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Episode 104 - Female Trouble (w/ Jake Fogelnest)


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Poll: Should "Female Trouble" be entered into The Canon? (46 member(s) have cast votes)

Should "Female Trouble" be entered into The Canon?

  1. Yes (32 votes [69.57%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 69.57%

  2. No (14 votes [30.43%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 30.43%

Vote Guests cannot vote

#1 Dalton Maltz

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 11:14 PM

Writer Jake Fogelnest returns to The Canon this week along with his pick, the 1974 dark comedy “Female Trouble.” Jake explains how seeing the film at a young age shaped his perspective on life and led to a penpalship with director John Waters. Then, he and Amy discuss what makes the film so inclusive, the discrepancies of an NC-17 rating, and the difference between “good” bad taste and “bad” bad taste.

#2 LTL

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 07:35 AM

This definitely needs to be in the Canon! please people watch with opening mind and open heart.

#3 alt0782

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 08:34 AM

I love John Waters and I liked Female Trouble well enough, but this was a soft yes for me. Hope it's not the last John Waters we see on The Canon.

#4 curtisjunk

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 09:48 AM

Female Trouble and Desperate Living are Water's two best films. I worry that today's "trigger warning" representation obsessed young audiences are not open minded enough to enjoy the twisted fun and darkly hilarious humor and transgression of John Waters. Female Trouble is definitely in my canon, and certainly belongs in "The Canon"

#5 HoldenMartinson

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 02:24 PM

I really enjoyed this, but it's a nay. If we're going with John Waters, it's hard to say if this is even his third or fourth best film. It's good, not great. I'm glad this still exists, but it's not as essential. Maybe if this was a versus between La La Land... but who's to say?

#6 Jake Fogelnest

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 02:30 PM

Keep in mind I am watching this thread. Choose wisely.

#7 Dan Engler

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 03:03 PM

As a Fogelnest File-natic, it's great to hear Jake on both The Canon and WTF today!*

* And Fire Talk With Me, which I'm listening to as I watch the original Twin Peaks for the first time
Disclaimer: I am not an Earwolf employee. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of Midroll Media LLC.

#8 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 04:31 PM

I vote no, but I'm also not perturbed if it gets in.

This is probably something that has to strike you in the right place at the right time. Intellectually, I understand some of the appeal here. It's just not my style; I tend to prefer more polished work (if Hairspray were up it would be a yes).

#9 Jack Frost

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 09:07 AM

This is a yes for me. Not a lot to say that hasn't already been covered. I will have more to say next week about why Blue Velvet deserves canonization over Eraserhead.
I will always hear you.

#10 waitressinthesky

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 10:52 AM

Major yes for me. Love pretty much all things John Waters (think many of his other films are Canon-worthy as well), and this is my favorite. Wholly original, a singular vision, fucking crazy, made outside of the system, ridiculous performances.

#11 killertapir

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 11:31 AM

Long time listener, but I only decided to follow along with watching The Canon films with Where The Sidewalk Ends (I like noir)

But already I sense I'm about to be unpopular because I HATED Female Trouble. It's the first John Waters film I've seen and now I'm in no rush to see any of the others.

I hated it. I hated this film so much I had to give in and stop watching after the half hour mark. And it took two separate attempts to force myself that far. I'm sorry if this makes me unqualified to vote, but I see no reason to push through a film this bad.

I couldn't stand how grating, screechy and irritating every single character was. It's a repulsive unfunny detestable film and I cannot see any value in it at all. It's labelled a comedy but I couldn't find one solitary thing in which made me even think about smiling.

No, no, a million times no. This film does not deserve to be in the canon. You brought it up in the podcast but I would honestly be more inclined to vote yes to Sharknado than Female Trouble. I could sit through the entirety of that one.

#12 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 12:10 PM

View Postkillertapir, on 30 May 2017 - 11:31 AM, said:

Long time listener, but I only decided to follow along with watching The Canon films with Where The Sidewalk Ends (I like noir)

But already I sense I'm about to be unpopular because I HATED Female Trouble. It's the first John Waters film I've seen and now I'm in no rush to see any of the others.

I hated it. I hated this film so much I had to give in and stop watching after the half hour mark. And it took two separate attempts to force myself that far. I'm sorry if this makes me unqualified to vote, but I see no reason to push through a film this bad.

I couldn't stand how grating, screechy and irritating every single character was. It's a repulsive unfunny detestable film and I cannot see any value in it at all. It's labelled a comedy but I couldn't find one solitary thing in which made me even think about smiling.

No, no, a million times no. This film does not deserve to be in the canon. You brought it up in the podcast but I would honestly be more inclined to vote yes to Sharknado than Female Trouble. I could sit through the entirety of that one.


I'm liking this, not because I fully agree with the sentiment (I didn't hate the movie), but because I like seeing confirmation that Waters' style is polarizing. Would have been weird if this thread was across-the-board support.

#13 Jake Fogelnest

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 01:13 PM

View Postkillertapir, on 30 May 2017 - 11:31 AM, said:

I would honestly be more inclined to vote yes to Sharknado than Female Trouble. I could sit through the entirety of that one.


You are a SQUARE and I am a DRAPE.

#14 Ryan L

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 01:45 PM

I *adore* John and my gut reaction hearing this was this week's episode was "Oh yes, we need all of his films in the Canon." I was similarly-to-Jake introduced to him at a very young age, maybe 9 years old, along with things like Rocky Horror Picture Show, MST3k, and Twin Peaks (I had a cool Baltimore mom), but then when listening that creeping feeling of small canon vs big canon came up in me and I wasn't sure if *this* Waters film is above the cut for his filmography in the Canon. He assuredly has more than one that should be in, but which ones? Like I saw Polyester a few weeks back at the Senator in Baltimore (with newly reproduced Odorama cards!) and although I loved it, I'm not certain I'd put it in the Canon either. It breaks my heart that such thoughts have crept into my mind!

I'll have to do a re-watch of the movie this weekend but I think I lost my copy after a move. Perhaps I'll have to take a trip over to Atomic Books to pick up a copy. Who knows, maybe I'll run into John!

(Also, for those who watched this and think these characters are too crass, ridiculous, or unbelievable: I assure you as somebody who grew up in Maryland and lives in Baltimore currently that every one of these characters still exists in this city. Whether in kitschy Hampden, out Eastern Ave, or in the art school Crustbelt, nothing in his films surprises me or seems too bizarre. Now next week with David Lynch, however...)

#15 Johnny Pomatto

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 06:02 PM

I whole heartily endorse FEMALE TROUBLE to be let into The Canon. I've always had a soft spot for John Waters, but I must admit that aside from a recent viewing of Scream Factory's Serial Mom and a theatrical outing to Polyester last year, it had been many years since I had visited much of Waters' work. I saw Female Trouble around the same time I discovered Pink Flamingos and Hairspray, many many years ago. I gave it another watch last night and I was blown away. I was laughing so loud that I woke my wife up in the other room. I didn't know any of the Manson family connections when I saw the film in my youth, so I never truly got what the film was about. I had always thought it was just another fun, exploitive "woman's picture." When this episode was first introduced, I questioned whether or not this was the right candidate of Waters to be considered for The Canon. I thought the iconography of Pink Flamingos or the popularity of Hairspray would make for an easier get. But after watching this again, I dare say it might be my favorite Waters film I've seen. Tonight I'm going to unwrap my Criterion copy of Multiple Maniacs that has been sitting on my shelf unwatched since its released. I'm now suddenly in a Waters mood and I can't get enough.

#16 GeneShallot

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Posted 31 May 2017 - 03:38 PM

Prior to the episode, I knew of John Waters more than I knew his work - I'd only seen Serial Mom, Hairspray, that episode of The Simpsons, and apparently a ridiculously edited down version of Pink Flamingos, I'm realizing after listening to the podcast (Wait, THAT happened?? But I don't rememb- then they did WHAT??!) I guess that mentally fortified me for Female Trouble, which seemed downright quaint in comparison. Incestuous oral sex is merely suggested this time, I mean what's the big deal?

The movie is hilarious as advertised and hard to take my eyes off of - Waters really has an eye for casting. Interestingly meta too - "bad taste" art about artists who exploit someone to make "bad taste" art (Dasher even sports an unconventional 'stache). I even dug the theme song. Y'all made a very strong case for Water's inclusion in the pop culture canon but should Female Trouble, specifically, make into the film Canon? I maybe didn't vomit, but I did throw up in my mouth a little. I guess that's a 'yes'.

#17 Dale Cooper-Black

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Posted 31 May 2017 - 03:56 PM

Thanks for submitting this to the Canon!

I was "lucky" enough to see the longer version of this film many years ago, at the end of a week-long film festival. A friend and I had committed to watching every single film on the program, so by the final evening we were already exhausted and somewhat punch drunk. At that point, pretty much any movie would have been a chore to sit through, so it was with some trepidation that we walked into the midnight screening of Female Trouble.

As I said, this was many years ago, but I still remember it as if it were yesterday. Watching Female Trouble is like being trapped in a cage with a drunken chimpanzee: Kind of amusing at times, but after awhile you'll be begging to be let out. I truly believe this movie might be a violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Female Trouble would be a difficult movie to sit through at the best of times, but watching it in an already-exhausted state of mind is tantamount to mental torture. But I had never walked out of a movie before, and I was determined to sit through the entire screening. As the movie appeared to be nearing its end, I was proud of my accomplishment. Soon I will be free of this madness, I thought.

And then it happened.

Dawn Davenport, having been arrested for her crimes, is put on trial. And we, the audience, get to relive the ENTIRE MOVIE through the verbal testimony of the witnesses, including Dawn herself.

The decision to include this scene is the single most cruel decision ever made by a filmmaker, and for that reason alone it deserves a place in the Canon.
Guy Fawkes in Socks

#18 Scottcarberry

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Posted 31 May 2017 - 06:47 PM

YES, to Female Trouble! Now I'm not just sayin' that because I'm from Baltimore or was an extra in CryBaby(I was there, too...gimme a call) or even the fact that I drive past John Waters former home at 3900 Greenmount Avenue twice a day. It's because, where Pink Flamingos was indeed, truly an exercise in bad taste, Female Trouble takes on some disturbing subjects, Juvenile Delinquency, Obesity, Dishonesty, Parent abuse, Child abuse, Sexual abuse, Religion, Fame, Murder, Famous Murderers, Dismemberment, Fillicide, Treatment of prisoners, the Judicial System AND Capital Punishment; shoves them all into a grinder and what is cranked out is hysterical!
I feel that i speak for everyone when I say, "Hold on you two lezbeens, youse know that bumpin' pussies is against cell block rules!"

#19 Cody Croy

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 02:41 AM

It's been awhile since I've watched Female Trouble, and it still has the power to get to me. Rarely do I feel genuine disgust, intrigue, and joy all in the same movie. Honestly, I can get behind putting Waters' filmography from Pink Flamingos to Serial Mom into the Canon. Also, Mink Stole is amazing. So, an easy "Yes" for Female Trouble.

#20 vanveen13

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 03:48 AM

I enjoyed this podcast a lot, and though I voted yes for this film I would have preferred Desperate Living--I just figure there prob won't be another of these Waters films coming up. I'm not sure I buy the idea that Waters is so sincere and open and ultimately positively divers that this is what makes him an okay director; sincerity or "deeply felt"ness are to my mind bunk critical filler words that mean little to nothing, considering that all art is highly mediated and the idea that the artist just really likes his subject a whole bunch seems not much related to the distance and disinterest necessary to creating a work of actual artistic worth, comic or otherwise. Plus you all forgot one of Waters' funniest lines: "I always wanted to be a sellout but no one was buying." Female Trouble is tasteless, has some classic comic hysteria which gives this movie the requisite laughs to make for a very funny film; Waters' goofy queer perverseness, his love of tawdry second-rateness is taken to such a fun extreme that in my opinion that's his real bid to originality as a filmmaker--I don't really think he has much style frankly. To see Waters' sensibility with something like real cinematic brilliance you have turn to the movies of Pedro Almodovar.

One other thing I'd like to add has to do with something Amy didn't bring up, which is odd considering how she always does her homework. Divine got her name from a novel by the controversial french gay author Jean Genet: Our Lady of the Flowers, which featured a criminal drag queen named Divine. The connection is interesting because of the way it relates to Waters' aesthetic and shows his roots in a literary as well as the film tradition. Genet, in turn was influenced by Baudelaire who wrote Flowers of Evil. Baudelaire had a kind of early form of a goth outsider provocateur sensibility in which he deliberately sought to praise and embrace evil, take it on himself and embody it as a rebellion against bourgeois banality. Genet in turn, common thief who educated himself in prison, decided to celebrate the criminal as the ultimate sexy outsider and turned his gay predilections into a metaphor for power and how the border between the powerful and the passive blurs at the point of masturbation. Waters in turn, influenced by these ideas ran them through the pop superstar outlook of Andy Warhol. He transformed Baudelaire's fascination with Evil and Genet's devotion to the criminal into a worship of bad art for bad art's sake: he seems to have gotten the idea that submerging his sensibility in the second, third and fourth rate was a means of giving the finger to the acceptable and the appropriate. Big budgeted slickness was to him, in the days of Female Trouble, related to middle class respectability. I think this is what's interesting about his movies: that his very love of shittiness is thought to be a blow to the pose of middle brow quality. For instance he preferred William Kastle's movies to Hitchcock's transformation of that type of movie in Psycho. Personally I can go without ever seeing another Kastle flick and be fine, but Waters upside down view is what gives his camp a satirical uniqueness at its best.

Loving the new incarnation of the show Amy!