Trash, one of three inaugural titles in Arsenal's film book series Queer Film Classics, delves into the legendary 1970 film that was arguably the greatest collaboration between director Paul Morrissey and producer Andy Warhol.
The film Trash is a down-and-out domestic melodrama about a decidedly eccentric couple: Joe, an impotent junkie (played by Warhol film regular Joe Dallesandro), and Holly (played by trans Warhol superstar Holly Woodlawn), Joe's feisty and sexually frustrated girlfriend. Joe is the hunky yet passive center around whom proud Holly orbits; while Morrissey intended to show that "there's no difference between a person using drugs and a piece of refuse," Woodlawn's incredible turn reverses his logic: she makes trash as precious as human beings.
Author Jon Davies argues that Trash, so comical yet so heartrending, is an allegory for the experiences of Dallesandro, Woodlawn, their co-stars, and countless other human "leftovers," whose self-fashioning for Warhol and Morrissey's gaze transformed them---if only fleetingly---from nobodies into somebodies.
The Queer Film Classics series consists of critical yet populist monographs on classic films of interest to LGBT audiences written by esteemed film scholars and critics. The series is edited by authors Thomas Waugh (Out/Lines, Lust Unearthed) and Matthew Hays (The View from Here).
[Davies] delves into the title theme on material and personal levels, considering their symbolic interplay. He also offers observations on the film's motif of redemption as seen through the lens of complex relationships.
What it means to be trash---and indeed, what it means to be a man---are questioned in this thoughtful monograph, part of Arsenal Pulp's new Queer Film Classics series.... With crisp and expressive prose, he reflects upon the offbeat film and the times and culture that inspired it. In this book, he makes the same argument that he asserts is the film's premise: that the people and things society deems worthless often dazzle with unexpected beauty.
-Quill and Quire
Davies delves behind the scenes, looking at the creative friction between Warhol and Morrissey---and Morrissey and the mise en scene in which he found himself working---and the full story of the film, from its weekend shooting schedule in Morriseey's basement to the critical reviews it garnered, with plenty of pages devoted to a scene-by-scene synopsis and analysis.
-EDGE Publications (Boston, Chicago, etc.)
Any reader wishing to learn more about Warhol, Morrissey, Dallesandro, avant-garde film, and, especially, the poignantly brief Superstardom of Holly Woodlawn will find much to appreciate in Davies' scrupulous treatment, informed by great love for the material. Cineaste