Myra Breckinridge (1970)

Myra Breckinridge Poster

Myron Breckinridge flies to Europe to get a sex-change operation and is transformed into the beautiful Myra. She travels to Hollywood, meets up with her rich Uncle Buck and, claiming to be Myron's widow, demands money. Instead, Buck gives Myra a job in his acting school. There, Myra meets aspiring actor Rusty and his girlfriend, Mary Ann. With Myra as catalyst, the trio begin to outrageously expand their sexual horizons.

"Myra Breckinridge" is a 1970 satirical comedy movie directed by Michael Sarne, based on the 1968 novel of the very same name by Gore Vidal. The film is infamous for its questionable subject, strange humor, and a turbulent production history. Starring Raquel Welch, John Huston, Mae West, Rex Reed, and Farrah Fawcett, the motion picture became a critical and industrial failure upon release, however has since amassed a cult following for its adventurous design and method to gender politics.

Plot Overview
The film informs the story of Myron Breckinridge (played by Rex Reed), a gay guy who undergoes gender reassignment surgical treatment to end up being Myra Breckinridge (Raquel Welch), with the intent of infiltrating and subverting the patriarchal Hollywood system. Myra is defined by her scathing wit and radical feminist views, which she uses to review the representation of gender and sexuality in early 20th-century cinematic culture.

Following her transformation, Myra sets her sights on claiming her share of an inheritance held by her uncle, Buck Loner (John Huston), a B-movie cowboy and the owner of an acting academy in Hollywood. She plans to include herself in the academy and disrupt its operations with her subversive ideas. Throughout the movie, Myra controls and seduces both males and females, using her sexual interest perform her strategies and challenge the recognized standards of sexuality and gender roles.

Designs and Themes
"Myra Breckinridge" includes a non-traditional narrative style, mixing linear storytelling with erratic, jarring inserts of classic movie clips that serve to talk about the action or magnify the satirical tone. It's an avant-garde method that deliberately confuses the audience, reflecting the chaotic turmoil of gender norms that Myra embodies.

The film is intriguing in its exploration of gender identity, sexuality, and the fluid nature of both. Myra Breckinridge is a character ahead of her time, embodying themes of gender rebellion and non-conformity that would become main to discussions in the latter years. In her pursuit of taking apart the male-dominated hierarchy, Myra interferes with the binary views of gender and challenges the audience to challenge their own prejudgments.

Performances and Characters
Raquel Welch's portrayal of Myra brought her vital attention, though not all positive, for her depiction of a character so unconventional in her unapologetic welcome of female sexuality and power. John Huston's Buck Loner represents the vestigial perfects of masculinity that Myra seeks to overthrow, while Mae West, in a rare late-career look as the talent scout Leticia Van Allen, provides a link to old Hollywood glamour and a subversive take on sexual liberation.

Rex Reed's role as the pre-transformation Myron offered a stark contrast to Welch's Myra, serving to highlight not only the physical change but the radical shift in agency and purpose that the character experiences.

Reception and Legacy
Upon its release, "Myra Breckinridge" was consulted with extremely unfavorable reviews, with critics deriding its irregular pacing, viewed indecencies, and disjointed narrative. Audiences were likewise puzzled and postponed by the film's weird mix of satire, sexual explicitness, and movie history commentary.

Regardless of its preliminary reception, "Myra Breckinridge" has actually attracted a specific appreciation with time for its audacity and its difficulty to social standards. It has actually been re-evaluated by some as a surreal, transgressive piece of cinema that was daringly meaningful and bizarrely amusing, delighting in its own outrageousness.

To this day, "Myra Breckinridge" remains an interesting artifact from a time of cultural shifts and remains a discussion point in studies of queer cinema and gender studies for its polarizing portrayal of a character that deconstructs standard narrative and social expectations.

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