Outrageous! (1977)

Craig Russell, Hollis McLaren, Richert Easley, Allan Moyle,
A story about a female impersonator who rooms with a pregnant schizophrenic.
  • 6.9 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Margaret Gibson Gilboord, Writer:
  • Richard Benner, Director:
  • William T. Marshall, Henk Van der Kolk, Producer:
7 / 10

One of my favorite films

Outrageous is a very special film. Imagine you live in the 70s and you were in a club or theatre anywhere in Canada or the USA. The announcer says: Ladies and Gentlemen. Mrs. Judy Garland. You think by yourself. Judy Garland? I thought this woman is dead. But the women on the stage is not Judy Garland but Craig Russell (a Canadian), one of the best female impersonators of our century. Because he was not only able to imitate the look of his idols (many great actresses and singers from the 30s to the 60s). He could also imitate the voices of the women. In the film he plays a gay character (which he really was) who shares a flat with a schizophrenic woman and makes his unbelievable shows at the evening. Craig Russell died too early of AIDS and he made only two films: Outrageous and the sequel. Craig Russell was a unique person and after his death Canada and the world had lost one of its greatest idols.

9 / 10

A performance document of perhaps the finest female impersonator ever

The late Craig Russell is the star of Outrageous! It was a cult favorite here in the Boston area, playing for weeks at the late lamented Orson Welles Cinema. I had a bright red T-shirt with the movie logo on the front that I treasured for years.

First and foremost, the film is a document of his brilliant performances; he not only got the look and mannerisms of his subjects down cold, he also spoke and sung all the voices himself!

The plot, such as it is, is a tale about his attempts to become a successful performer, and about his schizophrenic friend and how he and she support and heal each other. It's not bad, but the performances are the heart and soul of the film.

Outrageous! was long out of print; happily for the world, it's available again. Get it while you can.

8 / 10

Outaregeously Human

What an unexpected treat.Long before Pricilla and all the others, there was Craig Russell. His impersonations remains vividly embedded in my brain because besides the look and mannerisms, I perceived the soul of the characters in question. They are not caricatures but tributes. His Judy Garland is heartbreaking and his Mae West hilarious.As if all that was not enough we have a screenplay of such intelligence and wit that I'm surprised this film is not a classic. When Holly's doctor finds out she lives with a man, he tries to warn her about the risks (she's bi polar) of an emotional, sexual entanglement. She reassures him telling him "Don't worry, we sleep in separate worlds" Lovely.

9 / 10

quite a document

At first I reacted against the sentimentality of the madness-as-nonconformism theme, which is really mostly down to Hollis McLaren; as Craig Russell's heavily medicated roommate, she gets more than a little familiar when she expresses her downturns with hushed gibberish or staring through her fingers. But in between episodes she really gets to articulate the bill of outsiders' rights, and Russell is right there with her. No comparable clichés in this film's depiction of the Toronto gay scene, a diverse yet claustrophobic enclave that places transvestites on the bottom of a depressingly rigid hierarchy - an economic threat to closeted hairdressers, stealth patriarchs to the second-wave dykes. At a time when cinematic queerness was synonymous with effete self-loathing, this sympathetic and detailed depiction of a complex, vital skid-row subculture was decades ahead of its time, and has real time-capsule value today. All of which to say is that they're far from just marking time between Russell's impersonations, which are definitive even if he did steal them from Mae West herself. Put the two together and you've got a film that synthesizes social engagement and entertainment value with almost unprecedented verve.

7 / 10

You'll never see better drag

Both leads are spectacular. Unlike most early (pre-AIDS) gay films, this still hits the spot. I've been ruined for life by these (actual, not lipped) impersonations. All by themselves, the impersonations are worth renting/buying this film, but the rest of the story is also superbly done. This should prove to those who get their kicks out of ridiculing Canadian films that they were wrong.