Picture: B- Sound: B- Extras: B Film: C-
I remember hearing horror
stories of a film called Myra
Breckinridge many years back and my inclination to see the film
heightened. When I heard about its
release onto DVD I knew that would be a prime time to finally catch up on this
controversial title. After seeing the
film I can clearly see why.
How hard it must be for
one film to make Raquel Welch both
attractive and atrocious at the same time, that’s certainly a feat! The storyline is ridiculous as Myron
Breckinridge goes to Europe in order to have a sex change operation and then
return to the U.S. as a sexy man hating Myra.
The film is based on Gore Vidal’s racy book. The film plays out more like a sitcom of
one-liners and vignettes, which make for an uneven portrayal. Some say that this is a commentary on the
movie business in general, but would stand as one of the most controversial
films until the release of Caligula
in 1979, which was also originally written by Gore Vidal. This would also be a film, like Caligula, where the cast, producers,
writers, and director were all making a different type of film.
The film has always been
available in alternate versions, most of which were the R-rated version, which
eliminated much of the content that originally gave the film it’s
X-rating. The DVD allows us to see both
versions of the film, which seems crazy by today’s standards because most will
find the material to be nothing out of the ordinary for today’s R-rated
films. However, if you think back to
1970 and other films from that time that also received an X-rating, you quickly
understand, i.e. A Clockwork Orange
(1971) or Midnight Cowboy (1969).
Perhaps one of the biggest
downfalls over the years with this film has been its reputation and the people
involved, which seems like a parade of stars desperate to do a movie for
cash. People like Farrah Fawcett, Mae
West, John Huston, and Rex Reed are among the few. The film was directed by Michael Sarne, who
would go on to do virtually unknown films and made for TV movies, but is it any
wonder? He originally turned the film
down, which was a good idea, but then they flashed dollars signs at him to
convince him, if it weren’t for the fact that he only had one film to his credit,
he probably would have turned the other cheek.
Without a doubt the DVD
for this film is far superior to the film and makes its ownership almost
redeemable, especially for Welch fans, which are most likely the target. First are the technical specs, which are
average in that the film is presented anamorphically in its original scope 2.35
X 1 transfer for both the theatrical and DVD Special Edition. This is the best the film has looked with
that inserted footage as previous versions always had an uneven look between
regular and inserted footage. The film
comes with a 2.0 Dolby Stereo mix that sounds ok, but nothing overly
awesome. In fact that audio presentation
ranks up with that of Fox’s issue of Mother,
Jug’s & Speed, which is also part of the Raquel Welch issues.
The DVD also contains two
audio commentaries provided by the Director and the second by Welch
herself! One should be aware that the
director provides the commentary for the Special Edition, while the theatrical
version contains Welch’s commentary. Some people have said that this film is
ahead of its time, but by listening to these commentaries one might not
entirely believe that, or will they?
There is also an AMC Backstory:
Myra Breckinridge about all the chaos that fell on the film. The DVD also contains trailers for the film
and other Raquel Welch titles available now through Fox.
Personally, I think that
the story behind the film works much better than the actual film itself and that alone makes this DVD worth
having. While the film looks ok and
sounds decent, this is not a demonstration quality by any stretch of the
imagination. The extras are the weight
of this release and Fox has come through very well in pulling this together.
- Nate Goss