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Pink Flamingos

Original theatrical release poster
Directed by John Waters
Produced by John Waters
Written by John Waters
Narrated by John Waters
Starring Divine
David Lochary
Mink Stole
Edith Massey
Danny Mills
Mary Vivian Pearce
Music by John Waters
Cinematography John Waters
Editing by John Waters
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release date(s) 17 March 1972
11 April 1997 (25th)
Running time 92 min.
Re-release
107 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10,000
Gross revenue $6,000,000

Pink Flamingos is a 1972 American transgressive comedy directed by John Waters.[1] When the film was initially released, it caused a huge degree of controversy and thus became one of the most notorious cult films ever made. It made an underground star of the flamboyant female impersonator, Divine. The film also stars David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mink Stole, Danny Mills, Cookie Mueller, and Edith Massey. Produced on a budget of only $10,000, it was mostly shot on weekends in Phoenix, a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland. After screenings at universities across the U.S. including Harvard College in 1973, the film was picked up by New Line Cinema and became a nationally known film.[2]

Since its release it has had a rather devoted cult following and is one of John Waters' most famous or downright notorious films due to some shocking scenes and the wide range of perverse, taboo acts performed in the film. In 1997, for the 25th anniversary of the 1972 premiere, the film was re-released. The new version featured an improved stereo soundtrack (which, unlike the original, was made available to the general public, on compact disc), and after the end of the original movie the new version contained a brief video commentary by Waters, plus a few scenes cut from the original release. The re-release was rated NC-17 by the Motion Picture Association of America. This edition was later released on DVD.

The film came in at number 29 on the list of 50 Films to See Before You Die on a show in the United Kingdom.

Contents

Plot

Divine lives under the pseudonym "Babs Johnson" with her simple-minded, egg-loving mother Edie (Edith Massey), delinquent son Crackers (Danny Mills), and voyeuristic traveling companion Cotton (Mary Vivian Pearce). They reside in a mobile home, in front of which can be found a pair of eponymous plastic pink flamingos. The trailer is off Philpot Road in Phoenix, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore. After learning that Divine has been named "the filthiest person alive" by a tabloid paper, wealthy rivals Connie (Mink Stole) and Raymond Marble (David Lochary) set out to destroy the tight-knit family but come undone in the process.

The Marbles run an "adoption clinic," which is actually a black market baby ring. They kidnap young women, have them impregnated by their manservant, Channing (Channing Wilroy), and sell their babies to lesbian couples. The proceeds are used to finance a network of dealers selling heroin in inner-city elementary schools. Raymond also gets money by exposing himself to unsuspecting women in a park and stealing their purses when they flee. The Marbles send a spy named Cookie (Cookie Mueller) to the trailer in the guise of what Crackers thinks is a date. In one of the film's most infamous scenes, he has sex with her whilst crushing a live chicken between them as Cotton looks on voyeuristically. Cookie then informs the Marbles about Divine's real identity, her whereabouts, and her family, as well as information about her upcoming birthday party.

The Marbles send human feces to Divine as a birthday "gift" with a card addressing her as "fatso" and proclaiming themselves "the filthiest people alive". Worried her title has been seized, Divine proclaims whoever sent the package must die and her two associates agree. Meanwhile, at the Marbles, Channing dresses up as Connie and Raymond, wearing Connie's clothes and imitating their earlier overheard conversations. When the Marbles return home, they catch Channing imitating them and react with outrage, firing him and locking him in a closet until they can return from their chores and kick him out for good.

The birthday party starts as the Marbles arrive to spy on it. They witness a topless dancing woman with a snake, a contortionist who "lip syncs" a song with his exposed anus, and the gifts Divine receives, such as a pig's head, poppers and an axe. One of the guests, the Egg Man (Paul Swift), who delivers eggs to Edie daily, confesses his love for her and proposes marriage. She accepts his proposal and he carries Edie off in a wheelbarrow for a honeymoon around the egg industry. The Marbles, disgusted by the reveling, call the police, but this backfires when Divine and the other party goers kill the cops. Divine hacks up their bodies with the axe and the revelers eat them.

After the party ends, Divine and Crackers head to the Marbles' house (they received the address from an offscreen helper, the local gossip Patty Hitler) where they lick and rub everything in their house to spread their "filthiness", which excites them to the point of engaging in oral sex. Licking the furniture also causes it to "reject" the Marbles when they return home: when they try to sit down, the cushions fly up, throwing them to the floor. Divine and Crackers find Channing in a closet where he protests about his treatment by the Marbles, but they are not sympathetic as they tie him up and take him to the basement where the two pregnant girls are held. They free both girls and hand them a knife so they can emasculate him. (The characters erroneously use the verb castrate, which refers to a different act.)

Meanwhile, Connie and Raymond burn Divine's beloved trailer to the ground. Afterwards, Crackers, Cotton and Divine find the trailer reduced to flame and ash. This is the last straw for Divine, and soon after Connie and Raymond find that Channing has bled to death and the two girls are gone, Divine takes them hostage at gunpoint. She then calls the local media to witness the Marbles' trial and execution, as she proclaims her belief in "filth politics":

Blood does more than turn me on, Mr. Vader. It makes me come. And more than the sight of it, I love the taste of it. The taste of hot, freshly killed blood...Kill everyone now! Condone first degree murder! Advocate cannibalism! Eat shit! Filth are my politics! Filth is my life! Take whatever you like.

Divine holds a "kangaroo court", asks Cotton and Crackers for testimony, and sentences the bound and gagged Marbles to death for "first-degree stupidity" and "assholism." They tie the Marbles to a tree, coating them in tar and feathers. Divine then shoots them in the head and the media leave shortly afterward, satisfied with their scoop of a "live homicide".

Divine, Crackers, and Cotton talk about where to base their seat of operations next and they enthusiastically decide to relocate to Boise, Idaho. The infamous ending starts as Crackers, Cotton and Divine walk down the street, where they spot a dog and its owner. The dog defecates on the sidewalk, and Divine sits down next to it. She takes the feces in her hand and puts it in her mouth, proving as the narrator states, she is "not only the filthiest person in the world, but is also the world's filthiest actress".

Cast

The actor who plays the Singing Asshole, who performs at Divine's party, is not credited, and has remained anonymous at his own request.

Soundtrack

The film used a number of mainly single B-sides and a few hits of the late '50s/early '60s, sourced from John Waters' record collection when he made the film. They were released as a soundtrack CD in 1997 on the 25th anniversary release of the film on DVD.

  1. "The Swag" - Link Wray and His Ray Men
  2. "Intoxica" - The Centurions
  3. "Jim Dandy" - LaVern Baker
  4. "I'm Not a Juvenile Delinquent" - Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers
  5. "The Girl Can't Help It" - Little Richard
  6. "Ooh! Look-a-There, Ain't She Pretty?" - Bill Haley & His Comets
  7. "Chicken Grabber" - The Nighthawks
  8. "Happy, Happy Birthday Baby" - The Tune Weavers
  9. "Pink Champagne" - The Tyrones
  10. "Surfin' Bird" - The Trashmen
  11. "Riot in Cell Block #9" - The Robins
  12. "(How Much is) That Doggie in the Window" - Patti Page

The song "Happy, Happy Birthday Baby" is used as a replacement for "Sixteen Candles", which appeared in the original 1972 cut of the film. (For the 1997 reissue, "Sixteen Candles" could not be used in the film or the soundtrack due to copyright problems.) The original version of Pink Flamingos also used a brief excerpt of Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, which was removed for the re-release.

DVD release

Pink Flamingos was released in the John Waters Collection DVD box set along with the NC-17 version of A Dirty Shame, Desperate Living, Female Trouble, Hairspray, Pecker, and Polyester. It was also released in a 2004 special edition with audio commentaries and deleted scenes.

Alternate versions

  • The 25th anniversary re-release version contains a re-recorded music soundtrack, re-mixed for stereo, plus 15 minutes of deleted scenes preceded by the film, introduced by John Waters.
  • Because of this film's explicit nature, it has been edited for content on many occasions throughout the world. In 1973, the U.S. screened version edited out most of the blowjob scene, which was later restored on the 25th snniversary DVD. Canadian censors recently restored five of the seven scenes that were originally edited in that country. A town on Long Island, New York banned the film altogether. The Japanese laserdisc version contains a blur superimposed over all displays of pubic hair. Prints also exist that were censored by the Maryland Censor Board.
  • The first UK video release of Pink Flamingos in November 1981 (prior to BBFC video regulation requirements) was completely uncut. It was issued by Palace as part of a package of Waters films they had acquired from New Line Cinema. The package included Mondo Trasho (double-billed with Sex Madness), Multiple Maniacs (double-billed with Cocaine Fiends), Desperate Living and Female Trouble. The 1990 video re-release of Pink Flamingos (which required BBFC approval) was cut by 3m 4s, the 1997 issue lost 2m 42s, and the pre-edited 1999 print was cut by 2m 8s.
  • The 2009 Sydney Underground Film Festival screened the film in Odorama for the first time, using scratch 'n' sniff cards similar to the ones used in Waters' later work Polyester. The odours were less than authentic.

Audience participation

The film has a reputation as a midnight movie classic cult with audience participation similar to The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

  • The Funday Pawpet Show holds what is called the "Pink Flamingo Challenge," in which the ending to the movie is played to the audience while they eat a (preferably chocolate) confection. Videos of the show are forbidden from showing the movie clip, only the reaction of the audience.
  • People watching it in the theater often received free "Pink Phlegmingo" vomit bags.

Banned

The film was banned in Australia, some provinces in Canada and Norway. It was eventually released on VHS in Australia in the late 1980s with a X rating, but distribution of the video has since been discontinued.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Pink Flamingos". IMDb. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069089/. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  2. ^ "Pink Flamingos". Dreamlandnews.com. http://www.dreamlandnews.com/films/pink_flamingos.shtml. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Pink Flamingos is a 1972 film about Babs Johnson, recently named "Filthiest Person Alive," and Connie and Raymond Marble who want to take the title from her.

Written and directed by John Waters.
An exercise in poor taste.taglines

Contents

Narrator

  • This beautiful mobile home you see before you is the current hideout of the notorious beauty Divine, the filthiest person alive!
  • [after Raymond exposes himself to a transsexual in the park, and, shocked, runs away] That is not the only shock you have before you, Raymond Marble, because at this exact moment Divine has learned of your jealous scheme from the local town gossip. She also has your address, ass hole!

Divine/Babs Johnson

  • I haven't fallen in love for three whole days!
  • The next package you bring me is getting shoved right up your little ass, can you comprehend that?!
  • Oh my God Almighty! Someone has sent me a BOWEL MOVEMENT!
  • You know who I am, bitch! I'm the filthiest person alive, that's who I am!

Crackers

  • Hold these goddamn chickens!
  • Mama, nobody sends you a turd and expects to live. Nobody!
  • Do my balls, Mama!

Connie Marble

  • I guess there's just two kinds of people, Miss Sandstone, my kind of people, and assholes. It's rather obvious which category you fit into.
  • We'll see who's the filthiest person alive! We'll JUST SEE!
  • Babs Johnson, oh what a stupid fucking name! She sounds like a chimpanzee on a tire swing.
  • Oh I love you Raymond. I love you more than anything in this whole world! I love you even more than my own filthiness! More than my hair color! More than the sound of bones breaking! The sounds of death rattles! Even more than my own SHIT do I love you, Raymond!
  • How can a couch be out of order?!

Others

  • Sandy Sandstone: Eat the bird, bitch!
  • Cookie: I may have to degrade myself in front of Divine's son. He's into a very strange sex scene.
  • Edie: Eggs! Eggs! Eggs!
  • Birthday Card: Happy birthday, fatso.
  • Cotton: Murder merely relieves tension.

Dialogue

Raymond Marble: As you know, Divine has achieved a sort of fame lately, both locally and on the national level. You may have heard the term the "filthiest person alive"?
Cookie: I have heard the term, yes. The papers call her that and she is known as that to a limited extent in your more crime-conscious sections of the city.
Connie Marble: Well we feel this to be an untrue statement! We feel that Raymond and I far surpass her in every aspect of the term filth. As you know, we run a baby ring. It's really a very simple process, we keep two girls at all time who are impregnated by Channing, our rather fertile servant. We sell the babies to lesbian couples, and then we invest the money in various businesses around town.
Raymond Marble: We own a few pornography shops, plus we front money to a chain of heroin-pushers in the inner-city elementary schools.
Connie Marble: We feel the attention that's been focused on Divine lately is most unfair. She is merely a common thief and murderer. Unfortunately for us our line of work limits our chances for publicity and travel, but this does not mean that we wish to go unnoticed. After all, we have not worked all these years in order to be outstaged by this fat hog that calls herself divine!

Crackers: This is my grandma, Edie.
Cookie: What's... what's the matter with her?

The Egg Man: And now, Edie, what will it be today? I have Grade A extra large, I have Grade A large, I have medium, I have small, I have brown and I have white. Just look at these, so fresh you could hardly believe it. They're just begging to be scrambled or fried or poached or hard boiled. Or ready to be thrown into a big, fat, juicy omelet! How about it, Edie? What will it be for the lady that the eggs like the most?
Edie: I want them all! I'll have the brown ones, and those great big white ones, and I'll have those over there. And I want them for frying and for scrambling, and for hard-boiled for snacks. Oh, God!

Hitchhiker: Where'd you get this beautiful car?
Raymond Marble: At a car dealer, where did you think?
Connie Marble: Where ya going?
Hitchhiker: Just downtown, anywhere near Howard street.
Connie Marble: Oh, meeting someone?
Hitchhiker: Yeah.
Connie Marble: Who?!
Hitchhiker: My boyfriend and a couple of other guys. Why?
Raymond Marble: Going to do a gang bang or something?
Hitchhiker: What? Hey, what's with you two?
Connie Marble: We just wondered where you were planning to spread your VD today, that's all, hussy.

Cotton: Mmm, smells delicious Babs!
Babs Johnson: Thank you Cotton, it should. I warmed it up when I was downtown today in my own little oven!

Crackers: Ew, their bedroom, their fuck chamber itself!
Babs Johnson: This is where they mate, Crackers, right here on this very bed, this is where they touch their uninspired little organs together, vainly trying to recharge their worn out battery of filthiness, thrashing and moaning in the still of the night!
Crackers: What kinda shit turns them on, Mama? What do they do in here?
Babs Johnson: Oh all sorts of disgusting positions I would imagine, Crackers. Connie probably takes Raymond's little peanut of a cock between her brittle chapped lips and then scrapes her ugly decayed teeth up and down on it while asshole Raymond thinks he's getting the best head on the East Coast! Then they probably sit here and stare at each other's blue and red hair, while they goose each other and say dirty words!

Babs Johnson: Give me more questions!
Reporter: Divine, are you a lesbian?
Babs Johnson: Yes, I have done everything!
Reporter: Does blood turn you on?
Babs Johnson: It does more than turn me on, Mr. Vader, it makes me come! And more than the sight of it, I love the taste of it, the taste of hot freshly killed blood!
Reporter: Could you give us some of your political beliefs?
Babs Johnson: Kill everyone now! Condone first degree murder! Advocate cannibalism! Eat shit! Filth are my politics, filth is my life!

Taglines

  • An exercise in poor taste.
  • The filthiest people alive! Their loves, their hates and their unquenchable thirst for notoriety!

Cast

External links

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