Friday, January 9, 2009

They Didn't Put Out

Famed record producer and impresario Lou Adler directed Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1981, Rhino, 87 minutes, $20), a sideways glimpse into punk and roll with all the grace of an elevator operator, but there is much about it to like, especially if you toss away the turgid and predictable rags-to-riches storyline and typical showbiz stuff. An adolescent Diane Lane (15-years-old or so, in only her second or third outing) totally nails it as the central figure, a riot girl before her time, a blank-faced teenage nihilist improvising a music career that’s poised intriguingly between true self-expression and nascent capitalism. She is surrounded by an even younger Laura Dern as one of her band mates, Tubes funny boy Fee Waybill as a rocker on the downswing, Christine Lahti as a baby boomer Aunt, and a movie band called The Looters, made up of Sex Pistols Paul Cook and Steve Jones (who contribute songs), the Clash’s Paul Simonon, and, of all people, an unbelievably youthful Ray Winstone as a bratty-but-sensitive and forever snarling lead singer. It’s always difficult to imagine the coulda-beens, but, stripped of Adler’s pedestrian filmmaking, and with Lane’s evocative presence as a charter member of the blank generation and screenwriter Nancy Dowd’s underlying theme of feminine teenage angst this might have been a truly prĂ©ciscent excursion into teenage wasteland.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I actually love this movie! It's a total nostalgia trip for me--I think it was one of the first punk movies ever made, and they used to show it on the USA channel's Nightflight show like three times a month, back when USA was still a fledgling underground hipster/MTV wannabe channel. I also think it's Diane Lane's finest piece of cinematic work, but, then again, I also think Barbarella is Jane Fonda's greatest, and Demolition Man is Sly Stallone's best. So what do I know? Come to think of it, Lane is also in Demolition Man, but she's not as good as in The Fabulous Stains. Ahh, Third Degree Burns...those were the days!