on June 27, 1999
ANDY WARHOL'S TRASH By C.C.Berg
I first saw this tragic comedy when it was released in Stockholm in 1970, and it is against the background of this period that it should be considered: free love and the birth pill; the hippie flower-power philosophy; the Vietnam war; the drug culture. Twenty-nine years ago this movie had a strange effect on me, I left the cinema with a profound feeling of joy
According to what I have read, the movie is unscripted and the acting improvised, this comes across very clearly. The sound quality is sometimes poor. We are shown a series of 'tableaux', in which some very perturbed, gruesome characters play out their daily life centred on drugs, sex and misery.
Joe, an impotent heroine addict, is constantly looking for his next hit and constantly coming across women who want to make love with him. Joe and his 'wife', sweet Holly Woodlawn, a frightful transvestite (and powerful actress), live in a run-down apartment furnished with what Holly finds in the garbage.
These two characters and the fauna who surround them get into the most absurd and unlikely situations. The movie is sprinkled throughout with humour and grim reality, a dichotomy which works disturbs and delights. One finds oneself passing from disgust to a belly laugh in a matter of seconds and this is where the strength of the movie lies.
To be brief, here is a little gem which is well worth seeing, an absurd drug-sex comedy with much artistic talent. For adults only.
A military brat who ran wild, Joe Dallesandro did a number of nude modeling jobs for "physique" magazines before he stumbled into Warhol in 1967. Warhol might have been problematic as an artist, but he did have a talent for surrounding himself with the extreme personalities from which he fed. He knew a good thing when he saw it, and for the next several years Dallesandro was a fixture at Warhol's "factory" and made one Warhol-produced, Morrissey-directed film after another. But there is really only one reason to watch any of them, and that is hope that Dallesandro will get naked. And very often he does.
The simple truth is that Morrissey, who typically wrote, edited, and directed these films, is extremely bad at all three. There's not much in the way of plot or script, and it seems Morrissey worked by creating a written outline of the scene and then letting his actors riff on it in bad improvisation for the actual filming. As for acting, you can pretty much forget about it, for none of the performers are actors in any real sense: they are who they are, which to say they are entirely without talent but they are vaguely interesting because they themselves are so extreme. That really is what Joe Dallesandro and Holly Woodlawn and the rest were like.
Like most Warhol-Morrissey-Dallesandro outings the plot is so slight that it is virtually non-existent. Dallesandro is a heroin junkie who has shot up so many times he has become impotent--and this proves to be a tremendous source of frustration to virtually everyone who comes his way, including Holly Woodlawn, a trash-picker/hoarder with whom he lives; Geri Miller, a go-go dancer; rich girl Andrea Feldman; the upscale couple Bruce Pecheur and Jane Forth; and pregnant Diane Podel. The entire film revolves around Dallesandro's efforts to score heroin, and one and all seem horrified by his use of the drug. This may not be acting: Dallesandro does indeed shoot up in his scenes. We can't know what was in the needle, but the way Dallesandro goes about it indicates that he wasn't exactly innocent where the process was concerned, and he does indeed seem stoned in the aftermath.
Dallesandro couldn't act worth a damn and he relies on his chief asset to get him through: he spends a lot of his on-screen time completely naked in all his rough-trade glory. Geri Miller is entertainingly giggly, jiggly, and attractively naked as the go-go girl, and Jane Forth walks off with best scene and lines in the film. But where acting was concerned the big noise was Holly Woodlawn, whose freakish performance was so admired that everyone from George Cukor to Joanne Woodward lobbied for an Oscar nomination. Woodlawn didn't get one, perhaps because the Academy thought the movie too trashy, perhaps because the Academy didn't know if Woodlawn, a transexual, should be nominated as Best Supporting Actor or Best Supporting Actress. My opinion: nobody lobbied for Woodlawn to be nominated and it was all a bad taste hoax joke at Woodlawn's expense. Still, Woodlawn is the lynchpin of the whole thing and possesses tremendous energy, so she gets an A for effort.
When all is said and done, TRASH is actually a cut above most of the Warhol-Morrissey-Dallesandro films, partly because it gives us plenty of Dallesandro nudity, partly because it is freakish in a way that still holds up today, and partly because--largely due to Woodlawn, Miller, and Forth--it has a darkly comic edge. Still, most fans will hit the fast-forward more than once, and non-fans will consider the whole thing unbearably bad.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
on April 23, 1999
Paul Morrissey's film "Trash", a fascinating glimpse into film history,is probably the first extremely popular underground film( following on the heels of "The Chelsea Girls" and "Flesh").It is a sprawling gem of filth and squalor, a clean break from the predominantly boring Hollywood movies of the time. Filmed with a handheld camera and including long takes of actors spouting bizarre dialogue. Warhol Superstars Joe Dallesandro and Holly Woodlawn are baptized by fire in this oddity, a must for anyone interested in cinema verite and the New York underground movement.
on September 23, 1999
When I saw this movie back in the l970s, I was knocked out of my BVD's with Joe the Magnificent. I had never seen a creature like him before: gorgeous, tough, sweet, funny and sex personified. I've read where this movie was NOT improvised, that Paul Morrisey adhered to a professional script and was a strict, but creative director. Then, I've heard it was just the opposite. I really don't think Joe was faking his drug induced stupor, expressions, mumblings. I loved Holly Woodlawn but nearly upchucked when her hideous, pregnant sister entered the picture. Gross is too mild a word. That drooling wet mouth and buck teeth, her bloated figure, yuck! I wish that sad little lost child, Andrea Feldman, had a bigger part. Thankfully, she was showcased in Andy Warhol's HEAT, another favorite. Once I was in the Village during that time and my boyfriend told me Joe Dellasandro was walking just ahead. I fled--not wanting to see a real embodiment of a movie icon. The same thing happened when Liz Taylor left the theater each night during her starring role in "The Little Foxes" during the 80s. Each night I would study the gigantic crowds, waiting to glimpse her. But when I'd see the stage door open and she began to make her exit, I fled. Reality's a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there. Gotta run and watch Joe, my Joe, my wonderful Joe in "Trash." A real underground classic.
on April 19, 2012
Dallesandro was one of the first actors to show himself naked. TRASH was one of a trilogy of films. I believe the last movie he was in, at least that I saw, was THE COTTON CLUB. At one time he was driving a cab in Hollywood. There hasn't been much mention of him in many years.
He was interviewed in the special section of BEEFCAKE, (DVD) that was about a guy in Los Angeles who photographed young men for his publication called PHYSIQUE PICTORIAL That film is now long ago too and Dallesandro is morphing into his senior years. He starred in a few more Warhol films and looked and acted like the male hustler he was. He was very popular in the 60's and now a cult figure of the past. Amazon has all of his films.
on May 7, 2013
I had been interested for some time in seeing one of Paul Morrisseys earlier films after seeing and enjoying both Flesh For Frankenstein and Blood For Dracula. Both films were truly memorably campy, gory, sexually strange and bizzare. They had that certain unusual quality that is hard to describe, but none the less I really liked both films. This is the first from the trilogy of Flesh, Trash and Heat that I have seen. I found the film utlimately boring in general, but there was a certain experimental quality I liked. That signature Morrissey feel. The film is more of an exploration of a few days in the life of a junkie played by Joe Dallesandro, who suprisingly does a pretty good naturalistic acting job in this film that outshines his very poor performances in Blood for Dracula and Flesh for Frankenstein. But then again the backdrop of New York city and the naturalistic acting method coupled with improvisation probably wouldnt be too hard to do considering a junkie could generally be played convincingly as a dull personality with some earthy and basic qualities. I must say that this film is very bland and explorative, but Holly Woodlawn was amazingly good as Joes room mate. Her acting was truly pretty marvelous. I mean nearly oscar worthy. Other than that there is some graphic drug use, graphic sexually suggestive language, a couple of R rated sex scenes and a whole lot of bad acting and boring conversation. This is petty much experimental territory here, and this certainly isnt a bad film as an exploitive production, but It deserves 2 stars for its timeless originality and a third for Woodlawns performance. The obvious focus though is Joe and his glorious body and member which present themselves in their naked rawness off and on through out the movie. The title says it all. The film is pretty much Trash, but its good Trash.
on April 24, 2012
Mumbled dialog and a simplistic plot cannot get in the way of Warhol's attempt to display the trashy lives of trashy people, and Joe Dallesandro is tops in every way. Dallesandro's unassuming approach shows a man trying to improve his crummy life without tearing other people down. He tries to ignore the flaws of Holly Woodlawn's character and tries to ride above them. Paul Morrissey's writing and directing are not refined, but they're direct and allow the characters to tell the story.
on June 5, 2011
HIPPIE: usually a young person who rejects conventional Society,..Meet Joe (Dallesandro) a Junkie with nothing to do but to parade nude most of the entire Film, and who gets high in a regular basis living from one fix to the next, and when he is not in that state of mind he feels exhausted, depleted, drained, worn out as almost to avoid the constant barrage of words and yelling coming from his irritating, annoying roommate, who is always picking up junk from the garbage dump so she can furnish her basement, Meet: Holly, who's only dream in life is to be on Welfare, as she puts it..."I was born on Welfare, I need it, I deserve it, and I'll...die on Welfare!" No wonder Joe is in a constant self induced Coma, so fatigued without any energy left, not even to sexually please the pestering Holly
WOW, I couldn't take my eyes off these Pitiful, Ridiculously Funny individuals, I was on the floor laughing, "TRASH" a Film Documentary, so honest and genuine to think it was made over 40 years ago, It hasn't aged a bit!, Yesterday was LSD, today is Cocaine or whatever. The Film has that look of a home video, with tight unsteady camera shots and abrupt scene changes, a surreal experience about human beings at their lowest, I felt like I was peeking into their screwed up lifes. Definitely is Not a Film for everyone, Nudity, Sex, Graphic Language, Drugs...etc. For days every time I thought of this Film I would burst into laughter. To Andy Warhol and his Group of Wacky Characters wherever they might be,...Peace and Love, Man! ...Thank You D.D.
on October 26, 2014
One reviewer really said it all about this movie, that the best thing one can get from watching it is hoping Joe D'Alessandro gets naked and he mostly always does. No one needs to expect a plot or good acting - you'll be sorely disappointed. We saw it in 1970, a time when shock value was a reason to do, say, or see anything and Warhol's 'stars' were all on that bandwagon. It is certainly a product of the free love anything goes drug experiment era. I actually remembered absolutely nothing about it pretty quickly except that I'd had me some eye candy.
on February 6, 2002
This film deals with drugs, very precisely heroin. We are in the post hippy period when drugs became an addiction after having been a life style. The drug addict is reduced in his sexuality, in his thinking and in his social life. He only survives in a hostile environment. But that was in 1970. The environment of the drug addict is either looking for easy kicks by flirting with drugs (high-school students for example), or for sexual kicks among young middle class couples or people who try to use the uninhibited life of the drug addict to have physical contacts with them or to beef up their own boring and fading relations, or for some advantage they can get from them in exchange of some welfare money (social workers for example). This leads to the sad conclusion that drug addicts who look for a certain liberation in a trip beyond limits find themselves entirely trapped in a fake world where alienation is demultiplied by their addiction. The film is of course also a piece of art by the fact that it refuses any kind of special effects or heavy production and the pictures only speak because they are plain, simple, and yet tremendously worked on by the simple technique of the camera, physical acting and voices. The expressivity of the film comes from those simple elements and the realistic revealing dialogue that goes along with it. The feeling we get is that of a totally poignant fatality that pens up the drug addict in a fully lost battle for survival. There seems to be only death at the end of the road.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU