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'The Fabulous Stains': 5 underrated films about women in rock music

There have been tons of biopics about famous male musicians, as well as a lion’s share of fictionalized and satirical films about the lives of men in music. But for some of the best films about women in the music industry, we have to look at a few of those who were not appreciated in their time.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (1982)

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (pictured above) was nearly forgotten until it was finally released on DVD last year. . A teenaged Corinne (Diane Lane) unwillingly becomes the voice of disillusioned youth. She starts a punk band with her cousin (Laura Dern, in her first role) and sets out on tour. Female fans embrace Corinne’s look and self-empowered attitude, creating an army of followers who dress like her and espouse her message.

This is a film whose structure and narrative did not win either commercial or critical success during its time, but its message is incredibly contemporary, considering the state of fame and youth influence. The film is one of the most feminist I’ve encountered prior to 1990, showing teenage girls claiming their sexuality and un-ladylike behavior. Unfortunately, the ending of the film got studio pressure to make it more aligned with the general public’s expectations, resulting in the characters’ almost hypocritical actions.

Still, Stains is a relic of film history that deserves to be seen and be given credit for many influences on music and films about music. I’ve also been seeing more people dress like Corinne during Halloween.

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is (in)famous for a lot of things: One, it’s a sequel to a film that makes no reference to the original. Two, the screenplay was co-written by Roger Ebert. Three, it was directed by notorious sexploitation filmmaker Russ Meyer and given an “X” rating. Four, it’s often considered one of the worst films ever made.

The film, objectively, is not a good film. The plot is almost nonexistent (something something “an all-girl rock band makes it big but fame changes them” something something), the acting is often laughable, and the cuts in between scenes are jarringly half a second too soon. But it does have everything I love: campy, over-the-top characters, rock bands, fame destroying people, musical performances, fantastic sixties wardrobe, and very attractive people. It is the very definition of a cult film: misunderstood in its day, and lots to love about it. It’s almost begging for a modern-day remake by Baz Luhrmann.

Satisfaction (1998)

A (mostly) female rock band led by Justine Bateman travels to Florida to follow their dreams to play in a club owned by Liam Neeson. Heartbreak, arguments, pill addictions, and life lessons follow aplenty, all with some great songs. (I literally wore out the cassette tape of the soundtrack.) The film is enjoyable mostly because the women in the band all have very different personalities, including an early role for Julia Roberts and Britta Phillips (the singing voice for Jem, of the eighties cartoon Jem and the Holograms.) It’s a shame this didn’t make Justine Bateman a bigger star, but I’m glad things worked out well for Liam Neeson.

Madonna: Truth or Dare (1990)

One of the most striking things about watching Truth or Dare today is remembering how controversial this was when it was released, for its sexual content and general debauchery. How times have changed; if it were released today, it would probably be rated PG. The film chronicles Madonna’s legendary Blonde Ambition tour, including several of the greatest live performances ever captured on film.

Madonna is at her brattiest, most deliciously self-absorbed here, obviously enjoying playing the “character” of a diva celebrity superstar. She is definitely in on the joke. Watching her break up with Warren Beatty, flirt with Antonio Banderas, have a meltdown during sound checks, play “truth or dare” during the infamous water-bottle scene, almost be arrested for indecency, and reside as the queen of her harem of gay dancers is more fun than any reality show that’s on today.

Josie and the Pussycats (2001)

It’s a darn shame that most people dismissed this film as another lazy attempt at cashing in on nostalgia for an old Saturday-morning cartoon and by the words “starring Tara Reid.” Josie was written and directed by Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan, the minds behind the fantastic Can’t Hardly Wait.

Josie and the band are launched into the modern world, where evil music executive Parker Posey, in one of her best comedic roles, convinces them that she can make them huge star—but only if they push corporate products. The big twist (spoiler, I suppose) is that she is adding encoded messages into their music that brainwashes their fans into buying certain brands. The film embraces its campiness fully: The colors and structure of the film resemble a splashy nineties music video. The actual videos for the band are spread throughout the film. And Posey, as well as Alan Cumming, fully understand they are playing cartoonish villains. Rachel Leigh Cook is perfect in the role, and Tara Reid is actually amusing. There’s even a hilarious parody of late nineties boy bands, here named “Du Jour.”

Undoubtedly the shining achievement of the film is its soundtrack. Oh, the soundtrack! Josie and the Pussycats’ original songs are co-written and sung by Kay Hanley of nineties favorite Letters to Cleo. Anyone who has seen this film also has this soundtrack secretly, or not so secretly, in their music collection. You don’t have to search very far for the small but dedicated fanbase who have unwaveringly loved this film since its release.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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