Female Trouble (1974)

JOHN WATERS

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB

USA, 1974. . Screenplay by John Waters. Cinematography by John Waters. Produced by John Waters. Production Design by . Costume Design by . Film Editing by , John Waters.

John Waters once again combines his gleeful passion for bad taste with his intelligent command of film references, resulting in something that is always outrageous and amusing. is superb as Dawn Davenport, a rebellious teenager who pushes her placid, middle-class parents into the Christmas tree and runs away from home when they anger her by not buying her the cha-cha heels she wanted (those aren’t worn by good girls!) She’s picked up by a gruff stranger (played by Divine out of drag), who rapes her by the side of the road and leaves her pregnant. Years later, having worked as a waitress, go-go dancer and streetwalking prostitute to support her baby, she has turned criminal and is the head of a trio of cat burglars while, at home, her daughter goes from spoiled brat to psychotic adult (played with no limits by ). She falls in love with hairdresser and marries him despite objections from his devoted Aunt Ida (the one and only ), while the owners of his beauty salon hire Divine her to be a model for a series of photos in which she is snapped while performing bad deeds (because “crime is beauty”). Reportedly inspired by Waters’ prison visits to Manson family member Charles “Tex” Watson (to whom the film is dedicated), this one mashes up tributes to Sandra Dee movies, old PSAs aimed at maturing teenagers and housewife melodramas, held together by Waters’ own confident, underground flavour. A beautiful colour scheme is achieved on a very low budget and, despite the provocations of full-frontal nudity and gory violence, it has a feeling of sweetness and innocence at its core.

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