Polyester (1981) Movie Poster

Trivia for Polyester (1981)

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  • The Fishpaws live at "Wyman Way". Actress Jane Wyman was the lead in Douglas Sirk's All That Heaven Allows (1955) which is one of the film's inspirations.
  • Final film where director John Waters would work with regular actress Cookie Mueller. She was dying when Waters began production on his next film Hairspray (1988).
  • The look of the film was influenced by the work of 1950s director Douglas Sirk.
  • In the scene where Todd Tomorrow (Tab Hunter) is standing around the car accident, real ambulances were used, and local people called the police, reporting an accident.
  • Todd Tomorrow (Tab Hunter) takes Francine Fishpaw (Divine) to an "intellectual" drive-in theatre that is showing three Marguerite Duras movies. The drive-in marquee reads: "Dusk To Dawn - 3 Marguerite Duras Hits - The Truck - India Song - Destroy, She Said". [See: Le camion (1977), India Song (1975) and Destroy, She Said (1969)].
  • The music when Francine Fishpaw (Divine) falls on the bed is a deliberate parody of generic melodramatic soap opera music.
  • First mainstream overground non-underground movie directed by John Waters.
  • A number of the characters had names that were alliterated. These were Todd Tomorrow, Francine Fishpaw, Cuddles Kovinsky, Sandra Sullivan and Bo-Bo Belsinger. One of the lead cast had an alliterated name too that being Ken King.
  • Star Billing: Divine (1st), Tab Hunter (2nd) and Edith Massey (3rd). Only two of the regular John Waters star Dreamlanders acting troupe cast members received high billing on this picture: Divine and Edith Massey received first and third billing respectively, with Tab Hunter second billed. In the second Divine - Tab Hunter cinema movie collaboration, Lust in the Dust (1984), which was not written and/or directed by Waters, Hunter received higher billing over Divine.
  • The name of the adult movie that was playing at the porno theater was "My Burning Bush".
  • (Cameo) Rick Breitenfeld: As prominent ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) specialist Dr. Quackenshaw explaining the Odorama scratch 'n' stiff card at the film's start.
  • According to show-business trade paper Variety, Tab Hunter "finally enters the picture after a full hour has elapsed".
  • This John Waters movie co-starred 1950s icon Tab Hunter. The later Waters film Cry-Baby (1990) featured another 50s star: Troy Donahue.
  • According to Time Out, Divine's Francine Fishpaw character was "virtually indistinguishable from the Liz Taylor [Elizabeth Taylor] of The Mirror Crack'd (1980)".
  • First of two star teamings of actors Divine and Tab Hunter. The second would be about four years later with Paul Bartel's Lust in the Dust (1984). The two also appeared in 1988's Out of the Dark (1988) which was the final of three films the two both worked on.
  • Final of several top-billed lead roles in a John Waters film for actor Divine who later would co-star but down the billing in only one more Waters movie which was Hairspray (1988)
  • The make and model of Todd Tomorrow (Tab Hunter)'s flashy sports car was, according to the IMCDb, a white 1980 Chevrolet Corvette [C3] Coupé.
  • The penultimate film of several movie collaborations of actor Divine and director John Waters.
  • First John Waters movie to garner an 'R' rating in the USA. All of Waters' previous pictures stateside had been X-rated or unrated.
  • This John Waters film differed from his earlier movies in that it was set in middle class suburbia as against the slum neighborhoods and bohemian culture of his previous pictures.
  • One of numerous John Waters movies set and shot in Baltimore.
  • Not unsurprisingly Divine appears in drag for the entire picture.
  • This picture would be the last major movie to feature a "scratch-and-sniff" card film gimmick until Spy Kids 4-D: All the Time in the World (2011) thirty years later which featured one called "Aromascope" with this later movie being first released in cinemas in the 30th anniversary year of Polyester (1981).
  • The name of the famous French film magazine that Francine Fishpaw (Divine) read at the drive-in theater foyer was "Cahiers du Cinema".
  • There was a scene that was cut during production where Dexter Fishpaw (Ken King) relapsed after returning from prison and shaved off an eyebrow. This explains why he has both eyebrows upon returning home and towards the end of the film.
  • The discussion between the school principal and Francine Fishpaw (Divine when Dexter Fishpaw (Ken King) is expelled is sampled at the start of the later song "Frontier Psychiatrist" (2000) by Australian band The Avalanches.
  • The movie was made at an estimated cost of only US $300,000.
  • The film's closing credits state: "the producers gratefully acknowledge the cooperation and assistance provided by the county executive's office of Anne Arundel County, Maryland, and the Mayor's office of the City of Baltimore, Maryland."
  • First 35 mm format film directed by director John Waters.
  • This John Waters movie was inspired by the films of Douglas Sirk and William Castle.
  • First John Waters film using the camera technique of "Steadicam".
  • This film and Female Trouble (1974) were the first feature films where Divine portrayed a character who was not called Divine.
  • Final non-union (SAG - Screen Actors Guild) John Waters film.
  • The "Odorama" scratch-and-sniff card gimmick had a name change to "Videodorama" for the movie's home video release.
  • The scratch-and-sniff card of "Odorama" was not the first time such gimmick had been employed in motion pictures as it had been preceded by "Aroma Roma" in 1959 and "Smell-o-Vision" in 1960. Later, such a type of gimmick would later also be used for Spy Kids 4-D: All the Time in the World (2011), where it was called "Aromascope".
  • John Waters performed a number of duties on this movie. Waters was the the film's director, the head producer, and the sole screenwriter.
  • Director William Castle was a hero of this film's director John Waters. Castle's movies frequently featured gimmicks and this inspired Waters to use the "Odorama" (Scratch 'n' Sniff Cards) gimmick for this movie.
  • The nick-name of the anti-social pest who stomped on peoples' feet was "the foot stomper" or "Yhe Baltimore foot stomper". The character who did this stomping was glue-sniffing Dexter Fishpaw (Ken King).
  • The variety of items seen in the picture's cartoon movie poster featuring Francine Fishpaw (Divine wearing white slippers holding an assortment of items, some of which related to the smells featured both in the film and in the associated movie gimmick scratch-and-smell Odorama card, were: A tube of glue; a piece of chocolate topped cake; a pair of shoes which were sneakers; a trash can with garbage with a yellow banana skin hanging of the rim; a spilling cup of coffee with a saucer; a skunk with a large tail; a spilling bottle of JB scotch whiskey; a red can of gas with spout with the word "GAS" in yellow lettering; a browned roasted turkey; a rose flower; a lit burning rollie joint; an aerosol can of air freshener; a steaming hot silver coffee pot; an autographed black-and-white photograph of Todd Tomorrow (Tab Hunter); and a white and greenish fish jumping out of some splashing blue water from a pink toilet.
  • First feature film directed by John Waters since Desperate Living (1977) where there was an interval of around four years.
  • Todd Tomorrow (Tab Hunter) takes Francine Fishpaw (Divine) to an "intellectual" drive-in theatre showing three Marguerite Duras movies. In their next cinema movie collaboration, Lust in the Dust (1984), the name of the saloon cantina was "Marguerita's" which was named after it's owner Marguerita Ventura (Lainie Kazan).
  • Final feature film directed by John Waters until Hairspray (1988) where there was an interval of around seven years.
  • Divine starred in this John Waters movie playing a character, Francine Fishpaw, who had an alliterated name. In their previous cinema movie collaboration, Divine had portrayed a character called "Dawn Davenport", a character who also had an alliterated name.
  • Tab Hunter worked about ten days reportedly somewhere between one and two weeks
  • The real-life Edmondson Drive-in Theater featured in this film was located at 6000 Baltimore National Pike in Catonsville, Maryland, US. It has now been demolished. The venue, which had a car capacity of 950 cars, had originally opened in May 1954, and closed its gates in 1991, which was about a decade or ten years after Polyester (1981) had premiered.
  • John Waters was asked to direct Lust in the Dust (1984), the re-teaming film of Divine and Tab Hunter, but Waters declined because he did not write the script.
  • The 23rd June 1981 edition of publication 'Us' stated that this movie was tenth film of director John Waters where in fact it was actually the eleventh.
  • Publicity for this picture reported the weight of transvestite star Divine as being three hundred pounds.
  • On the film's audio commentary with director John Waters recorded for the movie's DVD release in 2004 he voiced his pleasure at having had audiences to go out and actually "pay to smell sh**."
  • Reproduction scratch and smell "Odorama" cards were manufactured in 1999 by the Independent Film Channel so they could be used at John Waters revival film festival screenings.
  • Reportedly, the Odorama name and logo were used by Paramount Pictures/Nickelodeon and the producers of Rugrats Go Wild (2003) as New Line Cinema had allowed the copyright rights to expire and this allegedly aggrieved director John Waters.
  • The cul-de-sac address that the Fishpaw family lived at in Baltimore, Maryland, USA was "538 Wyman Way".
  • The movie's "smelling is believing" was a reference and/or parody of the earlier tagline seeing is believing" which is also the name of a 1941 mystery novel and an earlier British film Seeing Is Believing (1934)].
  • Actor Tab Hunter sang the film's title song "Polyester" which had words and music written and composed by Chris Stein and Debbie Harry'.
  • The movie featured the regular actors and actresses that had appeared in John Waters movies who were an acting troupe ensemble known as "The Dreamlanders".
  • Film critic Leonard Maltin wrote that this movie was the "first mainstream feature" of director John Waters.
  • Most of the actors and actresses from the Dreamlanders acting troupe who had appeared in earlier John Waters movies in major parts appeared in more minor and supporting roles in this John Waters film.
  • Regular John Waters' "Dreamlanders" acting troupe regulars who appeared in this film included: Divine, Mink Stole, Edith Massey, Cookie Mueller, Sharon Niesp, Jean Hill, Marina Melin, Susan Lowe, and Mary Vivian Pearce.
  • Included among the American Film Institute's 2000 list of the 500 movies nominated for the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.
  • Various residents of the suburban neighborhood this film was shot on location at appear as extras.
  • Ken King was discovered in a bar.
  • Bo-Bo's car belonged to John Waters.
  • Jean Hill bit the car tire for real.
  • The hayride at the unwed mothers home was based on something that happened to a lady friend of John Waters.
  • Actual police officers play cops in this film.
  • This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #995, and the third John Waters film to be released by them, following Multiple Maniacs and Female Trouble.

Spoilers

  • The ten smells on the gimmick Odorama scratch and sniff card featured in the film were- in the same chronological order as in the film and corresponding to the number on the scratch-and-smell card: 1. rose (i.e. a flower), 2. flatulence, 3. model sirplane glue, 4. pizza, 5. gasoline from a can, 6. skunk, 7. natural gas from a gas oven, 8 m. leather upholstery in a new car, 9. dirty shoes (i.e. a pair of sneakers), 10. air greshener from an aerosol can.
  • 1950s actor and heart-throb, Tab Hunter, and transvestite actor and actress Divine, share a passionate on-screen kiss in this picture.
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