarely if ever been duplicated on the prosaic, puritan-ridden American cinematic screen. So let's give Mr. Waters a chance, shall we? Let's not pigeon-hole him as so many of Hollywood consumers often do with film makers and allow him to grow as an artist.
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on February 20, 2006
My all time favorite John Waters film. It is deliciuosly BAD, just the way I like it. Divine, Edith Massey,Mink Stole and ALL of the 'Dreamlanders' are cult legends. I love it more than Pink Flamingos, which is another trash masterpiece. THE BEST!
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John Waters' 1972 PINK FLAMINGOS was an unexpected "midnight movie" hit, a highly deliberate exercise in ultra-low taste done in a low budget, guerilla-film making style. The 1974 FEMALE TROUBLE was Waters' follow up. It suffers from being unable to top PINK FLAMINGOS--but really, now, what could? So it may be best to judge the film on its own.

The story is a riff on 1950s and 1960s "good girl gone bad" B-movies. In this instance, however, it would be better described as "bad girl gone even badder and then some." Dawn Davenport (Divine) is high school trash to begin with, and when her parents refuse to get her cha-cha heels for Christmas she stomps out of the house, gets pregnant, and takes to a life of crime that ranges from rolling drunks to the occasional spot of house-breaking. She eventually fetches up with Donald and Donna Dasher (David Lochary and Mary Vivian Pierce), who run a beauty parlor for super-trash and who find in Dawn their ultimate concept of criminal beauty.

In addition to those already named, most of the early John Waters gang is on hand. Edith Massey begins the film by fondling her breasts and then stomps around in lace-up dominatrix attire as Dawn's enemy Ida. Cookie Mueller and Susan Walsh are on hand as Dawn's best friends Concetta and Chicklette, and Mink Stole psteals everything that isn't nailed down as Taffy, Dawn's neurotic daughter. Before the whole thing is over, fish have been thrown, hands have been lopped off, and Divine has done the dirty deed on a roadside mattress.

Now, not everybody likes early John Waters films. Far from it, and people who decide to watch FEMALE TROUBLE because they liked the musical version of HAIRSPRAY are in for a really, really rude awakening. Even some thirty years later, the content of FEMALE TROUBLE remains extremely extreme and incredibly tasteless, so be strongly forewarned. The film isn't in pristine condition, but it's surprising good considering how cheaply it doen to begin with, and it comes with a DVD commentary track by Waters himself, which is is very entertaining and worth a listen. Recommended--but if you've never seen an early Waters film, well, you're on your own.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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on April 21, 2006
Divine's star rises to exagerrated proportions in this one! While Pink Flamingos shocks and awes by it's incredibly anal scenes (in more ways than one), this one shocks by it's incredibly bizarre storyline and script that Divine vainly utters all the time!

It is not the story about a good "girl" gone bad. It is the story of a bad "girl" getting all the publicity SHe deserves, and how outrageous SHe becomes to obtain the stardom and noteriety due HIr. In the end, SHe considers the electric chair better than an Oscar or a Star on the sidewalks in Hollywood!

All of Divine's tonnage is for view here, in the most outrageous costumes and drag that the Pope of Filth John Waters can imagine!

You even have parts where Divine is in the drag of a demented garbageman when SHe plays the part of the "man" who "makes love" to HIr on a matteress in a garbage dump! So in reality we get to see Divine "F--- HIrself!"

Of all the Dreamlanders, Edith Massy is the most adorable. In the "cutest" scene in the movie, Edith is rolling on the floor, and we get blessed by scenes of humongous breasts and bad dental work...YEEECCHH!

Be sure to view ALL John Waters earlier works, before he "sold out" to the Hollywood sugar and spice set.
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on September 28, 2001
This as got to be my favourite movie of all time, I never ever get sick of watching this. I watched this film many years ago when I was looking at videos to rent and I found this, the story line itself should make any one want to watch this, all my freinds have been forced to watch this, some loved it, others horrifed by it, take it all with a pinch of salt and sit back and laugh at such trashy behavior. Its not to be taken serious , but I dont think these films ever where ment to be. Just outragous and crazy humour, if you like shock value, watch this film. The wonderful Divine plays her best role to date
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on October 31, 2005
John Waters's Female Trouble is an allegory about filmmakers, I suspect. Donald and Donna are the proprietors of a beauty salon. They interview and hand select the most hideous of potential clients. When they come across Dawn Davenport, they decide to take the horrors of her life and build her up in a catalysmic orgy of what is sometimes known as "gay delusion." When they decide to showcase Dawn at a theatre, her act does not go over well with the audience. On trial, they are called to cross examination, where both Donna and Donald deny everything. This struck me as a close semblance to film-makers and artists who try to wash their history clean of flops.

I came to this realization when John Waters himself, plays the defending lawyer for Dawn. In effect, he is defending a piece of art work to be its glorious self, no matter how hideous.

Of course, the movie would be a gem just on the dialogue between Gator and Ida, a mother who begs her son to be gay, and warns of the dire consequences of becoming heterosexual.

A must for anyone who brought their family to the delightful Broadway play of Hairspray and felt they wanted to get better acquainted with Waters's previous work.
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on August 9, 2001
John Waters has created a masterpiece in Dawn Davenport of 'Female Trouble'! ONLY, but ONLY, could Divine play the insanely HILARIOUS Dawn Davenport throughout her series of misadventures. This movie guarantees constant laughter, as well as a series of 'Oh my God's' that will no doubt drop from your mouth! This is a family with serious ISSUES! With a daughter like little Taffy - "Look at her face, she has the face of an old woman" to her 'Supermodel' career, Dawn races from scene to scene in her slingback pumps & heavy mascara with 'Divine' style! When she hits her arch enemy with a fish in the head, you will hit the floor laughing hysterically! It is so ridiculous that you will love it! You haven't LIVED until you have witnessed Dawn in her fringed bell-bottom jump suit - jumping on a trampoline - all 300 bodacious pounds of her! And her final speech is not to be missed! Get this movie! It will STUN you into uncontrollable laughter! And like our 'Supermodel' Dawn Davenport, you will soon finding yourself with an uncontrollable urge to inject mascara into your veins for your next 'beauty fix'! You just have to witness this extravaganza to believe it! Absolutely HYSTERICAL!
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on January 3, 2005
divine is at his best in this one !! be prepared for a john waters bedtime story... .. mink stole as "taffy " dawn davenports, not so young and or attractive looking daughter .... and the wonderfull edith massey as her "mucho" less then attrative nieghbor !! "aunt ida". is to much for one person... this has camp , gore , degradation , drugs , and a story line that is disturbingly funny i highly recommend this for any john waters fan and or divine fan !! this was my first "divine experience" and trust i havent forgoten it yet ..... i recommend "pink flamingos" as a companion !!
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on March 5, 2007
Yes!! On Christmas or any other holiday. One of Divine's and Waters' best movies. Not for the faint hearted. However, if you are a fan of Divine or Waters, this is not to be missed.

Divine chews up the script and scenery with her portriat of Dawn Davenport acting like an overweight Liz Taylor.

The story line is great as well as all the other characters in this film.

In my opinion, this movie is up there with Citizen Kane and Rules of the Game. A must for any person who loves camp and trash.
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