Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Devil's Cleavage (1973)

Co-presented with Pacific Film Archive

Pacific Film Archive

PFA Preservation Print

Toward the end of this paralytically funny film, a Kucharian buck blurts out, “If there’s no food for the peasants, give them cheesecake, give them beefcake.” Fortunately, there’s plenty of both: cheesecake in the form of luscious high-cholesterol drama, and beefcake in the form of firmly faceted physiques swathed in the attire of shame. Kuchar’s heady brew froths around a pent–up nurse named Ginger whose marriage is on the rocks when she would prefer it to be straight up. Leaving behind the heaving hills of San Francisco, she heads for new misadventures in the rollicking town of Blessed Prairie, Oklahoma. Kuchar’s rousing cast, including the ever-pouty Ainslie Pryor and the provocatively prim Curt McDowell, pass through a jungle of moodily lit interiors whose effect is dime-store von Sternberg, a creeping claustrophobia of dark shadows and cheap trinkets. Lifting lavishly from Sirk and the circus, that great impresario of the inappropriate Kuchar has immortalized “a biped in heat.”

-Steve Seid

Written, photographed by Kuchar. With Ainslie Pryor, Curt McDowell,
Virginia Giritlian, Art Spiegelman. (108 mins, B&W, 16mm, PFA
Collection, preserved with National Film Preservation Foundation funding)