Female Trouble

Female Trouble

Infobox Film
name = Female Trouble

caption = US film poster
director = John Waters
producer = John Waters
writer = John Waters
starring = Divine
David Lochary
Mary Vivian Pearce
Mink Stole
Edith Massey
Michael Potter
Cookie Mueller
music = Joe Renzetti
cinematography = John Waters
editing = Charles Roggero
distributor = New Line Cinema
released = October 4, 1974
runtime = Original cut
97 min.
16mm cut
92 min.
Theatrical cut
89 min.
country = United States
language = English
budget = $25,000
amg_id = 1:17058
imdb_id = 0072979

"Female Trouble" is a 1974 comedy film written, produced, and directed by John Waters starring Divine, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mink Stole, Edith Massey, Michael Potter, Cookie Mueller, and Susan Walsh.cite web|url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072979/|title=Female Trouble|publisher=IMDb|accessdate=2008-09-12]

The film is dedicated to Manson Family member Charles "Tex" Watson. Waters' prison visits to Watson inspired the "crime is beauty" theme of the film, and Waters used a toy wooden helicopter Watson made for him in the credits.

Plot synopsis

After failing to get the cha-cha heel shoes she wants for Christmas, juvenile delinquent Dawn Davenport (Divine) breaks into a violent rage and pushes her mother into the Christmas tree. She runs away from home and, while hitchhiking, gets picked up by Earl Peterson (also Divine), a fat man driving an Edsel station wagon. Peterson drives Davenport to a dump, where they have sex. When she becomes pregnant and demands money from him, he tells her, "Go fuck yourself", which Divine had indeed done by playing both roles.

Dawn gives birth to her daughter Taffy and works as a waitress, go-go dancer, hooker, and petty thief — working the latter two jobs with delinquent friends Chiclet (Susan Walsh) and Concetta (Cookie Mueller). When Dawn complains to them about the demands of motherhood, they suggest she cheer herself up by getting her hair done by a stylist named Gator Nelson (Michael Potter), who lives with his morbidly obese aunt, Ida (Edith Massey).

Dawn becomes a client of Gator's at the Lipstick Beauty Salon, owned by the fascists Donald (David Lochary) and Donna Dasher (Mary Vivian Pearce). Dawn and Gator marry, but their marriage is complicated by the fact that Taffy (Mink Stole), now fourteen years old, hates Gator. When Taffy catches her mother and stepfather having sex, Gator suggests she join them in bed, to which Taffy replies, "I wouldn't suck your lousy dick if I was suffocating and there was oxygen in your balls!"

Fed up with Gator's infidelities and his penchant for reading magazines while penetrating her with tools such as hammers and pliers, Dawn leaves Gator and starts divorce proceedings. She seeks solace at the Lipstick Beauty Salon, where the diabolical Dashers ask her to be a "glamorous guinea pig" for a "beauty experiment": they want to test Jean Genet's theory that "crime equals beauty". At their behest, Dawn performs several crimes including knocking her daughter unconscious with a chair and later killing her for becoming a Hare Krishna. She also amputates the hand of her nemesis Ida Nelson who, distraught that her nephew Gator has left town and blaming Dawn for it, disfigures her face with acid.

Dawn lands in the hospital and though hideously disfigured, the Dashers and the other Dreamlanders convince her she's pretty and discourage her from having reconstructive plastic surgery. After leaving the hospital, Dawn returns to find her home redecorated by the Dashers, who've kidnapped and confined Ida to an oversized bird cage. At this point Dawn amputates Ida's hand. Taffy comes home and after becoming unhinged at the sight of a grown woman in a bird cage with a bloody stump, pleads with her mother to reveal the identity of her real father, which she reluctantly does.

Taffy finds her father living in a dilapidated house and drinking excessively. She stabs him to death with a butcher knife after he tries to sexually assault her. When Taffy returns home and announces she is joining a Hare Krishna sect, Dawn warns her she will kill her if she does.

Dawn, who now has grotesque hair, make-up and outfits provided by the Dashers, creates a nightclub act. Backstage on opening night, Taffy appears after freeing Ida from the bird cage. Upon discovering that Taffy is now a Hare Krishna, Dawn murders her while the Dashers and their minions cheer her on.

Dawn performs her nightclub act, which includes jumping on a trampoline and wallowing in a playpen filled with dead fish. She revels in the ideal that beauty is an art form bourne from crime:

She then yells out, "Who wants to die for art?", and starts shooting into the crowd. Several people are wounded and others are trampled while fleeing the scene. Police allow the Dashers to leave after Donald and Donna claim they're upright citizens caught in a bloody rampage. Dawn flees into a forest but is soon arrested by the police.

At Dawn's trial, the Dashers are granted "total immunity" by the judge in exchange for their testimony against her. They claim to be shocked by Dawn's crime spree, although they engineered and encouraged it. Ida testifies against Dawn for kidnapping her and amputating her hand, when actually the Dashers kidnapped Ida and told Dawn to cut off her hand (even providing her with the axe). After Dawn is found guilty and sentenced to die in the electric chair, the Dashers are seen paying Ida for her testimony.

In jail awaiting execution, Dawn has a lesbian affair with another prisoner (Elizabeth Coffey). Dawn tells her lover being executed will make her famous, "like winning an Academy Award". Indeed, when a delirious Dawn is strapped to the electric chair, she gives a speech as if she were winning an Oscar.

After receiving a fatal electric shock, Dawn is immortalized as her distorted face is shown in freeze frame with the end credits rolling over it.


* Divine as Dawn Davenport / Earl Peterson
* David Lochary as Donald Dasher
* Mary Vivian Pearce as Donna Dasher
* Mink Stole as Taffy Davenport
* Edith Massey as Ida Nelson
* Michael Potter as Gator Nelson
* Cookie Mueller as Concetta
* Susan Walsh as Chiclette
* Ed Peranio as Wink
* Paul Swift as Butterfly
* George Figgs as Dribbles
* Susan Lowe as Vikki
* Channing Wilroy as Prosecutor
* Elizabeth Coffey as Ernestine (Divine's cellmate)
* George Figgs as Dribbles

Alternate versions

The initial 16 mm release of the film which was shown at colleges ran 92 minutes. However, when the film was blown up to 35 mm and shown theatrically, it was cut to 89 minutes. This version was the only version seen in America for many years. However, a recent restoration was done of the original cut, which ran 97 minutes (it played at this length in Europe, however, since its initial release). The 97 minute version was shown only in selected theaters and was included in an out-of-print DVD set paired with "Pink Flamingos" ("Female Trouble" is still available on DVD as a single disc and as part of a DVD box set, "Very Crudely Yours, John Waters"). This version also has a soundtrack remixed in stereo surround. The 97 minute version contains some additional scenes, including the chase through the woods, as well as an appearance by Sally Turner, the Elizabeth Taylor look-alike customer in the Lipstick Beauty Salon. (Turner served as Divine's double in the junkyard sex scene between Dawn Davenport and Earl Peterson.)

Production notes

* The lyrics to the title song "Female Trouble", sung by Divine, were written by Waters and set to a pre-existing piece of music.
* The unique production design is by Dreamlander Vincent Peranio, who created Davenport's apartment in a condemned suite above a friend's store.
* Divine chose to perform his own stunts, the most difficult of which involved doing flips on a trampoline during his nightclub act. Waters took Divine to a YMCA, where he took lessons until the act was perfected.
* The birth scene was saved until the end of shooting, when Dreamlander Susan Lowe gave birth to a son. The umbilical cord was fashioned out of prophylactics filled with liver, while the baby (Ramsey McLean) was doused in fake blood. The scene created quite a scandal for Lowe's mother-in-law, who arrived on the set in a state of confusion. [cite video
people = John Waters |date2 = |month2 = |year2 = 2004 |title = FemaleTrouble DVD Special Ed. |url = |format = DVD |medium = |publisher = New Line Cinema|location = |accessdate = |accessmonth= September |accessyear = 2008 |time = |id = |isbn = |oclc = |quote =

* Although Dawn Davenport received the death penalty at the end of the film, capital punishment in the United States was suspended from 1972 to 1976 due to the Supreme Court's ruling in the case of "Furman v. Georgia".
*On the 2004 DVD Directors Special Comments, Waters states that the original working title of the film was "Rotten Mind, Rotten Face". [cite video
people = John Waters |date2 = |month2 = |year2 = 2004 |title = FemaleTrouble DVD Special Ed. |url = |format = DVD |medium = |publisher = New Line Cinema|location = |accessdate = |accessmonth= September |accessyear = 2008 |time = |id = |isbn = |oclc = |quote =


External links

* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqqRC8DX4KY&mode=related&search= Official trailer]
* [http://www.dreamlandnews.com Dreamland Studios]

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