Vincent Canby @ The New York Times, Feb 17, 1972 wrote:
Probably no man, not even Norman Mailer, will ever have the last word on women’s liberation, but until ones does, perhaps the Andy Warhol-Paul Morrissey “Women in Revolt” will do. The movie is called a comedy, but it can be more accurately described as a madcap soap opera whose three manic heroines are played by female impersonators—which may be interpreted as the ultimate put-down of women’s lib, as well as the ultimate endorsement.
More particularly, “Women in Revolt” ( as did “Trash” ) recalls Hollywood movies of the 1930’s and 1940’s, especially those slushy romances in which Alice Faye, Frances Langford and Patsy Kelly compromised everything except their virtue in their pursuit of husbands.
Because Warhol and Morrissey deal in systematic reversals of everything, including sex, their heroines are involved in desperate attempts to get away from men. “You’re mine! You’re mine! You’re mine!” cries an impetuous lover into the rather large ear of Holly Woodlawn, a high-fashion model from Bayonne, “Oh, God,” answers the struggling Holly. “Women will be free!” She’s sick—to the point of always looking exhausted—of being a sex object.
So too is the beautiful Candy Darling, “a society deb socialite” from Long Island who longs to become a movie star, mostly, I suspect, because she answers everything that is said to her with “I have a right to live!” Jackie Curtis, however, is a furtive
liberationist, a 21-year-old virgin who hires a lover through The East Village Other “to find out what we’re fighting against.”
According to Warhol and Morrissey, each liberation demands a little doom. Candy becomes rich, famous and miserable by starring in a series of Italian movies in which she neither speaks, sings, dances nor acts. Holly is last seen wandering drunkenly on the Bowery, “making” (says an absolutely beautiful line in the film’s official synopsis) “the sidewalks her necessity.” Poor Jackie goes back to Bayonne with a baby, having been impregnated by a former Mr. America.
“Women in Revolt,” which opened yesterday at the Ciné Malibu, is not as consistently funny (and awful) as “Trash,” but a lot of it is as hilarious as it is dirty. The film carries no screenplay credit, so I have no idea who is responsible for the dialogue, which often is foolish and occasionally inspired in the way that good parodies must be. “Come down off the trapeze and into the sawdust,” Jackie says in trying to persuade Candy to join The Movement. “That,” sniffs Candy, “is circus talk.”
Holly Woodlawn, in the Patsy Kelly role, is very funny in short takes, and, in longer ones, so grotesque that it’s difficult to watch her. Jackie Curtis reminds me a good deal of an Elizabeth Taylor stripped of that fabulous face, while Candy Darling, who sometimes looks like Marilyn Monroe and sometimes like Mrs. Nixon, and often sounds like Kim Novak, comes very close to being a real actress. Of the apparently male performers, only Michael Sklar, who was so fine in “Trash,” gives anything approximating a straight performance, as an actor’s agent who finally catapults Candy to fame.
“Women in Revolt” is a comparatively elaborate Warhol movie with a limited intelligence, but unlike a lot of better movies, it uses almost all of the intelligence available to it. Thus, in a crazy way, it must be called a success.