Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains

The Stains are a punk band fronted by Corrine Burns (Diane Lane). She's angry, she loud, she speaks her mind.

A chance encounter at a local club lands the band an opening spot on a nationwide tour with an English punk act (lead by Ray Winstone and backed by Steve Jones and Paul Cook of the Sex pistols, and Paul Simenon of the Clash), and some aging American crotch rockers (featuring Fee Waybill of the Tubes in a spot-on performance as a has-been singer.)

The tour is something of a fiasco, but a fortuitous thing happens: The bass player for the rock act ODs, forcing the band to leave the tour. Corrine uses this opportunity to push herself into the limelight, portraying herself as the dead man's unrequited, and gaining plenty of free publicity in the process.

Corrine's brash, independent demeanor earns her a following of like-minded young girls. It's not before long that she's managed to woo Billy (the singer of the punk act, the aforementioned Winstone) steal his best song and his manager, and position herself as rising star.

Things don't go quite as planned, and the tenuous career Corrine's built comes crashing down.

The film as a little slow starting, but once it picks up, is actually rather enjoyable. The music ain't half bad and Winstone is, as usual, a likeable enough chap. And of course, Jones, Cook, and Simenon add some authenticity to the film.

The film's major failings are twofold: First, there's the somewhat unbelievable rise and fall of the Stains. They go from complete unknowns to stars to has-beens in about a week. Secondly: the obviously tacked-on happy ending. I guess the Stains actually went from unknowns to stars to has-beens and back to stars again. Which, I guess means the film's message is it's okay to be a completely unscrupulous shit, you'll win out in the end, karma be damned.

Directed by Lou Adler • R • 1981 • 87 minutes

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