Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains
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|Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains|
Original film poster
|Directed by||Lou Adler|
|Produced by||Joe Roth|
|Written by||Rob Morton (Pseudonym of Nancy Dowd)|
|Edited by||Tom Benko|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
Corinne Burns is a seventeen-year-old girl whose mother has recently died from lung cancer. Working in a fast food restaurant to help support herself and her younger sister, Corinne is interviewed by a local television station for a story about her town's dwindling economy. During the interview, Corinne becomes angry and belligerent towards the reporter, eventually lashing out at her boss and getting fired. The segment resonates with the station's teenage viewers, who see Corinne as a kindred spirit. The station does a follow-up interview, which primarily consists of Corinne acting flippant and making sarcastic remarks to the journalist. However, she does manage to slip in a plug for her garage band "The Stains", which consists of her, her sister Tracy, and their cousin Jessica.
Emboldened by appearing on television, Corinne attends a concert put on by small-time promoter Lawnboy, featuring the washed-up metal band the Metal Corpses and their opening act, an up-and-coming punk band called the Looters. Eager to end hostilities between the jaded Metal Corpses and the hedonistic Looters, Lawnboy signs the Stains without having heard them perform. Corinne and the Stains join the bands on tour, witnessing firsthand the bands' animosity towards one another, largely the result of the conflict between the aging Lou, the frontman for the Metal Corpses, and Billy, the Looters' volatile lead singer.
At their first show, the Stains prove to be completely inept as a band: Neither Jessica nor Tracy can play instruments, and Corinne sings in an off-key monotone. The audience reacts angrily, prompting Corinne to lash out at them for a variety of real and perceived faults. After the show, the Metal Corpses' guitar player is found dead in the bathroom; the Metal Corpses decide to leave the tour, with Lawnboy making the Looters the new headliners with the Stains as their opening act. A dissatisfied Billy asks Lawnboy to replace the Stains as soon as possible.
At their next show, Corinne debuts a new, more extreme punk look, with hair dyed to resemble a skunk and a see-through blouse worn over a pair of bikini briefs. Claiming that she "never puts out," she goes on another tirade, garnering media attention. While male journalists focus on Corinne's antisocial attitude and the band's lack of talent, female journalists perceive Corinne's rants as calls for female empowerment and hail the Stains as a new voice of feminism. Soon after, the Stains become a national sensation, with girls all over the country emulating Corinne in every way possible, from dying their hair to running away from home.
At a tour stop, Billy and Corinne get a motel room, where Billy attempts to seduce Corinne by sharing his feelings about the band and his own frustrations as an artist. Over the course of their conversation, Billy recites the lyrics to a song, "Join the Professionals," which sums up his most personal feelings about the state of the world. (This was an actual song written and previously recorded by Jones and Cook's post-Pistols band, The Professionals.) At their next stop, the band is met by Lawnboy's agent, Dave Robell, with the intended replacement act for the Stains (Black Randy and the Metrosquad). Although Billy tells Corinne that he only wanted her replaced early on in the tour, Corinne lashes out at him, and at the Stains' next show, she plagiarizes Billy's song, which skyrockets the band to even further stardom. With Robell's encouragement, Corinne signs a new contract, cutting Lawnboy out of any royalties and making the Stains the new headliners of the tour.
At the Stains' first show, Billy delivers a speech to the crowd about how the Stains have betrayed their "never put out" mantra by becoming corporate sell outs; when the Stains come onstage, the fans riot, and Corinne is attacked by a girl with a tube of hair dye. The tour becomes a financial disaster and Robell cancels the Stains' contract. Corinne responds by attacking him with a bottle opener and robbing him of the money he has in his wallet; Corinne then presents it to Lawnboy as an apology.
The next morning, Corinne appears on television, where a journalist chastises her for having been a poor role model to her fans. Billy apologies for ruining Corinne's career and asks her to come back as the Looters' opening act. Corinne refuses; as she wanders the streets, she overhears a radio broadcast identifying the Stains' first song as a hit record. Some time in the future, the Stains make their MTV debut, having become a successful act on Lawnboy's new record label.
Shot in British Columbia, Canada, the film also featured Ray Winstone, Christine Lahti, ex-Sex Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook, along with Paul Simonon from The Clash, and Vince Welnick and Fee Waybill from The Tubes. Los Angeles punk icon Black Randy from Black Randy and the Metrosquad makes an appearance as himself and as "Mexican Randy".
There are brief appearances by Elizabeth Daily as a hotel maid, and Brent Spiner. Musician Barry Ford plays the busdriver named Lawnboy. Ford wrote the majority of the soundtrack including the title song "All Washed Up"; which features Jones, Cook, and Simonon.
- Peter Donat as Harley Dennis
- Diane Lane as Corinne Burns
- Marin Kanter as Tracy Burns
- Laura Dern as Jessica McNeil
- Christine Lahti as Aunt Linda
- Janet Wright as Aunt Linda's Friend - Brenda
- Mia Bendixsen as Pregnant Girl in Ladies Room
- Stuart Ferguson as Gold Key D.J.
- Ray Winstone as Billy - Vocals for The Looters
- Paul Simonon as Johnny - Bassist for The Looters
- Steve Jones as Steve - Guitarist for The Looters
- Paul Cook as Danny - Drummer for The Looters
- Fee Waybill as Lou Corpse - Vocals for The Metal Corpses
- Vince Welnick as Jerry Jervey - Guitarist for The Metal Corpses
- Vern Willis as Corpses Bass
The film, originally titled All Washed Up, was directed by music business tycoon Lou Adler for Paramount Pictures and written by Nancy Dowd, who won the Best Screenplay Academy Award for Coming Home. Dowd took the pseudonym "Rob Morton" after being dissastisfied with the production process and final cut of the film. The movie was produced by Joe Roth, who would later become chairman of Walt Disney Studios. Punk rock journalist Caroline Coon was a technical advisor on the film.
The film was never given wide release. A 1982 opening in Denver, Colorado generated a poor response. The film was shelved and made its way to cable. Night Flight, the weekend counter-culture programming block on USA Network (which at the time was part-owned by Paramount) began regularly airing the film in 1984, where it found an audience. Off the positive reception of the airings, subdistributor Films Inc. licensed the film from Paramount, and it eventually made its way to the Art-House circuit. The film's theatrical run included engagements at Film Forum in New York City on Wednesday, March 6, 1985, in Chicago in April 1985, in Atlanta and Los Angeles in July 1985, and at the Theater of the Living Arts in Philadelphia from Friday, August 23 – Saturday, August 24, 1985.
In 1998, the film showed at the Chicago Underground Film Festival at the prompting of filmmaker Sarah Jacobson. In 2001, Marc Edward Heuck, then a projectionist at the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles, lobbied for its revival as a midnight show at the theatre, and the Nuart has screened the film multiple times since. It also played in 2005 at the Sydney Film Festival. In recent years, a private screening was held at the Yale University Department of Anthology in December 2006. The film enjoyed a two-day showing at Alamo Draft House - Ritz in Austin, Texas (December 1 and 8, 2008). The film aired on Turner Classic Movies as part of their Friday night feature, TCM Underground, on January 31, 2009. It was also shown as one of the films in the outdoor Top Down film series run by the Northwest Film Center in Portland, Oregon on August 6, 2009. Most recently, it was screened at the premiere of the Rocksploitation midnight movie series on July 10, 2010 at the Bridge Theater in San Francisco.
Rhino Home Video released a DVD on September 16, 2008. It is now out of print.
Fans of the film include musician/actor Jon Bon Jovi (who dated Stains star Diane Lane in the 1980s), Paul and Ariel Awesome of the punk fanzine Maximumrocknroll, Beat the Geeks "Movie Geek" Marc Edward Heuck, writer/podcaster Jake Fogelnest, and underground filmmaker Sarah Jacobson, as well as musician/actress Kate Nash who revealed in a web interview that she dyed her hair to match Corinne's. In 2000, Jacobson directed, with Sam Green, a short documentary on the film for the IFC television show Split Screen. In 2008, Heuck recorded a historical commentary track for the Rhino DVD, which was not included on the finished DVD; it is available for free download.
- The Professionals (band), singles
- Maslin, Janet (March 6, 1985). "Film: Rock Satire, 'Fabulous Stains'." The New York Times. Retrieved on July 4, 2009.
- Matre, Lynn Van (April 26, 1985). "'Fabulous Stains' only a mild punkish blot of a movie". Chicago Tribune.
- "Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains." August 23, 1985. Philadelphia Daily News.
- Northwest Film Center Top Down 2009
- http://landmarkafterdark.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=478&Itemid=1[full citation needed]
- Rabin, Nathan (2013-08-20). "Jake Fogelnest wants everyone to watch Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains". The Dissolve: Compulsory Viewing. Retrieved 2014-08-01.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains on IMDb
- Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains at the TCM Movie Database
- Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains at AllMovie
- Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains at Rotten Tomatoes
- Film website at Internet Archive
- Marc Edward Heuck's historical commentary
- page for ...The Fabulous Stains at The 80's Movies Rewind website