Cast & Crew
Joe Davis, a former childhood television star who has not acted since his series The Big Ranch was cancelled, returns to Los Angeles and checks into a sleazy motel in the hope of jump-starting his career. At the pool, Joe meets Jessica Todd, the highly neurotic daughter of Sally Todd, an aging minor celebrity. Jessica, who lives at the motel with her infant son and lesbian lover Bonnie, launches into a tirade against her mother while adding that she has sworn off men and drugs for women and health food. When Lydia, the motel's obese, slatternly manager, threatens to evict Jessica unless she pays her back rent, Jessica, who depends on her mother for financial support, asks Joe to join her that afternoon when she meets her mother to ask for money. Sally arrives soon after and is pleased to see Joe, with whom she once appeared on The Big Ranch . Critical of the environment in which her grandson is being reared, Sally rejects Jessica's claim of being a lesbian, warning that "it would be bad for the columns." Soon after Sally leaves, Lydia seduces Joe, and as she fondles him on her bed, promises to give him a discount for "paying his rent every night." Their tryst is interrupted by Jessica, who runs in screaming in pain from the cigarette burns inflicted by her lover. Later, Jessica invites Joe to have lunch with her and her mother that afternoon at Sally's mansion in the hills. Sally is upset at Joe's unexpected appearance, and after Bonnie calls to inform Jessica that she is going to commit suicide, Jessica rushes back to the motel, leaving Joe alone with Sally. Smitten by Joe's brazen sexuality, Sally confides that she is lonely living in the thirty-six room mansion fashioned after a Scottish castle that she won in the divorce settlement from her last husband, and offers to introduce him to some producers if he agrees never to leave her. Joe, a sexual opportunist, immediately seduces Sally, but when Sally demands constant reassurance about her attractiveness, Joe announces that he is going home. Hysterical, Sally offers to arrange a meeting with Ray, a producer friend of hers, and buys Joe some new clothes. At the meeting, Sally tries to convince Ray to hire Joe for a television movie-of-the-week, but Ray is not interested. Some time later, Jessica, living at the motel alone since Bonnie's institutionalization for her suicide attempt, finds fellow motel inhabitants Gary and his mute brother Eric sunning themselves on a mattress out back. The brothers have a nightclub act in which they sing, dance and "have a little sex on stage," and Jessica suggests they talk to Joe about appearing in the act with them. Later, at the mansion, Joe and Sally are in the midst of having sex when Jessica appears, announcing that she is no longer a lesbian and wants to move back in with her mother. When Sally goes to the motel to pay her daughter's bill, Lydia informs her that she and Joe had sex, upsetting Sally. Determined to seduce Joe herself, Jessica is lying on the floor in her underwear, flaunting her body at Joe when Sally walks in. Jealous, Sally dismisses Jessica. Later, Sally, accompanied by Joe and Jessica, visits Jessica's movie-producer father Sidney. When Sally demands that Sidney give her more money for child support, Sidney calls her "an aging, minor, practically unknown star who can't act." The two then retire into a separate room to discuss their financial affairs. Soon after, Harold, Sidney's actor lover, arrives home, and as he shows Joe a scrapbook of his career, begins to fondle Joe's leg. Sally and Sidney return to the living room to find Harold performing a sexual act on Joe. As Sally alternately chastises Joe and begs him to stay with her, he walks out. Unhinged, Sally grabs a gun from a drawer and follows Joe back to the motel where she finds him flirting with a woman by the pool. Pulling out her gun, Sally fires, but the barrel is empty. Frustrated, Sally tosses the weapon into the pool and leaves.
P. J. Lester
Flesh/Trash - The Early Films of Paul Morrissey on DVD
The first, Flesh, in 1968 was an early attempt of Morrissey to break away from his previous experimental film work with Andy Warhol during the heyday of the "Factory" years. Though his name is often credited in the titles, such as "Andy Warhol's Flesh" or "Andy Warhol's Trash", Warhol merely financed the films and had little or no actual creative development with them.
Flesh, now on DVD from Image Entertainment, is a film that, compared to the other Warhol films of the time, was one that actually followed some sort of a plot, albeit a very loose one. Prior to the "Flesh" trilogy, the majority of the films being released were experimental, with titles like Sleep (1963) (six hours of footage of a man sleeping) and The Chelsea Girls (1966) two simultaneously screened films that depicted scenes of various "Factory" regulars improvising in several rooms of the notorious Chelsea Hotel in New York City.
Flesh follows Warhol regular Joe Dallesandro through a series of misadventures in seedy NYC and his interactions with a variety of friends, family and customers all of who discuss, partake, ogle and dismiss Joe as simply, a piece of flesh. The "plot" here is that he is selling his body to others in order to raise money for his wife's girlfriend's abortion.
The film is shot in a grainy, static way---jarring jump cuts and dialogue that is low and natural and is often cut off mid-sentence...one can even hear the camera whirring in the background! The film comes across as if you are watching someone's crude home movies. There is no real style and certainly no special effects or soundscapes; it's 100% natural---natural sound, natural, improvised performances - certainly this type of documentary style filmmaking was a major influence on the whole Dogma filmmaking practice of recent independent filmmakers such as Harmony Korine, Lars von Trier and others. The actors all exude a complete sense of unself-consciousness particularly with Dallesandro who spends a large portion of the film in various degrees of undress.
Whether you find Flesh entertaining or not, all depends on the level of patience that the viewer possesses. The long takes, the amateurish acting, lack of soundtrack, etc. could make for an irritating viewing for the average moviegoer. However, the film does contain some very funny and often touching scenes, particularly the scenes with female impersonators, Jackie Curtis and Candy Darling and the completely silent sequence of Joe spending time with his infant child. Though the film contains a lot of nudity and sexual content, the film still comes across with a sense of innocence in it's portrayal of a man trying to support his family by the only way he knows how.
The next film, Trash, from 1970 is certainly a more polished film and feels more like an actual narrative film than Flesh's semi-experimental approach. There seems to be a lot more thought and consideration in the camerawork and the actors are actually attempting to create genuine characters as opposed to the improvising seen in Flesh. Though Trash has it's share of improvisation, the performances here are much more watchable because there is an actual beginning, middle and end to the dialogue and scenes.
Trash stars Dallesandro again- this time playing a drug user living with his girlfriend, Holly (played by female impersonator Holly Woodlawn)- and the film follows Joe through another series of seriocomic adventures amongst the squalor and streets of New York.
The film's highlight is no doubt the enthusiastic and hilarious performance by Woodlawn. Like Divine in the films of John Waters, Holly Woodlawn isn't playing a female impersonator, or drag queen, but an actual female role. The viewer's true sympathies lie with Holly throughout the film in witnessing her attempts at trying to have a normal life and to achieve her goal of receiving welfare.
The title "Trash" has two meanings- the low-life Trash that Joe and Holly represent and the aesthetic look of the film as Holly collects junk and refuse from the street to decorate her home...of which she is extremely proud. Trash is a much better film than Flesh due solely to the appearance of Woodlawn.
The third film Heat in 1972 is the third and final chapter of the trilogy and this time finds Joe Dallesandro in a sexy spoof of Sunset Blvd. opposite Sylvia Miles. To read a review of Heat, Click Here.
All three films have been re-released on DVD by Image Entertainment. Originally released with no extras whatsoever, this time they are being made available with some welcome supplemental features including deleted scenes, photo galleries with audio commentary by Paul Morrissey.
For more information about Flesh/Heat, visit Image Entertainment.
by Eric Weber
Flesh/Trash - The Early Films of Paul Morrissey on DVD
Paul Morrissey's Heat on DVD
Heat may flirt with some aspects of Sunset Blvd. , but its pedigree places it alongside the works of John Waters as something that is the antithesis of posh; the lighting is flat and crude, every now and then you can see a hair in the gate, in place of establishing shots there is a fascination with off-center close-ups of bodies and faces that all zoom into view and in and out of focus with carefree gusto, be they the hard-bodies, old-bodies, or fat-bodies. These constitute the odd-assortment of damaged souls gathered in the haze of Smell-A, where nudity and fellatio are common, whether it be a desperate desire, or for money or in the spirit of boredom. Decadence is not just the subject; it's the style itself in its medium and its message. The aforementioned quote by Joe Gillis may apply to Heat, but with caveats; you have some poor people, many of which look and act is if on dope, and all of them circling around the pool like, well, insert your own crude metaphor here if you are so inclined.
We begin with a shot of Joey Davis (Joe Dallesandro) walking through the rubble of a torn down studio. He then comes to a hotel whose oversized landlady, Lydia (Pat Ast) is soon making the moves on him, along with a young blonde by the name of Jessie (Andrea Feldman). Jessie's fading movie-star mom, Sally (Sylvia Miles, who was nominated for an Oscar in 1970 for her supporting role in Midnight Cowboy) gets in on the act too, as do other sundry characters. Joey is a one-time child star from Mousetime U.S.A. and a Western show called The Big Ranch. Jessie is a young loud-mouth with a young baby who lives with a lesbian lover and gets in fights with Lydia. She is also constantly approaching her mother for cash. Joe is eager to advance his career and is seduced by Sally; he visits her mansion and meets with a movie-producer, but it all ends badly. Or awkwardly. Or hilariously. It kind of depends on your point of view.
Roger Ebert finds it "absorbing," but "mostly because Morrissey has assembled an outrageous cast, given them an impossible situation and then all but dared them to act their way out of it. Incredibly, Sylvia Miles does. She handles this material in the only possible way, by taking it perfectly seriously." Dennis Schwartz votes with the "hilarious" camp, giving special kudos to Andrea Feldman (who committed suicide just before the film's release) and notes that she "provides the film's most outrageous performance" while also giving a tip of the hat to Joe Dallesandro, "a real-life street hustler." Bill Gibron finds "Heat a far more scattered and random film than its far more potent predecessors." (All three films feature Joe Dallesandro in the lead, playing "Joe," but Flesh and Trash stay in New York and don't superimpose artificial constructs, aka: "plot," into the proceedings as much as Heat does.)
Unfortunately, there is no word yet on how Focus on the Family's James Dobson might feel about such a film and, indeed, the idea alone brings forth a Clockwork Orange-like image of making Dobson watch Heat, Pink Flamingos, Scorpio Rising, and a smattering of other kindred spirits, just to freak him out (further). But that would be mean...
The Image Entertainment dvd of Heat features a full screen format that partially cuts off the credits but includes some fun extras that are not really informative so much as graphically inspired and playful in a Warholian way.
For more information about Heat, visit Image Entertainment. To order Heat, go to TCM Shopping.
by Pablo Kjolseth
Paul Morrissey's Heat on DVD
...And you're NOT a lesbian. I mean, everybody has girlfriends. Men have friends, women have friends. That doesn't make you a lesbian. Do you sleep in the same room with her?- Sally
Sure. How else can I be a lesbian?- Jessica
Where does Mark sleep?- Sally
With us.- Jessica
In the same bed?- Sally
Although opening credits note that the flim was copyrighted in 1972 by the Score-Sarx Company, the Score-Sarx Company is not listed in copyright records. Paul Morrissey's onscreen credit reads "photographed and directed by." John Cale's music credit noted that the film's music was featured on the Warner-Reprise album "Academy in Peril."
Filmfacts stated that the film was shot in two weeks in California and New York at a cost of $70,000 to produce. Parts of the picture were shot around the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles. The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Ennis House can be seen in a background shot of "Sally Todd's" house. At the time of its release, reviews noted that Heat was rated X, but the MPAA gave it an R rating in 1973. Although Heat, which Filmfacts called "A Factory Film," was the first produced by noted artist, filmaker and Factory impressario Andy Warhol that was shot on the West Coast, a New York Times news item noted that the scenes in Sally's bedroom were filmed at Warhol's house in East Hampton, NY. Heat marked the last motion picture appearance of actress Andrea Feldman, who committed suicide on August 8, 1972. Heat was the third in a trilogy of Warhol-produced films written, photographed and directed by Morrissey and starring Joe Dallesdandro. Many reviewers commented on the similarities between Heat and the 1950 Paramount film Sunset Blvd. (see below).
Released in United States on Video April 1988
Released in United States October 5, 1972
Released in United States 1994
Shown at New York Film Festival October 5, 1972.
Released in United States on Video April 1988
Released in United States October 5, 1972 (Shown at New York Film Festival October 5, 1972.)
Released in United States 1994 (Shown at AFI/Los Angeles International Film Festival (A Paul Morrissey Retrospective) June 24 - July 7, 1994.)