By the dawn of the eighties, Divine had already made an outsize impression in a handful of John Waters features, playing insolent women on the wrong side of the law in cult films such as Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble, and becoming a drag icon along the way. But with the deliciously overripe melodrama Polyester (1981), his first studio-backed effort, trash master Waters finally gave his star the opportunity to show his softer side: Divine dazzlingly embodies the sweeping emotions of Francine Fishpaw, a long-suffering—but ever decked-out—Baltimore housewife who seemingly finds true love with the hunky Todd Tomorrow (Tab Hunter). In this clip, taken from the supplement “Dreamland Memories” on our packed new Polyester edition, costume designer and makeup man Van Smith and casting director Pat Moran (both of them frequent Waters collaborators) talk about some of the over-the-top duds that helped Divine settle into the role. To learn more about the bras and girdles that Francine wears in her boudoir (the former filled with voluminous artificial breasts of a very surprising origin), as well as the deliberately garish, stiffly synthetic creations that are key to communicating the film’s heightened vision of suburbia, just hit play above.
Digging Through Movie History at Chaplin’s Studios
Film scholar Craig Barron gives us a tour of the studios on whose back lot Charlie Chaplin built the set for his final film of the silent era, The Circus.
Career Women in the Land of Lubitsch
Critics Molly Haskell and Farran Smith Nehme talk about the highly idiosyncratic heroines who populate Ernst Lubitsch’s comedies, including the protagonist of his final film, Cluny Brown.
Ritwik Ghatak’s Pursuit of Truth Beyond Realism
Acclaimed Indian filmmakers Saeed Akhtar Mirza and Kumar Shahani discuss how the Bengali master mixed expressionism and naturalism in his devastating domestic tragedy The Cloud-Capped Star.
A Howl of Defiance from the Italian Sixties
Marco Bellocchio’s subversive debut feature, Fists in the Pocket, emerged out of a period of social unrest, taking aim at both bourgeois values and Catholic hypocrisy.