Hairspray (1988 film)
- For the 2007 film of the same name, see Hairspray (2007 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Waters|
|Produced by||John Waters
|Written by||John Waters|
Leslie Ann Powers
Michael St. Gerard
|Music by||Kenny Vance|
|Edited by||Janice Hampton|
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
Hairspray is a 1988 American romantic musical comedy film written and directed by John Waters, and starring Ricki Lake, Divine (in his final film role), Debbie Harry, Sonny Bono, Jerry Stiller, Leslie Ann Powers, Colleen Fitzpatrick, and Michael St. Gerard. Hairspray was a dramatic departure from Waters' earlier works, with a much broader intended audience. In fact, Hairspray 's PG is the mildest rating a Waters film has received; most of his previous films were rated X by the MPAA. Set in 1962 Baltimore, Maryland, the film revolves around self-proclaimed "pleasantly plump" teenager Tracy Turnblad as she pursues stardom as a dancer on a local TV show and rallies against racial segregation.
Hairspray was only a moderate success upon its initial theatrical release, earning a modest gross of $8 million. However, it managed to attract a larger audience on home video in the early 1990s and became a cult classic. Most critics praised the film, although some were displeased with the overall campiness.
In 2002, the film was adapted into a Broadway musical of the same name, which won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical in 2003. A second film version of Hairspray, an adaptation of the stage musical, was also released by New Line Cinema in 2007, which included many changes of scripted items from the original. The film also ranks #444 on Empire magazine's 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time.
Tracy Turnblad and her best friend, Penny Pingleton, audition for The Corny Collins Show, a popular Baltimore teenage dance show based on the real-life Buddy Deane Show. Penny is too nervous and stumbles over her answers, and another girl, Nadine, is cut for being black (there is a 'Negro Day' on the show on the last Thursday of every month, she is told). However, despite being overweight, Tracy is a strong enough dancer to become a regular on the show, infuriating the show's reigning queen, Amber Von Tussle, a mean, privileged, beautiful high school classmate whose pushy stage parents, Velma and Franklin Von Tussle, own Tilted Acres amusement park (based on Baltimore's Gwynn Oak Amusement Park, where racial problems occurred). Tracy steals Amber's boyfriend, Link Larkin, and competes against her for the title of Miss Auto Show 1963, fueling Amber's hatred of her.
Tracy's growing confidence leads to her being hired as a plus-size model for the Hefty Hideaway clothing store owned by Mr. Pinky. She is also inspired to bleach, tease, and rat her big hair into styles popular in the 1960s. At school, a teacher brands her hairstyle as a "hair-don't" and sends her to the principal's office, from which Tracy is sent to special education classes, where she meets several black classmates who have been put there to hold them back academically. The students introduce Tracy to Motormouth Maybelle, an R&B record shop owner and host of the monthly "Negro Day" on The Corny Collins Show. They teach Tracy, Penny, and Link dance moves and Penny begins an interracial romance with Motormouth Maybelle's son, Seaweed. This horrifies Penny's mother, Prudence, who imprisons her daughter in her bedroom and tries to brainwash her into dating white boys and oppose integration with the help of a quack psychiatrist, Dr. Fredrickson. Seaweed later helps her break out of the house and run away. It is implied that she will never return, as she has finally broken free from her mother.
Undeterred, Tracy uses her newfound fame to champion the cause of racial integration with the help of Motormouth Maybelle, Corny Collins, his assistant Tammy, and Tracy's agoraphobic, slightly overbearing, and overweight mother, Edna. After a race riot at Tilted Acres results in Tracy's arrest, the Von Tussles grow more defiant in their opposition to racial integration. They plot to sabotage the Miss Auto Show 1963 pageant by planting a bomb in Velma's bouffant hairdo. The plan literally blows up in Velma's face when the bomb detonates prematurely, resulting in the Von Tussles' arrest by the Baltimore police after it lands on Amber's head. Tracy, who had won the crown but was disqualified for being in reform school, dethrones Amber after the governor of Maryland pardons her; Tracy then shows up at the competition, integrates the show, and encourages everyone to dance.
- Ricki Lake as Tracy Turnblad
- Divine as Edna Turnblad / Arvin Hodgepile
- Debbie Harry as Velma Von Tussle
- Sonny Bono as Franklin Von Tussle
- Jerry Stiller as Wilbur Turnblad
- Leslie Ann Powers as Penny Pingleton
- Colleen Fitzpatrick as Amber Von Tussle
- Michael St. Gerard as Link Larkin
- Clayton Prince as Seaweed J. Stubbs
- Ruth Brown as Motormouth Maybelle Stubbs
- Shawn Thompson as Corny Collins
- Mink Stole as Tammy
- Joann Havrilla as Prudence Pingleton
- Alan J. Wendl as Mr. Pinky
- Toussaint McCall as himself
- John Waters as Dr. Fredrickson
- Council members
- Josh Charles as Iggy
- Jason Downs as Bobby
- Holter Graham as I.Q. Jones
- Dan Griffith as Brad
- Regina Hammond as Pam
- Bridget Kimsey as Consuella
- Frankie Maldon as Dash
- Brooke Stacy Mills as Lou Ann Levorowski
- John Orofino as Fender
- Kim Webb as Carmelita
- Debra Wirth as Shelly
- Special appearances
John Waters wrote the screenplay under the title of White Lipstick, with the story loosely based on real events. The Corny Collins Show is based on the real-life Buddy Deane Show, a local dance party program which pre-empted Dick Clark's American Bandstand in the Baltimore area during the 1950s and early 1960s. Waters had previously written about "The Buddy Deane Show" in his 1983 book Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters.
Principal photography took place in and around the Baltimore area during the summer of 1987. The school scenes were filmed at Perry Hall High School with set locations including the library, a first-floor English class, and the principal's office. In the scene set in the principal's office, the Harry Dorsey Gough (see Perry Hall Mansion) coat-of-arms that once hung in the main lobby can be seen through the doorway. The scenes set at Tilted Acres amusement park were filmed at Dorney Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
The film was Divine's final film and his only film with Waters in which he didn't play the lead. Originally, Divine was considered to play both Tracy Turnblad and her mother Edna. Executives from New Line Cinema, the film's distributor, discouraged this concept, and it was eventually dropped. 
A handful of scenes were cut while in post-production, some of which explained certain elements seen in the film. One involved Tracy breaking into the Von Tussles' home, stealing Amber's hair bleach, and bleaching her hair in Amber's sink, thus explaining Tracy's change of hair color later in the film.
Another deleted scene involved live roaches crawling out of Tracy's hair (presumably placed there by Amber), which becomes a significant plot point throughout the rest of the film. When discussing his decision to ultimately cut the scene, Waters explained "Bob Shaye, the head of New Line, probably correctly, said, 'This doesn't work. What is this, a Buñuel movie?' [...] And he was probably right." An alternate scene is instead included in which Amber claims to have seen a roach in Tracy's hair, but she is presumed to be joking and/or lying.
The final deleted scene was a musical number which involved the teens performing an obscure 1960s dance called "The Stupidity" at the auto show just prior to Tracy being released from reform school, but again, Waters ultimately decided it wasn't appropriate, stating, "[B]asically, I thought, you know, you don't want your leading man to look stupid right in the big finale."
The film currently holds a 97% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes; it is Waters' second-highest-rated film (behind Multiple Maniacs); the site's consensus states "Hairspray is perhaps John Waters' most accessible film, and as such, it's a gently subversive slice of retro hilarity."
Hairspray opened on February 26, 1988 in 79 North American theaters, where it grossed US$577,287 in its opening weekend. On March 11, it expanded to 227 theaters, where it grossed $966,672 from March 11–13. It ended its theatrical run with $8,271,108.
In mid-2002, Margo Lion teamed with writers Marc Shaiman and Thomas Meehan to turn Hairspray into a Broadway musical production. The show opened on August 15, 2002 starring Marissa Jaret Winokur as Tracy and Harvey Fierstein as Edna. The show went on to win eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, in 2003. The show closed on January 4, 2009.
In 2006, New Line joined forces with Adam Shankman to adapt the Broadway show into a movie musical. The film was released July 20, 2007, starring John Travolta as Edna, Michelle Pfeiffer as Velma, Christopher Walken as Wilbur, Amanda Bynes as Penny Pingleton, Brittany Snow as Amber Von Tussle, Queen Latifah as Motormouth Maybelle, James Marsden as Corny, Zac Efron as Link, and newcomer Nikki Blonsky as Tracy. The film had a $75 million budget and earned over $200 million worldwide.
The soundtrack was released in 1988 by MCA Records. The album featured one original song by Rachel Sweet and eleven other songs mostly from the early 1960s by Gene Pitney, Toussaint McCall and The Ikettes, among others. Two songs, "You Don't Own Me" and "Mama Didn't Lie" came out in 1964 and 1963
- Additional songs
Other songs appear in the film, but are not on the soundtrack, due to licensing restrictions, because many of the songs listed were on the Cameo Parkway Label, a recording label owned by Allen Klein.
- "Limbo Rock" – Chubby Checker
- "Let's Twist Again" - Chubby Checker
- "Day-O" – Pia Zadora
- "Duke of Earl" – Gene Chandler
- "Train to Nowhere" – The Champs
- "Dancin' Party" – Chubby Checker
- "The Fly" – Chubby Checker
- "The Bird" – The Dutones
- "Pony Time" – Chubby Checker
- "Hide and Go Seek" – Bunker Hill
- "Mashed Potato Time" – Dee Dee Sharp
- "Gravy (For My Mashed Potatoes)" – Dee Dee Sharp
- "Waddle, Waddle" – The Bracelets
- "Do the New Continental" – The Dovells
- "You Don't Own Me" – Lesley Gore
- "Life's Too Short" – The Lafayettes
- Cross-dressing in film and television
- Racial integration
- African-American Civil Rights Movement in popular culture
- "HAIRSPRAY (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. 1988-05-31. Retrieved 2012-11-05.
- "Hairspray (1988)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-06-12.
- Hairspray at Rotten Tomatoes; last accessed May 5, 2007.
- "Empire Features The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time". Empireonline.com. Retrieved August 14, 2011.
- John Waters; Ricki Lake (November 5, 2002). "'Hairspray' DVD Commentary by: John Waters and Ricki Lake". New Line Home Video.
- Robert Maier (2011). Low Budget Hell: Making Underground Movies with John Waters. Davidson, North Carolina, U.S.A.: Full Page Publishing. pp. 273–297. ISBN 978-0-9837708-0-0.
- David Marks. "Perry Hall's Schools: The Heart of the Community".
- "Fun Facts About Perry Hall".
- Egan, James. John Waters: Interviews (Paperback ed.). University Press of Mississippi. pp. xxiii. ISBN 9781617031823.
- "Hairspray". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Hairspray at Rotten Tomatoes
- "Hairspray (1988)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 14, 2011.
- "Awards for Hairspray". IMDB.
- "Hairspray (2007)". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved August 14, 2011.
- Hairspray at the Internet Movie Database
- Hairspray at Box Office Mojo
- Hairspray at Rotten Tomatoes
- Hairspray at Metacritic
- Movieline, February 19, 1988: interview with John Waters on the making of Hairspray