Moviedrome Mondays: Cry-Baby (1990) and Lenny (1974)

This week’s Moviedrome Monday is a double bill consisting of two very different films set during the 1950’s.

Cry-Baby (1990)

I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to cult director John Waters 1990 teen comedy/musical/romance Cry-Baby. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was June 27, 1993 (read here). Not much to add here except that I agree with everything Cox says here. With the exceptions of Polyester and Hairspray, all of Waters more mainstream films are only good, as opposed to great or very good. In other words, I prefer his edgier work from the 1970’s. If any of you readers are interested, here is a link to my favorite John Waters films (read here).

Here is a youtube video link to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s intro to Cry-Baby

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Lenny (1974)

I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to famed actor/choreographer/dancer/director Bob Fosse’s 1974 biographical drama Lenny. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was June 27, 1993 (read here). Though I agree with Cox to an extent regarding the technical aspects of Fosse’s films, I (rather unfortunately) do not share his enthusiasm for Fosse as a filmmaker. Notwithstanding Star 80 (for me his masterpiece), when it comes to Fosse’s films as a director, the sum of it’s parts is greater than the whole and Lenny is no exception.

Here is a youtube video link to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s intro to Lenny

Here is a youtube video link to what may be the film’s UK theatrical trailer – I can’t seem to find the US trailer for it.

17 thoughts on “Moviedrome Mondays: Cry-Baby (1990) and Lenny (1974)

  1. I haven’t seen Pink Flamingos or any of John Waters’ more infamous films but I do like Cry-Baby. I think it’s excellent. It’s a colourful, energetic, exuberant film with great direction by Waters and a great, interesting and colourful cast playing great and quirky characters plus I love the film’s setting, era,and style as I love the 1950s.The soundtrack is also really good. I think Cry-Baby is a fun movie all round.

    Alex’s intro is mostly excellent but I disagree with him when he says that once Waters’ films are deprived of true obnoxiousness there isn’t much left. That may be true of some of Waters’ other later films but it isn’t of Cry-Baby. There is plenty to Cry-Baby. Specifically the reasons I mentioned above.

  2. Cry Baby is an easy watch, with some fun moments.
    I saw Lenny at the cinema, and thought it was outstanding. I had some vinyl albums of his concerts long before the film was made, and Hoffman really caught the feel of Bruce’s ‘mania’. In fact, I finally bought the film on DVD early last year, as the memory of it has never left me. I must get around to watching it again. It also stars the usually underrated Valerie Perrine, who I have always thought was wonderful.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  3. I hear ya Steve πŸ™‚ As you probably saw in this blog entry, I too prefer John Waters edgier works from the 1970’s to his more mainstream ones (with the exception of Polyester and Hairspray). Nevertheless, this is not to say that all of his films beginning with Cry-Baby were bad – in fact, far from it. I think another factor that comes into play here is that Cry-Baby was Waters first film since Divine’s unexpected passing in 1988. With the exception of Desperate Living, all of Waters films without him seem to lack that Midas Touch. Nevertheless, I do agree with you that Cry-Baby is highly entertaining for all of the reasons you so eloquently stated πŸ™‚ I too love the film’s 1950’s setting, era and style as well πŸ™‚ Though to be fair, Cry-Baby does not have as much of the problems that his other mainstream films have (once again, with the exception of Polyester and Hairspray) since Cry-Baby (like Hairspray) was intended from day one as one of his more accessible works in terms of the themes of it’s plot for lack of better way to put it.

    I always enjoy hearing your thoughts on here Steve πŸ™‚ I am also excited about the next Moviedrome Monday entry because I get to link to your youtube upload of Alex Cox’s intro to the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers πŸ™‚ Speaking of Alex Cox, The Parallax View just got the Criterion Blu-Ray/DVD treatment here in the US – I hope that Arrow or some special company in the UK can release there for citizens like yourself πŸ™‚ Cox has introduced the film not once (first season of Moviedrome), but twice – JFK night back in 1993 on the BBC. You probably knew that already with the Moviedrome Monday entry for The Parallax View though πŸ™‚ The reason I mention the Criterion edition of the film is because one of the special features is an introduction by Alex Cox himself πŸ™‚ Here is the link below πŸ™‚

    https://www.criterion.com/films/30204-the-parallax-view

  4. I agree with you on Cry-Baby Pete πŸ™‚

    As for Lenny, everything about it is so good for all of the reasons you so eloquently state (I too love Valerie Perrine), that one can’t help but feel that Fosse is only interested in both his technical/visual style and his subject only 50% of the time as opposed to 100. Make no mistake though, Lenny is far from a bad film. I bet those vinyl albums of Lenny Bruce’s concerts are worth millions today πŸ™‚ I too have listened to a lot of Lenny Bruce’s own work and he truly was not only one of the great comedians, but also one who was ahead of his time – he totally ranks up there with George Carlin, Bill Hicks, Richard Pryor and Sam Kinison to name just a four. There is also a very good 1998 documentary about Lenny Bruce entitled Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth – it is worth checking out πŸ™‚ Anyway, thanks for dropping by πŸ™‚

  5. I have seen the 1998 documentary. I always admired Bruce for taking a stand. He seemed outrageous at the time. As for the film, I have no issues with Fosse. My dad took the vinyl albums when he left home, arguing that he had got them for me in the first place.

  6. It’s cool that Alex mentioned Joe Dallesandro in the Cry-Bay intro and it’s cool that Joe was part of Alex’s Moviedrome. I’m a huge fan of Joe. He’s a legend and one of the coolest guys ever. He oozes coolness. He worked with Andy Warhol and his crowd (including in Blood For Dracula) and then he starred in Italian and French films in the ’70s. The best of his Italian films are Born Winner (1976) and The Climber (1975). Both are Poliziotteschi (crime). Born Winner is great. I recommend that. It’s on youtube. He then worked in Hollywood in movies including Cry-Baby, The Cotton Club and The Limey and TV shows including Miami Vice. He’s now retired from acting and now he manages the Brevoort Hotel in Hollywood. He’s on twitter too.

    I have a strong recomendation for you, John. The best movie that Joe Dallesandro starred in was a 1976 French movie called Je T’aime Moi Non Plus (1976) which was directed by Serge Gainsbourg (his directorial debut) and also starred Jane Birkin. The film is based on their famous song of the same name. Gainsbourg was a man of many talents. As well as a great musician he was a great director too. Je T’aime Moi Non Plus is one of the best films I’ve ever seen. It’s in my top 5 favourite films ever infact. It’s Joe’s favourite of his own films too. It’s a fantastic and beautiful film. It’s as beautifully photographed as a Terrence Malick film. Francois Traffaut called it a work of art. His exact quote was “Don’t go see my film. Go see Gainsbourg’s. That is a work of art”. I think you should follow his advice and see it. It also goes without saying that it has a fantastic soundtrack too. I really highly, highly recommend you see Je T’aime Moi Non Plus.

    It got a release by Kino Lorber last year with some good extras but unfortunately the transfer was very disappointing. It’s a really bad transfer and it doesn’t do the film justice at all. The UK DVD release by Optimum has a gorgeous transfer though and I recommend that release to watch the film.

    I heard about how Criterion’s new release of the Parallax View has a new intro by Alex. That’s really cool. He mentioned that on his podcast that he recently recorded commentaries for movies being released by Kino Lorber. I can’t recall what films they were though. I know he did a commentary for Kino Lorber’s release of Sergio Leone’s A Fistful Of Dynamite. And I of course knew he introduced Parallax View twice on BBC 2.

    Next week’s Moviedrome Monday will be good. That’s for sure.

  7. I love the Lenny. It is a harrowing film to watch and at times it is tedious but I think the leads are terrific and the atmospheric tension that Fosse creates within the character study is brilliant. I like some of Waters stuff–he is, undoubtedly, an astute stylist and a visionary. Crybaby, I don’t like. I’m not a Johnny Depp fan per se and I don’t think he is a suitable Waters lead. He’s too obvious. My two cents.
    –Pam

  8. As you can tell from my post, Star 80 stands out as my favorite Bob Fosse film. To be honest, all of the virtues you single out about Lenny I agree with. Where the disagreement comes in is that Fosse only seems to relishes his technical/visual style on the surface, but not really at the center – someone like Jean-Luc Godard succeeds because he relishes his technical/visual style both at the surface and in the center.

    As for Cry-Baby? I will admit that I prefer John Waters edgier 1970’s work to his more mainstream work – with the exception of Polyester and Hairspray. Cry-Baby (like all of Waters from then on) is only good as opposed to great or very good. Where I do disagree with you Pam is in your opinion of Johnny Depp because (prior to The Pirates of the Caribbean films), he comes off as a truly talented actor and Cry-Baby is no exception. Nevertheless, If I were to name you three perfect films he was in, in which he stood out, they would be Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man (1995), Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) and Gore Verbinski’s Rango (2011) (Animated Film). Anyway, thanks for dropping by πŸ™‚

  9. Hmm…I thought Johnny Depp was good in Dead Man, though I didn’t like the movie that much. I thought he was very good in Donnie Brasco and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. I never saw Pirates of the blah blah…not my kind of film.
    Oh yeah, Edward Scissorhands, he was very good in that and he was brilliant in Ed Wood. But that’s just me. I need to see Rango. I’ve heard very good things about it.

    Yeah. I liked Star 80 a lot. I think it’s a very underrated film. Eric Roberts was just tremendous.
    To me, if you want to know the 80s you need to watch Star 80, Dressed to Kill and To Live and Die in LA.
    There are others, but to me those were quintessential, Blowout too.
    I think De Palma really defined that era of cinema. It’s like he had a reverence for it, like he was paying tribute to it while he was in it. He didn’t run from the stylistic excess, he embraced it, yet–for the most part–it was an appendage, not a prosthetic, of his narrative. To me, Carrie is an 80s film in the 70s. And that brings me back to Fosse. All That Jazz and Cabaret are 80s films made in the 70s. His made for TV special Liza with a Z oozes 80s.

  10. Intriguing thoughts Pam, though Dead Man might win you over on multiple viewings – again it is one of those films that you need to watch numerous times in order to fully appreciate it – I know because that is how I came to love the film.

    You are also correct that Eric Roberts was electrifying, not to mention terrifying, in Star 80. Those three titled you mentioned (Star 80, Dressed to Kill and To Live and Die in L.A. and Blow Out) are four perfect examples you just mentioned regarding 1980’s cinema. But then again, there are plenty more, but again those are great choices πŸ™‚

    As for De Palma defining the 1980’s, once again, he could serve as just one of many perfect examples πŸ™‚ Interestingly enough, your eloquent stating of Carrie being an 80’s film from the 70’s almost makes it sound ahead of it’s time πŸ™‚ Nevertheless, I am not quite sure I would call Cabaret and All That Jazz 80’s films made in the 1970’s, but then again, I would have to study every aspect of those two films in order to determine whether that would be valid or not. Intriguing thoughts nonetheless Pam πŸ™‚ I also vaguely that Liza with a Z special πŸ™‚ I am loving this conversation so far Pam πŸ™‚

  11. Sorry John, I can’t offer any insight as I’m not familiar with either of these films. I did enjoy reading all of the thoughtful comments on this entry, well done everyone. I’ll see you next Monday!

  12. I guess Fosse was just a better dance than a filmmaker. He was obviously talented, and I think we can all see that Michael Jackson thought so too, considering the signature moves he “borrowed” from Fosse.

    Re: Waters, though, do you think getting older mellowed and softened him? Why do you think his “edges” got more rounded out later? It was too early for the Woke and PC movements, so…I wonder…..

  13. Well for me, Star 80 is still Bob Fosse’s greatest film and a true masterpiece to boot. I had no idea that Michael Jackson used some of Fosse’s dance moves as one of his influences. Food for thought indeed πŸ™‚

    As for John Waters work becoming softer, let us not forget that by the 1990’s and 2000’s, raunchy comedy on film and television were giving Waters mainstream work a run for it’s money. Then again, that is just speculation on my part. Anyway, thanks for dropping by πŸ™‚

  14. Gotcha about Waters. Interesting……

    But yeah, Michael Jackson…. many moves from Fosse. If you go 2:33 in this clip from Fosse in The Little Prince in 1974, you’ll immediately recognize of the moves Michael stole! πŸ™‚

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