Woman in Revolt
A Podcast About Women in Film & TV

E7 Teen Favorites: 'Tender Mercies'

"Tender Mercies" (1983) is about a former successful musician named Mac Sledge (Robert Duvall) who lost everything good in his life due to alcohol. When the film opens, he and a friend are staying in a motel, getting drunk and fighting while the proprietor, Rosa Lee (Tess Harper), and her young son, Carl (known as Sonny, played by Allan Hubbard), watch from their porch. When the friend skips out before paying the bill the next day, Mac offers to work for Rosa Lee in order to compensate for the room. She agrees, but tells him that he can’t drink while he’s working there.

Thus begins Mac’s slow streak of improving his life. He sticks with sobriety, marries Rosa Lee, and starts writing music again. It’s the kind of movie that’s not really plot-driven … more slice of life, at arm’s length, character study about Mac’s quiet redemption. Other highlights are Betty Buckley, who plays Mac’s successful country star ex-wife, Dixie, and Ellen Barkin as Mac’s estranged teen daughter, Sue Ann. The screenplay is written by Horton Foote, who won the best adapted screenplay Oscar for “To Kill a Mockingbird” in 1962. He also won a best original screenplay Oscar for “Tender Mercies” in 1983 and has a Pulitzer Prize for drama for his play, “The Young Man From Atlanta” and an Emmy for a TV adaptation of William Faulkner’s “Old Man.” The director, Bruce Beresford (who we completely forgot to mention by name — sorry, Bruce), is probably best known for “Driving Miss Daisy” (1989), although my personal favorite film of his is “Double Jeopardy” (1999).

Here are some things we mentioned during the episode and/or that we think you should check out:

Some interesting trivia:

  • Duvall’s only Oscar is for this film. He had been nominated for the following films (but did not win): “The Godfather” (1972), “Apocalypse Now” (1979), “The Great Santini” (1979), “The Apostle” (1997), “A Civil Action” (1998), and “The Judge” (2014).
  • Duvall’s contract stipulated that all of the songs had to be sung by him.
  • “Over You,” the song Dixie performs at the Opry, was also nominated for an Oscar.
  • Duvall wrote two of Mac's songs, "Fool's Waltz" and "I've Decided to Leave Here Forever.” Others were country classics and not written for the film.
  • Universal Studio lost faith in the film after it performed poorly at test screenings. They also sort of ignored Willie Nelson’s offers to promote the film.
  • David Lynch was a contender for director at one point. Can you imagine this film with him at the helm? Actually, it probably would have been like “The Straight Story" (1999).
  • The film was selected to screen in competition for the prestigious Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1983.
  • Robert Duvall made his official cinema movie debut as Arthur "Boo" Radley in “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962), whose screenplay was written by Horton Foote.
  • Horton Foote and Duvall worked together on five projects: “TKAM,” William Faulkner’s “Tomorrow” (1972), “Tender Mercies,” “The Midnight Caller” (play, 1958 debut), and “The Chase” (1966, based on his 1956 novel).
  • Tess Harper and Bruce Beresford worked together on three films: “Tender Mercies,” “Crime of the Heart” (1986), and “Alibi” (1989). 
  • Jeannine Oppewall was hired as art director. Beresford praised her as "absolutely brilliant," especially for her attention to very small details, "going from the curtains to the color of the quilts on the floors." It was Oppewall who named the motel Mariposa, Spanish for "butterfly," which symbolizes the spiritual resurrection Mac Sledge would experience there. Oppewall has four academy award nominations for best art direction:  "Seabiscuit" (2003), "LA Confidential" (1997), "Pleasantville" (1998), and "The Good Shepherd" (2006).

E6 Teen Favorites: 'Jawbreaker'

In Darren Stein's 1999 cult classic, "Jawbreaker," Courtney (Rose McGowan), Marcie (Julie Benz), and Julie (Rebecca Gayheart) kidnap their best friend, Lizz Purr (Charlotte Ayanna) on her birthday and end up accidentally killing her. The original plan was to tie Liz up, throw her in the trunk of Courtney’s car, and drive her to a local coffee shop for some pancakes. Only ... when the girls open the trunk, ready to take a surprised pic of Liz on a Polaroid camera, she’s completely unresponsive, choked to death on a jawbreaker that Courtney used as a makeshift gag. While Marcie and Courtney freak the fuck out, Courtney coolly devises a plan for how they’ll handle the situation. What she doesn’t account for is nerdy Fern Mayo (Judy Greer) catching the girls in the midst of the cover up and throwing a wrench in their plans.

Here are some things we mentioned during the episode:

  • As of now, the full movie is available for free on YouTube.
  • We highly recommend watching the ModernGurlz video breakdown of the film's iconic fashion and the way it's used to complement the character development.
  • Vice's oral history of the film is excellent.
  • EW's oral history is also worth reading, especially for the comments from costume designer Vikki Barrett.
  • This is not "Jawbreaker" specific, but cinematographer Amy Vincent did a quick interview for ARRI Cameras that is worth watching if you're interested in learning more about her.
  • This Paste article by Carli Scolforo is an interesting comparison of "Jawbreaker" and "Jennifer's Body."

Also, IDK what I was thinking ... "Jawbreaker" came out on DVD shortly after the VHS release. I probably did watch it on DVD, but who knows. My memories from the early aughts are hazy at best. I can't even remember the last name of the boyfriend I first watched this movie with.

Oh, and to give you an idea of how wild the late '90s were when it comes to teen movies, here are some others that came out right before or after "Jawbreaker" in 1999:

  • “Cruel Intentions” (Roger Kumble)
  • “Drop Dead Gorgeous” (​​Michael Patrick Jann)
  • “Election” (Alexander Payne)
  • “But I'm a Cheerleader” (Jamie Babbit)
  • “She’s All That” (Robert Iscove)
  • “Never Been Kissed” (Raja Gosnell)
  • “American Pie” (Paul Weitz)
  • “Drive Me Crazy” (John Schultz)
  • “Varsity Blues” (Brian Robbins)
  • “10 Things I Hate About You” (Gil Junger)
  • “Dick” (Andrew Fleming)
  • “Teaching Mrs. Tingle” (Kevin Williamson)
  • “Idle Hands” (Rodman Flender)
  • This was also the same year Ryan Murphy’s “Popular” premiered.

E5 30th Anniversary: 'A League of Their Own'

“A League of Their Own” is a fictional account of a real moment in history when WWII prompted major league baseball to start a new professional league with women, called the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). The 1992 film follows The Rockford Peaches, the most successful team in the league, during their first season. Catcher Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) and her little sister, pitcher Kit Keller (Lori Petty), have a classic sibling rivalry rooted in a love of competition and a well of insecurity. Kit has always envied Dottie’s talent and beauty, feeling resentful of how easily good things seem to come her way. Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell play Mae Mordabito and Doris Murphy, two friends who are honestly kind of forgettable because their roles are underwritten. Mae is a center fielder who used to be a dancer in a club and enjoys gentleman attention. Doris plays third base and … is kind of loud, I guess? Marla Hooch (Megan Cavanagh) is the “ugly” second base woman who can hit like a motherfucker. Another casting highlight is Tom Hanks as the drunk, washed up former baseball player-turned-manager, Jimmy Dugan. The plot loosely builds to the final World Series Game between the Rockford Peaches and the Racine Belles and then time jumps to the present day, when these women are being honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Here are some things we mentioned during the episode:

"A League of Their Own" is currently streaming on Amazon Prime and can be rented from all of the standard places.

At one point, I think I mention the Rockford Peaches being "inducted" into the Baseball League of Hall of Fame. What I really mean to say is that they were honored with an exhibit. Thus far, Effa Manley is the only woman who has been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

E4 Queer Classics: 'The Watermelon Woman'

Cheryl Dunye’s 1996 film, “The Watermelon Woman” is a documentary/fiction hybrid about a young Black lesbian filmmaker named Cheryl, played by Dunye, who is on a quest to tell the story of a (fictionalized) forgotten Black actress named Faith Richardson (or Faye Richards in Hollywood). As Cheryl works on her project, some of her own relationships — platonic and romantic — are tested. This makes the film sound kind of dramatic, but it’s pretty lowkey in its storytelling approach, which is why I like it so much. Cheryl faces obstacles, but they’re never the sole focus. The film is more about her quest to understand, create, reimagine, and preserve queer history … for herself, those who came before her, and those whose stories remain lost to the sands of time. I guess I would say that more than anything, it’s a film about Black queer erasure and reclamation.

Here are some things we mentioned during the episode:

Also, two important things!

YOU CAN WATCH THIS MOVIE ON KANOPY. I always forget about this because I don't have access through my library. I still don't think this is the restoration, but at least it's another free option for those with an account. I've also been told it's on Mubi in the UK.

The second important thing is actually not important, but "Stranger Things" had a $30M budget per episode, not $35M. Regardless, it's still a fuckload of money. Oh, and "Go Fish" came out in 1994. It's sadly no longer available on Criterion Channel, but you can rent it other places.

E3 Deep Dive: Maila Nurmi AKA Vampira

TW: This episode involves some discussion of sexual assault and disordered eating (not heavily, but they are mentioned).

Maila Nurmi AKA Vampira was best known for hosting The Vampira Show on KABC-TV, a Los Angeles affiliate of ABC, from 1954-1955. While the show was short-lived, it received international attention and pioneered the concept of themed movie hosts. In other words, it was a big fucking deal but because it was a live broadcast and none of the episodes were properly archived, it’s a bit lost to the annals of film history.

In 2021, Nurmi's niece, Sandra Niemi, published a biography of her aunt called "Glamour Ghoul: The Passions and Pain of the Real Vampira, Maila Nurmi." We can't recommend this book highly enough. It really got us both interested in learning more about Nurmi so that we could put together this episode and hopefully spread her legacy to other people who might not know much about her (or even worse, have her confused with Elvira). Here are a few other books/articles we recommend reading:

And here are some movies where you can either see Vampira in action or learn more about her:

  • "Plan 9 from Outer Space" (1959), streaming free for Amazon Prime members
  • "Ed Wood" (1994), streaming on Disney+. Nurmi isn't in this, but Lisa Marie plays her. I recommend watching it after "Plan 9 from Outer Space" because this movie is a biopic (sort of) on that movie's writer/director, Ed Wood. It does unfortunately feature Johnny Depp, so ... proceed at your peril.
  • "Vampira and Me" (2012), streaming free (with commercials) on Tubi.

If you search YouTube, you can find some small clips from "The Vampira Show." I am so fucking angry that these weren't archived, but what are you gonna do? If anyone knows of any good sources we haven't considered, please let us know!

Because I am a long-winded bitch, here are some interesting tidbits that did not make it into the episode but that I think people should know:

  • One episode of "The Vampira Show" featured a disguised James Dean as a naughty schoolboy who had his knuckles rapped by Vampira.
  • In 1987, at sixty-four years old, Nurmi cut two singles with Satan’s Cheerleaders, a band fronted by her friend Jane Satan. After the punks came the goths and then the fanatics of "Plan 9 From Outer Space."
  • Nurmi was proud of her creation and made paintings of her alter ego, which she sold online later on in life. In the 2008 LA Times article which was published within a week of her death, she was quoted as saying, “I don’t have any babies or any social history that’s remarkable, so I’m leaving something behind, you know, when the time comes to say goodbye, I’m leaving something.”
  • Here's a local news interview with David Putter, Nurmi and Orson Welles' son.
  • Here's the clip of Nurmi in "The Beat Generation" (1959) with a rat on her shoulder.

E2 Recent TV: 'Conversations with Friends'

"Conversations with Friends" is about two young women, Frances (Alison Oliver) and Bobbi (Sasha Lane), going into their senior year at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. They used to date but are now just friends and perform spoken word poetry together. At one of their shows, they meet Melissa (Jemima Kirke), a writer who takes an interest in them and initiates a friendship. From the jump, Frances feels that Melissa favors Bobbi and is always awkward and unsure around her. She feels more comfortable around Nick (Joe Alwyn), Melissa’s actor husband who has a similarly quiet nature. When Nick and Frances begin having an affair, the dynamic between the characters shifts and interesting truths are revealed. "CWF" is currently streaming on Hulu.

Here are some things we either mentioned during the episode or think you might like to check out:

While we do talk a bit (especially at the end) about the people involved with making the show, this discussion primarily centers around the characters and how we feel about the way they were portrayed.

E1 2022 Favorites: 'Anaïs in Love'

"Anaïs in Love" is a film about a young millennial woman named Anaïs, a whirling tornado of raw emotions and no filter. She’s working on a thesis on 17th century descriptions of passion but uhhhh doesn’t seem very passionate about it. She becomes involved with a man in his sixties named Daniel after breaking up with her partner (I forget his name, but he sucks and tries to make her feel guilty about getting an abortion, so fuck him). Through that affair, she becomes obsessed with his wife, Emilie, who is a writer. She first marvels over Emilie’s possessions … her Guerlain lipstick and her fancy face creams, her silk dress, while briefly staying at Daniel’s house when Emilie is out of town. Then, when she actually meets Emilie in person, by happenstance, things quickly escalate.

Here are some things we mentioned during the episode:

  • The Magnolia Pictures website with a list of places where you can watch "Anaïs in Love"
  • My website, Woman in Revolt, which is currently entrenched in a never-ending "Gilmore Girls" rewatch project
  • My review of "Anaïs in Love"
  • Donate to an abortion fund because wow, shit got bleak after we recorded this episode

Social media disgusts me, but I do try to update Instagram at least once per week ... sometimes more when the world isn't imploding. Follow me there, if you must.