Female Trouble (1974) - Rotten Tomatoes

Female Trouble1974

Female Trouble (1974)




Critic Consensus: Director John Waters' affection for camp brings texture to societal transgression in Female Trouble, a brazenly subversive dive into celebrity and mayhem.

Female Trouble Photos

Movie Info

A riotously funny bad-taste epic from director John Waters, Baltimore's "Prince of Puke," this sick classic tells the depraved life story of obese criminal Dawn Davenport (Divine), from her bad-girl youth as a go-go dancer on Baltimore's infamous Block to her death in the electric chair. Mink Stole is terrific as Dawn's bratty daughter Taffy, conceived following a romp on a junkyard mattress with a fat derelict in soiled underpants (also played by Divine). Mary Vivian Pearce and David Lochary co-star as crazed owners of a beauty-parlor who are convinced that "crime equals beauty," and they take Dawn under their wings, forcing her to mainline liquid eyeliner to enhance her appeal. Edith Massey steals the film as Dawn's obsessive neighbor, Ida, who wants her nephew to be gay (because heterosexuals lead "sick and boring lives") and throws acid in Dawn's face when she marries him. A hilariously appalling film, Female Trouble is just as disgusting and far funnier than Waters' previous Pink Flamingos, if not as notorious.

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as Dawn Davenport/Earl Peterson
David Lochary
as Donald Dasher
Mary Vivian Pearce
as Donna Dasher
Mink Stole
as Taffy Davenport
Edith Massey
as Aunt Ida Nelson
Susan Walsh
as Chicklette
Paul Swift
as Butterfly
George Figgs
as Dribbles
George Hulse
as Teacher
Roland Hertz
as Dawn's Father
Betty Woods
as Dawn's Mother
Hilary Taylor
as Taffy as Child
Channing Wilroy
as Prosecutor
Seymour Avigdor
as Defense Lawyer
Elizabeth Coffey
as Earnestine
Sally Turner
as Divine's double
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News & Interviews for Female Trouble

Critic Reviews for Female Trouble

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (2)

The resulting feast of sex, violence, cruelty, and frivolity mocks sentimental notions of family, work, and love, and turns the egomaniacal furies of pop culture inside out.

December 17, 2018 | Full Review…

One of John Waters' best and most notorious movies.

April 18, 2002 | Rating: B-

There is a fierce, maniac brilliance to a John Waters' film which rivets you to your seat for the good reason that if you walked out in the middle... you'd never know what you missed.

November 26, 2019 | Full Review…

In many ways, Female Trouble treads the same ground as Network. It is a prescient look at what it means to be famous and what happens when we finally cross the line.

August 13, 2019 | Full Review…

It is this reversal, the realization that the freak is an essential part of a social whole and that beauty falls into contradiction by attempting to be both normative and expressive of individuality, that Female Trouble executes in uproarious fashion.

November 7, 2018 | Full Review…

A healthy appreciation of both low and high art gives one a balanced perspective that can enhance the understanding of both aspects... Female Trouble uses this concept of the duality of ugliness and beauty in the characterization of Dawn.

November 6, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Female Trouble

While this revolting film is daring, funny and provocative for quite some time, soon it becomes insufferable with a bunch of people shrieking around without end and yelling at each other for much longer than our patience can take (hell, of course, this is John Waters).

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

The criminal career of Dawn Davenport is documented in an attempt to prove the thesis "crime equals beauty," in typically gross Waters fashion featuring psuedo-rape, tacky wallpaper, child abuse, absurd makeup, a woman imprisoned in a bird cage, beehive hairdos, mainlining eyeliner, Divine as a go-go dancer, implied paedophilia, puke, murder, and Edith Massey's saggy naked breasts. Badly acted, edited and photographed--by design. Waters holds up a distorted lens to the unique stylistic and moral ugliness of the 1970s and creates a uniquely nightmarish world. Similar, but more focused, less gimmicky and funnier than the more famous PINK FLAMINGOS. Unflinchingly ugly and almost impossible to like, but worth seeing for adventurous cinemaphiles simply beacuse Waters' vision is utterly unique.

Greg S
Greg S

Super Reviewer

God bless John Waters. He's made some of the best, crudest feel-good movies, and this is one of his crowning achievements. It's amazing how his film, ugly-looking and full of lipstick-smeared freaks, can feel positive and upbeat; while he's mocking everything in sight, he doesn't stand back and protect himself with irony or winks -- he jumps right in there, and that involvement, that energy, is easy to see and feel. It's amazing that he can feature masturbation with needle-nose pliers, beating a child with a chair, a game of "car accident," and Divine literally screwing himself and not have it be off-putting. The very idea that Waters uses a fat transvestite with a beehive hairdo to illustrate his scorn for school shows he's not so interested in subtlety. And Divine is awesome, as always, his prissy, gravely scream -- a freak you want on your side. This is one of Waters' best satirical attempts -- there are digs at hippies and Hare Krishnas, and two scenes in particular are very prophetic: the gay encouraging, and the killing for art. Waters even mocks his own shameless exhibitionism in the testimony of the Dashers

Cassandra Maples
Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer

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