Tales of Ordinary Madness (1981)

Tales of Ordinary Madness (1981)

“Ever heard the sound of one mouth screaming? I had, for years — my own.”

An alcoholic poet (Ben Gazarra) in Los Angeles hooks up with a random woman (Susan Tyrrell) on the bus, then falls for a beautiful but self-harming and suicidal prostitute (Ornella Muti).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Alcoholism and Drug Addiction
  • Ben Gazarra Films
  • Downward Spiral
  • Prostitutes and Gigolos
  • Writers

Marco Ferreri’s cinematic rendering of Charles Bukowski’s short story “The Most Beautiful Woman in Town” offers a rambling, self-indulgent look at a few days in the life of a hipster alcoholic who concludes that the only true existence (that is, one worth writing about) lies amongst society’s castaways. Gorgeous Muti definitely fits the title role of the source story, but she’s badly exploited like every other character Gazarra encounters. Those with a fondness for Bukowski may enjoy hearing a script littered with lines like these:

“I’ve always had a love affair with the streets.”
“Cass had that special look that got to me — like she’d been blown away by the winds of eternity and was swimming back against the current.”
“Now give it to me — take my soul with your c**k!”
“Cass, you bitch — I love you! You’re the most alive woman I ever met.”

However, all others can feel free to skip this one.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • At-times ethereal cinematography

Must See?
No. Listed as a Cult Movie in the back of Peary’s book.


One thought on “Tales of Ordinary Madness (1981)

  1. Only for Bukowski fans – though it’s sort of beyond me how the guy managed to have a writing career.

    The only other time I saw this was years ago on Japanese tv. I only watched it because it was a Peary title.

    I’d totally forgotten it. Seeing it again… yes, it’s dull and pretentious and occasionally unintentionally funny. It seems director Ferreri hired one of the best DPs in the business – Tonino Delli Colli (”The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’, ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’, ‘Lacombe, Luicien’, ‘Seven Beauties’) – so that he could pass off this embarrassment as an art-house flick. (It looks so much better than it deserves to look.)

    Or… maybe everyone involved really thought they were making… art. …Eek.

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