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Film Diary: Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?


Film Diary: Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo?, 1966, directed by William Klein.

This DVD was another random library pick we added to our pile of movies to watch, but after seeing a Louis Malle film that William Klein worked on (Zazie dans le métro) which was so visually interesting, we pushed it up in our queue. Turns out he was a famous photographer for Vogue and for his directorial debut, things start off like a somewhat surreal fashion documentary...

The movie seems to be referred to as a spoof on the fashion industry, but its scope is broader than that. While it satirizes fashion, politics, reality television, and pop culture, it also questions what makes art, identity, and self. It doesn't quite rise to the level of masterpiece as there is a rather silly side plot which detracts a bit. Overall though, it's beautiful to look at with an amusing absurdist sensibility.

The titular character of Polly Maggoo is played by model Dorothy McGowan in her only film role. It would have been interesting to see what else she could have done as an actress as she's very charismatic and perfect in this role. She reminds me of a cross between Sarah Ferguson and Diane Keaton and you can see why she was one of Klein's favorite models. It's funny that as in the film, she was discovered in a mob of Beatles fans.

There are also some great animated sequences that will bring to mind Terry Gilliam's Monty Python work and the closing credits are presented as an awesome continuous illustrated landscape.

photos by Yvonne


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