Women in Revolt (1971)
Produced by Andy Warhol, Written and Directed by Paul Morrissey
Starring Candy Darling, Jackie Curtis, and Holly Woodlawn
Cinematography by Jed Johnson and Andy Warhol
Of the various 1970s B-movie exploitation spectacles I’ve witnessed, Women In Revolt is probably the least lively, engaging, or subversive. The trilogy starring Joe Dallesandro, also Warhol-produced and Paul Morrissey-directed, offered shrill but often hilarious performances, egregiously poor taste, and a loose narrative based on actual NYC street life of the time. Those films had a certain slice-of-life credibility which balanced out the hysterics, in part due to Dallesandro’s role as a somber (but rarely sober) straight-man (but rarely a straight man) cynically navigating a materialistic society.
In this film, Candy Darling, Jackie Curtis, and Holly Woodlawn, who also starred in earlier Warhol endeavors as transsexuals or transvestites, are again cast as women. They form an organization called PIG (politically involved girls), a satire of the women’s liberation movement that makes abundant use of stereotype and hyperbole. When a fully clothed man attempts to deliver a plant to one of the “women’s” homes, she protests, “take your balls and go!” He takes the rejection literally and asks, “what’s wrong with my genitals?” to which she replies simply: “I don’t like them”.
I typically enjoy the use of stereotypes as a staple of Warhol’s work (though I should mention of course that Warhol’s actual involvement in these movies is dubious at best). The presentation of women’s liberationists as hideous man-hating bimbos who compare consensual sex to rape, however, is clearly misogynistic. Compared to Warhol’s parodies of Hollywood stars, street bums, and rich socialites, women’s liberationists seem unjustly targeted. The main shortcoming, however, is that despite Morrissey’s usual improvised scenes in which actors shout over one another, locked in a primal battle to steal every shot of every scene in the film, many of the scenes come across as strangely lifeless. The acerbic wit of his earlier work is missing, as is the sense of the director discovering his stars for the very first time.