Sunday, July 15, 2007

Oh, Myra!

If “Myra Breckinridge” the film had been a Broadway musical first, I’ve no doubt it would have gone down in midnight movie history right alongside “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Raquel Welch’s Miss Myra is the precursor to Tim Curry’s Frankenfurter, with both actors playing gender and sexually ambiguous characters seducing naïve young lovers with equal panache. “Myra Breckinridge” works on so many levels it’s hard to keep track, from the film critic Rex Reed playing film critic Myron Breckinridge to “Miss” Mae West – the ultimate gay man in a woman’s body, perhaps the first transgender superstar – as a stud collecting Hollywood agent, of course. That Rex and Raquel, playing opposite sides of the same protagonist, flow easily, interchangeably, from one setup to the next, sometimes even playing the same scene together is a lovely symbolic nod to the desire to become one, be it with another person or with oneself. The classic movie clips commenting on the action like a Tinseltown, Greek chorus and the classic Miss West belting out numbers like “You Gotta Taste All The Fruit” are pure winking delight. The many critics who panned “Myra Breckinridge” decades ago when it was first released were as clueless as John Huston’s Buck Loner, for the film is nothing less than a brilliantly, thoughtfully, stupendously conceived work of art.

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