Movies

John Waters on Kitten with a Whip, A Would-Be Cult Classic

“Why do you think you’re such a smoky somethin’ when you’re nothin’ painted blue?” Richly hued and jazzy, Douglas Heyes’ Kitten with a Whip exudes the type of lay-it-on sex appeal, wanton hijinks, and utter cool that charmingly teeters on parody. The 1964 melodrama-cum-B-movie stars Ann-Margret as Jody Dvorak, a flirtatious firebrand and juvenile hall escapee, and John Forsythe as David Stratton, the politician whom she manipulates and traps in his suburban home. Equipped with all the right trimmings—a noirish score, indulgent clawing and hammy scratch marks, narrow escapes, bouffant coifs, a wife’s lipstick-smeared photograph, a neighbor’s suspicions—it’s no wonder that John Waters will be introducing Kitten with a Whip at Anthology Film Archives on Friday, February 4th as part of an ongoing series of events celebrating their 40th anniversary.

Waters, whose deep appreciation for the film is apparent in his own work, shared with Interview some of his earliest memories of seeing Kitten in theaters.

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