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Ladies and Gentleman, the Fabulous Stains

DVD Review

By Steven Rosen · October 9th, 2008 · Couch Potato

1982, Rated R

Back when cable superstations were new in the early 1980s, USA Network used to play Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains seemingly every weekend. It was a good film with strong music, barely released to theaters, about an inexperienced, Runaways-like, teen-girl Punk band confronting the road’s and fame’s challenges. In some ways a biting cautionary tale about how the media can create stardom, it also had some pretty interesting rockers in supporting roles: Steve Jones and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols, Paul Simonon of the Clash and especially Fee Waybill of The Tubes as a kind of over-the-hill Alice Cooper on the way down.

The young stars weren’t big names at the time — 15-year-old Diane Lane played one of the Stains, 13-year-old Laura Dern another — but they seemed to know how to act convincingly. And then the film basically disappeared. Now, finally, Rhino’s new Rock ‘N’ Roll Cinema imprint has given it a proper DVD release with a restored print and commentary by stars Lane and Dern and its director, music tycoon Lou Adler. The movie holds up well, as does its music. Especially powerful is the performance by the then-unknown Ray Winstone as an angry British punker — a member of the Stranglers-like Looters — whose band is trying to make it in America. He gives the Stains their break as a supporting act only to have it come back to haunt him. You might see some of Joe Strummer in his fine performance, a harbinger of many more to come from him. (Steven Rosen) Grade: B



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