Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains Lou Adler

Known mostly as a late night cable oddity back in the day, Lou Adler’s long out-of-print cult classic, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains, finally gets the kiss of life thanks to Rhino’s crate-digging. The film stars a 15-year-old Diane Lane as Corinne Burns, a teenaged orphan who’s built a reputation for herself on local TV. With her sister (Marin Kanter) and cousin (a 13-year-old Laura Dern), she’s in a band called the Stains, a punk group as talented as the Shaggs that manage to land a U.S. tour with some aging glam rockers and a snotty punk band (played by Ray Winstone, the Clash’s Paul Simonon and Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones and Paul Cook). During their disastrous debut, Corrine expresses her inner punk attitude on stage and overnight transforms herself and the band into every teenage girl’s rebellious icon. But the meteoric rise turns to fall just as quickly and soon the message of selling yourself out as a commodity hits the band like a ton of bricks, bringing their downfall. It hits so hard (literally) and fast, in fact, that the compacted plot loses its sincerity and portrays writer Rob Morton — and Nancy Dowd, who took her name off the film — as naïve visitors to rock’n’roll culture. But it doesn’t matter, because Fabulous Stains is so damn adorable, with its proto-riot grrrl posturing and bubblegum depiction of punk rock. The nostalgic allure is enough to give it its return influence, especially seeing such young turns by Lane, Dern and Winstone, who hits punk fervour square in the head. Lane and Dern add a bubbly commentary that shares just how important the film was for them. Lane especially, who gets right in there pointing out flaws and how it isn’t her voice in one scene. They seem in awe of it all, especially Winstone, who they melt over every time he hits the screen. It’s almost as fun as the film itself. Plus: Adler commentary. (Rhino)