Skyscraper Magazine » Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains
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Dir. Lou Adler
Paramount / Rhino / Warner Music Group
Format: DVD
Release Date: September 16, 2008
By David Nadelle January 10, 2011

From the Archives: this review first appeared in Issue 30 of Skyscraper Magazine (Spring 2009). It is being republished here for your reading pleasure.

“I mean, it’s not Shakespeare but it’s definitely memorable nonetheless,” says Diane Lane in the commentary track for the film Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, and she could not be more right. Directed by Lou Adler (Monterey Pop Festival architect and director of Cheech & Chong’s Up In Smoke) and penned-then-disowned by Nancy Dowd (Slap Shot, Coming Home), who withdrew her name from the credits after claims of sexual harassment during shooting, The Fabulous Stains has finally been made available on DVD after decades of sitting dormant since its small theatrical run in 1982. Buoyed by late-night television screenings and festival appearances, the film has received a second lease on life as a cult favorite.

The movie tells the story of the fictional teenage girl punk band The Stains – Corinne “Third Degree” Burns (a 15-year-old Lane), her sister Tracy (Marin Kanter), and cousin Jessica (a 13-year-old Laura Dern) – as they go from last-ditch opening act to budding superstars to sell-outs to superstar sell-outs. Along for the tour are the great Fee Waybill (The Tubes), a young Ray Winstone, and real-life musos Steve Jones and Paul Cook of The Sex Pistols and Paul Simonon of The Clash, appearing as his band The Looters. The cinematography and costuming is absolutely perfect, capturing a small town punk look (courtesy of advisor and punk journalist Caroline Coon) and low budget tour hitting every shit-hole along the way with suitably depressing weather, scenery, venues, and audiences.

The performances are genuinely great, probably due to the actors’ inexperience and age. And although most will argue about the ending (I personally think the MTV-pandering, Go-Go’s-esque end-turn is an ultra-realistic cherry on the top) they will agree that The Fabulous Stains is essential viewing for any music fanatic. It is especially poignant knowing how many careers and movements have been forged on an equal degree of shambolic musicianship and unheralded hype as did The Stains’.

Visit: Fabulous Stains | Rhino
Purchase: Insound | Amazon