Female Trouble (1975)

95 mins | Comedy | 12 February 1975

Director:

John Waters

Writer:

John Waters

Producer:

John Waters

Production Designer:

Vincent Peranio

Production Company:

Dreamland Productions
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HISTORY

       The roles of teenaged girl “Dawn Davenport” and middle-aged man “Earl Peterson” were both played by Divine, a twenty-nine-year-old male transvestite.
       According to the 3 Mar 1975 Box review, Female Trouble was shot on location, in 16mm format, in Baltimore, MD, hometown of filmmaker John Waters. The 5 Feb 1975 Var review cited the production budget as $25,000.
       In a mixed review, the 5 Feb 1975 Var noted that overall production values on Female Trouble were superior to Waters’s previous feature, Pink Flamingos (1973, see entry), which cost $10,000 and was still in theatrical release, primarily at midnight screenings, as of Feb 1975. While Var predicted that the film would enjoy similar box-office prospects to Pink Flamingos, which had been a “sleeper in urban and college markets,” the 3 Mar 1975 Box noted that Saliva Films, a division of New Line, was distributing Female Trouble as a “regular release” and the picture would have to “prove itself in general markets.”

      The title of the film is preceded in opening credits by a title card that reads: “John Waters.’” End credits include the following dedication: “For Charles ... More Less

       The roles of teenaged girl “Dawn Davenport” and middle-aged man “Earl Peterson” were both played by Divine, a twenty-nine-year-old male transvestite.
       According to the 3 Mar 1975 Box review, Female Trouble was shot on location, in 16mm format, in Baltimore, MD, hometown of filmmaker John Waters. The 5 Feb 1975 Var review cited the production budget as $25,000.
       In a mixed review, the 5 Feb 1975 Var noted that overall production values on Female Trouble were superior to Waters’s previous feature, Pink Flamingos (1973, see entry), which cost $10,000 and was still in theatrical release, primarily at midnight screenings, as of Feb 1975. While Var predicted that the film would enjoy similar box-office prospects to Pink Flamingos, which had been a “sleeper in urban and college markets,” the 3 Mar 1975 Box noted that Saliva Films, a division of New Line, was distributing Female Trouble as a “regular release” and the picture would have to “prove itself in general markets.”

      The title of the film is preceded in opening credits by a title card that reads: “John Waters.’” End credits include the following dedication: “For Charles Watson.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
3 Mar 1975
p. 4759.
Daily Variety
11 Feb 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 1975
p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
30 Jul 1975
p. 10.
New York Times
13 Feb 1975
p. 43.
Variety
5 Feb 1975
p. 22.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Dreamland Films Presents
John Waters'
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Filmed
Lighting
Asst cam
Stills
Stills
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
SET DECORATOR
Sets by
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles
Titles
Titles, with spec asst from
Opt restoration by
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod chief
Prod asst
Prod asst
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Title Song 'Female Trouble'," sung by Divine, music by Bob Harvey, lyrics by John Waters, arranged by Don Cooke, published by Pentagram
"Merry, Merry, Merry, Merry Xmas," written by Ruth Lyon, performed by Ruby Wright with Cliff Lash and his Orchestra and the Dick Noel Singers, courtesy of Ace Records Ltd., by arrangement with Celebrity Licensing Inc.
"Jingle Bells," arranged by Carl Cotner, performed by Gene Autry, courtesy of Autry Foundation and Autry Qualified Interest Trust
+
SONGS
"Title Song 'Female Trouble'," sung by Divine, music by Bob Harvey, lyrics by John Waters, arranged by Don Cooke, published by Pentagram
"Merry, Merry, Merry, Merry Xmas," written by Ruth Lyon, performed by Ruby Wright with Cliff Lash and his Orchestra and the Dick Noel Singers, courtesy of Ace Records Ltd., by arrangement with Celebrity Licensing Inc.
"Jingle Bells," arranged by Carl Cotner, performed by Gene Autry, courtesy of Autry Foundation and Autry Qualified Interest Trust
"Blue Kat," written by Chuck Rio, performed by Chuck Rio & the Originals, courtesy of Masters International
"Underwater," written by John Andrews, performed by The Frogmen, courtesy of Go-Jo Music
"Dig," written by Jimmy Drake, performed by Nervous Norvus, courtesy of MCA Records, under license from Universal Music Special Markets, "Yogi," written by Bill Black, performed by Bill Black Combo, courtesy of Hi Records, under license from EMI-Capitol Music Special Markets
"Bridal March," performed by 101 Strings Orchestra, courtesy of Madacy Entertainment, under license from Madacy Special Markets
"Wedding March," performed by 101 Strings Orchestra, courtesy of Madacy Entertainment, under license from Madacy Special Markets.
+
COMPOSERS
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
12 February 1975
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 12 February 1975
Los Angeles opening: 30 July 1975
Physical Properties:
Sound
Chace Surround Stereo
Color
Duration(in mins):
95
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
36827
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Baltimore, Maryland, obese teenager Dawn Davenport runs away from home after her parents fail to give her the “cha-cha heel” shoes she requested for Christmas. Hitchhiking on the side of the road, Dawn is picked up Earl Peterson, a lecherous man whom she robs later that day as they have sex in the woods. Months later, Dawn has dropped out of high school and is living on her own. She calls Earl to tell him she is pregnant and demands money, but Earl refuses to pay, accusing her of stealing from him. Later, Dawn stops in the stairwell of her apartment building and gives birth to a baby girl on a couch in the hallway, severing the umbilical cord with her teeth. To support herself and her daughter, Taffy, Dawn works as a waitress at a diner, dances at a burlesque bar, and works as a street prostitute alongside her friends from high school, Concetta and Chicklette. As Taffy gets older, Dawn resents her daughter and the lengths to which she must go to provide basic necessities. One day, after chaining Taffy to her bed for misbehaving, Dawn commiserates with Chicklette and Concetta, who suggest that the young mother go to the Lipstick Beauty Salon, a private establishment that requires new clients to audition before they can receive haircuts. Meanwhile, Gator, one of the hairstylists, tells his obese Aunt Ida that she looks good in a lace-up leather outfit. Ida encourages Gator to become a homosexual, insisting that heterosexuals lead inferior lives, but Gator refuses to fight his attraction to women. When Dawn goes to the Lipstick salon, she is selected as a new client by the snobbish ... +


In Baltimore, Maryland, obese teenager Dawn Davenport runs away from home after her parents fail to give her the “cha-cha heel” shoes she requested for Christmas. Hitchhiking on the side of the road, Dawn is picked up Earl Peterson, a lecherous man whom she robs later that day as they have sex in the woods. Months later, Dawn has dropped out of high school and is living on her own. She calls Earl to tell him she is pregnant and demands money, but Earl refuses to pay, accusing her of stealing from him. Later, Dawn stops in the stairwell of her apartment building and gives birth to a baby girl on a couch in the hallway, severing the umbilical cord with her teeth. To support herself and her daughter, Taffy, Dawn works as a waitress at a diner, dances at a burlesque bar, and works as a street prostitute alongside her friends from high school, Concetta and Chicklette. As Taffy gets older, Dawn resents her daughter and the lengths to which she must go to provide basic necessities. One day, after chaining Taffy to her bed for misbehaving, Dawn commiserates with Chicklette and Concetta, who suggest that the young mother go to the Lipstick Beauty Salon, a private establishment that requires new clients to audition before they can receive haircuts. Meanwhile, Gator, one of the hairstylists, tells his obese Aunt Ida that she looks good in a lace-up leather outfit. Ida encourages Gator to become a homosexual, insisting that heterosexuals lead inferior lives, but Gator refuses to fight his attraction to women. When Dawn goes to the Lipstick salon, she is selected as a new client by the snobbish owners, Donna and Donald Dasher, and chooses Gator to be her hairstylist. Dawn and Gator immediately fall in love and, soon after, donning a see-through wedding dress, Dawn marries Gator in a church ceremony. Within months, she grows tired of Gator’s excessive drinking and cheating, and frequently fights with Aunt Ida. Five years into the marriage, Dawn barely tolerates Gator’s sexual fetishes, including the use of household tools during lovemaking. One day, Taffy is disgusted as she walks in on Dawn and Gator having sex. When Gator suggests that his daughter perform oral sex on him, Taffy refuses. Both Dawn and Gator remind Taffy that she is “retarded”; however, Taffy accuses them of lying and leaves after Gator gives her ten dollars. The couple resume their lovemaking, but Dawn loses her temper when Gator shoves a carrot in her mouth, so she storms off to the Lipstick salon for a hair appointment. As she arrives, Vicki, the receptionist, tells Dawn that the Dashers wish to see her. Dawn meets with Donna and Donald in their office, where they ask her to model for them in a series of artistic photographs investigating the relationship between crime and beauty. Since the photographs will involve Dawn committing crimes, she worries that she might get arrested, but the Dashers assure her that no police will be involved. Dawn agrees on the condition that the Dashers fire Gator, and they happily comply. That evening, Gator tells Aunt Ida he has lost his job and plans to move to Detroit, Michigan. Although Ida begs Gator to stay, he leaves town after stopping at home to punch Dawn in the face. That evening, the Dashers come to Dawn’s house for dinner, despite Donna’s unwillingness to visit such a bad neighborhood. Sporting a black eye from Gator’s assault, Dawn introduces Taffy to the Dashers, and Taffy expresses her belief that Dawn is too ugly to be a model. After Dawn tells her daughter that she cannot eat, Taffy throws the spaghetti Dawn has prepared for dinner against the wall. Dawn retaliates by bashing Taffy with a chair while Donald excitedly photographs the child abuse. Dawn assures the Dashers that Taffy is retarded and a child psychologist has instructed her to beat the girl anytime she misbehaves. Aunt Ida bursts in, accuses Dawn of forcing Gator out of town, and throws acid in her face. Dawn cries out for help, but Donald disregards her and continues to snap photographs. Sometime later, Dawn’s friends, including the Dashers, surround her hospital bed as Dawn’s face bandages are about to be removed. Although the doctor recommends extensive plastic surgery, Donald says Dawn will be more beautiful with the disfigurement, and the doctor responds that Dawn’s friends are the most morally bankrupt people he has ever encountered. A nurse removes Dawn’s bandages, revealing grotesque scars all over her face, and the group determines that she is breathtakingly beautiful. Dawn looks in a mirror and tentatively agrees that she looks pretty. Returning home, Dawn puts on makeup and a new sequined outfit from the Dashers, and poses for another photo shoot after Donna injects liquid eyeliner into Dawn’s veins so she will become even more “beautiful.” Announcing that there is one more gift, the Dashers reveal a human-sized birdcage containing Aunt Ida. Wielding an axe, Dawn chops off Ida’s hand and Donald photographs the assault. When Taffy appears and demands to know who her real father is, Dawn confesses that his name is Earl Peterson. Taffy goes to Earl’s house, but he is drunk and tries to rape her; in turn, she picks up a knife and stabs him to death. Aunt Ida appeals to a distraught Taffy when she returns home, and Taffy obtains a hook to replace Ida’s missing hand. Promising to let Ida out of the cage eventually, Taffy says she needs more time to think, revealing that she might join the Hare Krishna religious group that sells incense sticks downtown. Sporting a new Mohawk hairstyle, Dawn returns home from a photo shoot and notices Ida’s hook. She loses her temper and gags Ida inside her cage. Later, Dawn readies herself in the dressing room of the Superstar Nightclub before her first “public appearance.” Meanwhile, dressed in Hare Krishna garb, Taffy frees Ida from her cage and suggests that she tell the police about Dawn’s crimes and direct them to the Superstar Nightclub. Taffy interrupts Dawn as Donald takes pictures of her in the dressing room. Disgusted by Taffy’s newfound affiliation with the Hare Krishnas, Dawn strangles Taffy to death. Moments later, Donald walks onstage and introduces Dawn as “the most beautiful woman in the world.” Dawn appears and bounces on a trampoline while the crowd cheers wildly. She then jumps in a crib filled with dead fish and rubs one over her body. Wielding a gun, Dawn asks the crowd who wants to be famous and die in the name of art. One man jumps up to volunteer and she shoots him dead. As Dawn continues to shoot, the frightened audience members rush for the exits. Police arrive and shoot at innocent bystanders. Although Dawn escapes into the woods, she is arrested after police dogs sniff her out. At Dawn’s trial, Donna claims that Dawn was not a good model, abused drugs, and scarred her own face, while Donald reveals that Dawn strangled Taffy to death in front of him. In her defense, Dawn explains that Taffy’s murder was part of her art. Dawn is found guilty and sentenced to death, but she is happy to be famous and asks her prison girl friend, Ernestine, to write her posthumous biography. As Dawn is strapped to the electric chair, she gives a speech, thanking Taffy, who died to further her career; Chicklette and Concetta; and all the fans who died in her nightclub act or read about her in the newspaper. Dawn shouts that she loves them all just before she is electrocuted to death. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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