Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey Make Movies… Together?

Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey Make Movies… Together?
San Diego Surf. 1968/1996. Directed by Andy Warhol.
(© 2012 The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved)

Interesting weekend for fans of films by Andy Warhol — or is Paul Morrissey? Or should we say “Andy Warhol” and “Paul Morrissey”?

“San Diego Surf,” the posthumous Warhol film premiered last year by the Warhol Museum, is showing once daily at the Museum of Modern Art through Monday (January 28); on Saturday (January 26), Film Forum is featuring a double bill of “Trash” (1970) and “Women in Revolt” (1971) under the rubric “Produced, written, cast, photographed, edited, and directed by Paul Morrissey.”

As I reported in last Sunday’s New York Times, the mildly interesting “San Diego Surf” could also be characterized as “produced, written, cast, photographed, edited, and directed” by Morrissey. On the other hand, the far more significant “Women in Revolt” is, according to research I did several years ago in connection with the show “Andy Warhol: The Late Work,” at the Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf, almost certainly Warhol’s movie — and, even more important, because it was his last. (“Trash,” which Morrissey will be introducing at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, is absolutely all Morrissey and, for me, his funniest and most trenchant movie.)

While the attribution of “San Diego Surf” to Warhol and “Women in Revolt” to Morrissey arises out of a settlement made between Morrissey and the Warhol Foundation in the mid ’90s, it might be said that the creation of both movies was over-determined by deranged feminist Valerie Solanas’s attempt on Warhol’s life. “San Diego Surf” had only just wrapped when Warhol was shot on June 4, 1968 and was consequently edited by Morrissey alone; “Women in Revolt,” which went into production in March 1970 (soon after shooting was completed on “Trash”) was the first movie in which Warhol was involved following his recovery. Morrissey considered it a “bad idea,” telling Warhol biographer Victor Bockris that “Women in Revolt” was intended as provocative payback — “one of the few things [Warhol] ever did as a deliberate challenge, a show of defiance.” In fact, it’s a comically clueless but clearly vindictive satire on the women’s movement in which each of the three principles (all played by men in drag) can be seen as mocking Solanas.

Although the stars — Jackie CurtisCandy Darling, and Holly Woodlawn — were all Morrissey discoveries, appearing in either “Flesh,” his first post-Warhol film, or “Trash,” his second, Warhol was, by all accounts, the man behind the largely static camera for “Women in Revolt.” There was no script; the dialogue was entirely improvised. The editing is far more rudimentary than that of “Flesh” or “Trash” (0r “San Diego Surf”). In its chaotic tableaux and laissez faire attitude, “Women in Revolt” is a throwback to the quasi-narrative productions of 1967, if not earlier. There are more production and exhibition details in my catalog essay (if you can find it) but in its attitude, “Women in Revolt” strongly suggests an exorcism. “After Andy was shot he became really terrified of women,” Viva told Bockris.

“Women in Revolt” really only makes sense as a Warhol film (or a Jackie Curtis vehicle) although, whatever he thought of it at the time, Morrissey has been more than happy to claim it. Be that as it may, if you see only one “Warhol” or “Morrissey” film this weekend, make it “Women in Revolt.”

Read more J. Hoberman in Movie Journal.