Ladies and Gentleman, The Fabulous Stains is a little watched film that was deemed a failure on its original release. Over thirty years later and the film is finally beginning to get the recognition it deserves as an ahead of its time satire on the music industry, fandom and the media.

http://www.reelhipster.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/ladies-and-gentlemen.jpgThe film’s story is a simple on the face of it… Corrine “Third Degree” Burns (Diane Lane) forms a punk band, The Stains, and they go on tour with up-and-coming British band, The Looters. Despite The Stains having little talent they soon become the more popular band; with Corrine adding a white stripe to her hair in order to look unique. This move is soon copied by thousands of doting fans (all young girls) that with the help of extensive TV coverage become ‘Skunks’ – the modern day equivalent of a Belieber.

The main focus on the film is on Corrine and her intriguing personality that is impossible to read; thanks to the great performance of Lane. Throughout the film the characters motives are impossible to read as she changes her mind on everything seemingly on a whim. It is unclear whether she is just a rebellious teen who happened to become a star or if she cleverly played everyone around her including the media in order to become a success and this ambiguity adds a depth and charm to the film.

Lane however does not give the best performance of the film; as a young, slim Ray Winstone steals the show in his role as Billy the lead singer of the Looters. Right from the outset Winstone shows that he is a great actor and brings a real gravity to his character, offering several gruff speeches that he is later to be known for. His climatic speech to the crowds of ‘Skunks’ in which he calls them ‘commercials’ is just one of many stand out moments in a beautiful performance.

The film in essence being a road-movie about music, obviously puts a lot of emphasis on its soundtrack; which is fantastic with Paul Cook, Steve Jones (of the Sex Pistols) and Paul Simonon (from the Clash) making up the rest of the line-up of the Looters alongside Winstone. The songs are typical punk rock, so not for everyone but a fans of the genre will appreciate them.

The heart of the Fabulous Stains comes from its satire of the everything it touches. Nothing is safe from its grasp and it’s wonderful; its attack on the media and exploitation of fans is particularly scathing with the message that ‘you don’t need talent to become successful’ coming across strongly.

Ladies and Gentleman, The Fabulous Stains is a fabulous film that you could easily watch on repeat; it feels a lot more current than its 1980’s release date and many of its messages stand true today, perhaps even more so than at its time of release.

 

9/10