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Glamour has never been more grotesque than in Female Trouble,which injects the Hollywood melodrama with anarchic decadence. Divine, director John Waters’ larger-than-life muse, engulfs the screen with charisma as Dawn Davenport, the living embodiment of the film’s lurid mantra, “Crime is beauty,” who progresses from a teenage nightmare hell-bent on getting cha-cha heels for Christmas to a fame monster whose egomaniacal impulses land her in the electric chair. Shot in Waters’ native Baltimore on 16 mm, with a cast drawn from his beloved troupe of regulars, the Dreamlanders (including Mink Stole, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Edith Massey, and Cookie Mueller), this film—the director’s favorite of his work with Divine—comes to life through the tinsel-toned vision of production designer Vincent Peranio and costume designer/makeup artist Van Smith. An endlessly quotable fan favorite, Female Trouble offers up perverse pleasures that never fail to satisfy.
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