Female Trouble (1974)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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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.
Classics , Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
In Theaters:
Continental Home Video

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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
Cookie Mueller
as Concetta
Susan Walsh
as Chicklette
Ed Peranio
as Wink
Paul Swift
as Butterfly
George Figgs
as Dribbles
Susan Lowe
as Vikki
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
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Critic Reviews for Female Trouble

All Critics (19) | Top Critics (1)

One of John Waters' best and most notorious movies.

April 18, 2002
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic

The Pop of Trash's follow-up to Pink Flamingos is a more hilarious, shocking and poignant feature, with Divine in top form.

Full Review… | February 19, 2012

How does one follow up a legendary affront to decency? In John Waters' case, he moved on.

Full Review… | August 13, 2007

There's nothing divine about this earthly piece of trash.

Full Review… | February 3, 2007
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Combined with...Waters' own private peculiarities, Female Trouble stands along side Pink Flamingos as a sure sign of this director's depth and talent.

Full Review… | August 22, 2005
DVD Verdict

For John Waters purists, this will be upheld as the real thing, but for most others, the licentious social commentary will only disgust or shock.

Full Review… | February 21, 2004

Audience Reviews for Female Trouble

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

For roughly half of its running time this plods along aimlessly but very entertainingly. However, when it finds focus and becomes a poorly developed satire on the celebrity of criminals, the gags dry up and boredom sets in. The problem is, because Dawn Davenport's so-called criminality is barely represented until her final murderous outburst, her claim to fame and notoriety seems very tenuous indeed. Like it or loathe it, "Serial Mom" tackled a similar theme more pointedly and more amusingly.

Stephen M
Stephen M

Super Reviewer

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