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Desperate Living (1977)

A neurotic society woman murders her husband with the help of her maid and, on the lam, escape to Mortville, a homeless community ruled over by a fascist queen.

Director:

John Waters

Writer:

John Waters
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Liz Renay ... Muffy St. Jacques
Mink Stole ... Peggy Gravel
Susan Lowe ... Mole McHenry
Edith Massey ... Queen Carlotta
Mary Vivian Pearce ... Princess Coo-Coo
Jean Hill ... Grizelda Brown
Brook Yeaton ... Bosley Jr. (as Brook Blake)
Karen Gerwig Karen Gerwig ... Beth
Jay Allan Jay Allan ... Kid
Al Strapelli Al Strapelli ... Doctor Evans
George Stover ... Bosley Gravel
Turkey Joe Turkey Joe ... Motorcycle Cop
Willie Brooks Willie Brooks ... Pieman
James Yeaton James Yeaton ... Dead Bum
Ed Peranio Ed Peranio ... Lieutenant Wilson
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Storyline

A rich housewife murders her husband with the help of her overweight maid, and the two go on the run, ending up in Mortville, a town providing refuge for criminals. They shack up with a lesbian ex-wrestler and her murderess lover, before running into the tyrannical Queen Carlotta, ruler of Mortville... Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It isn't very pretty.....


Certificate:

X | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 May 1977 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mortville See more »

Filming Locations:

Baltimore, Maryland, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$65,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Charm City Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The flashback of the babysitter throwing a party is based on the sort of prank John Waters would pull when he babysat in high school. See more »

Goofs

When Mole first meets Peggy and Grizelda she tells them that there are no toilets in Mortville, but at the lesbian bar there are toilets, where Peggy is harassed by the 'bathroom pervert'. See more »

Quotes

Queen Carlotta: Every word I ever utter shall be considered a royal proclamation!
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the closing credits, both Lieutenant Wilson and Lieutenant Williams are credited as being played by Ed Peranio. See more »

Alternate Versions

In Italy, the film was heavily dubbed, censored, and retitled "Punk Story." See more »

Connections

Referenced in Seinfeld: The Smelly Car (1993) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Great John Waters classic
18 May 2000 | by Casey-52See all my reviews

Fans of John Waters have always disputed which of his films is his best. Two titles will almost always come up: "Female Trouble" and this movie. While I prefer the former, I can understand why "Desperate Living" would also be considered his best!

While Divine was touring with an off-Broadway play, Waters decided to make a movie starring only women! While there are a few men here and there, the cast is predominantly women! Mink Stole is Peggy Gravel, the snobby upper-class lunatic who goes into frantic anxiety attacks and thinks her children have sex! Jean Hill makes one of two film performances as Grizelda Brown, the black maid who smothers Peggy's husband by sitting on him! Susan Lowe is the butch Mole and Liz Renay is the slutty Muffy, two lesbian lovers in the scuzzy town of Mortville! Edith Massey is the evil Queen Carlotta, the tyrannical ruler of Mortville whose soldiers are leather-clad homosexuals! Mary Vivian Pearce is Princess Coo Coo, the half-wit who wants to marry a nudist garbageman! Cookie Mueller is Flipper, a sadistic nightclub performer who tortures men on stage, and Susan Niesp is her lover who sleeps with midgets! If this sounds like entertainment to you, "Desperate Living" is right up your alley! Additional highlights: a transvestite motorcycle cop with bleeding gums, a bizarre lesbian scene between Peggy and Grizelda, and a sex change resulting in a disgusting penis for Mole, which is eventually cut off with scissors and eaten by a dog!

All of the performances are top-notch, the script and dialogue are hilarious, and overall, "Desperate Living" is worthy of being called Waters' best film (but it isn't). Recommended for those who are looking for a comedy that's different.


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