Movie of the Day

A Dirty Shame

Trying to squeeze in a few more John Waters films before the end of the year, I watched A Dirty Shame for the second time. The real shame of this movie is that it looks like it might turn out to be Waters’ last. The director was contractually obligated to turn in an edit that received an R rating. This is too often the case in America where an NC-17 rating can really kill a film both in theatrical release, as many theaters refuse to run them and big rental chains such as Blockbuster refuse to stock them. This is not only a John Waters film, but the story of a band of misfits who become sex addicts after suffering accidental concussions, and join forces in a mission come up with a new sex act, so there were bound to be objections over the content. When Waters asked the rating board what he would need to cut in order to get an R rating, one of them reportedly said “we stopped taking notes after a while” and another quipped “it you cut out everything you need to in order to get an R, the movie would be 10 minutes long.” I have only seen the original NC-17 cut, and can imagine that so much had to be cut out of it to reduce it to an R that the version the first audiences saw made little sense. The print ads for the film had to be altered, reducing the ridiculously large prosthetic breast worn by Selma Blair in the more conservative areas of the country, which actually probably just worked to make the ads salacious rather than ridiculous. I actually think this one of Waters’ best films and Tracy Ullman is amazing as a prude working class housewife who becomes a sex addict after getting bumped in the head by a tow truck driven by Johnny Knoxville. But it is also not surprising that all the cuts and marketing restrictions made this a big financial disappointment from which John Waters has yet to recover. His planned Christmas movie, Fruitcake, has been repeatedly announced then canceled then announced again.  I sure hope something happens, because the thought of living in a world where they are no new John Waters movie seems too depressing.

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