Get your Netflix queues in order, because a landmark lesbian movie finally makes it to DVD tomorrow as Warner Brothers releases Robert Towne’s Personal Best. Starring Mariel Hemingway as Chris Cahill, a young Olympic hopeful who becomes involved with a fellow athlete played by real-life track star Patrice Donnelly, the film was celebrated by Pauline Kael at the time of its release in a manner she usually reserved for works by Altman, Bertolucci and De Palma. Of Towne’s accomplishment, she marveled:
When he shows Chris and the other heroine arm-wrestling, he concentrates on their throbbing veins and their sinews and how the muscles play off one another. He breaks down athletic events into specific details; you watch the athletes’ calves or some other part of them, and you get an exact sense of how their bodies work – it’s sensual and sexual, and it’s informative, too. The film celebrates women’s bodies without turning them into objects; it turns them into bodies. There’s an undercurrent of flabbergasted awe. Everything in the movie is physically charged.
Watching this movie, you feel that you really can learn something essential about girls from looking at their thighs.
While Personal Best attained cult status, it made only $5.6 million at the box office in 1982, the same year another groundbreaking gay movie, the Michael Ontkean/Harry Hamlin romance Making Love, grossed $11.8 million. More than 25 years later, both films can be found on Box Office Mojo’s list of the 100 highest-grossing gay movies since 1980, a sad reminder that LGBT films have yet to enter the mainstream at American movie theaters.
The DVD, which currently has a pre-order price of $13.99 at Amazon, will include an audio commentary by Robert Towne and actor Scott Glenn. You can read Roger Ebert’s original four-star review at his website.
More Tuesday releases of note:
Nancy Kulp devotees take note: some company I've never heard of is releasing a Beverly Hillbillies collection.
Ellen Corby and Will Geer do the Ma and Pa Kettle thing in the sixth season of The Waltons.
Eddie Izzard, everyone’s favorite transvestite comedian, stars in the first season of The Riches, an FX series that costars Minnie Driver.
Republic Pictures has assembled an underwhelming Cary Grant box set that collects Indiscreet, Operation Petticoat, The Grass is Greener, and That Touch of Mink. Operation Petticoat, directed by Blake Edwards, is notable for pairing Grant with Tony Curtis, who mimicked him a year later in Some Like It Hot. That Touch of Mink, a romance with Doris Day, contains a dated, allegedly comic subplot with Gig Young, who is mistaken for homosexual.
Russell Crowe, the Oscar-winning actor, concierge-hating karate master, and noted Jodie Foster hag, stars in 3:10 to
For the Jake Gyllenhaal fans who will inevitably stumble upon this page while scouring the Internet for evidence of his lesbianism, Paramount double-dips with a Zodiac 2-Disc Director’s Cut. I’m not easily scared by movies – that’s what happens when your brother forces you to endure repeated viewing of Jerry Lewis flicks as a child – but I will admit that I was jumpy for a good two days after seeing Zodiac. If you ever want me to kick you in the crotch, just sneak up on me while playing “Hurdy Gurdy
Finally, for the size queens among us, the same company that’s releasing the Beverly Hillbillies set has put together a Milton Berle collection. I'm not bothering with a link because Milton Berle was rude to RuPaul. If he didn't like a 6'7" drag queen, he wouldn't like the rest of us either.