“I guess I’m not the only who has had to fuck her way to the top!” — Jerilee Randall (Pia Zadora), accepting an award at The Awards Ceremony in The Lonely Lady (1983)
When I first started doing research on which movies were worthy of being considered for inclusion in this series about embracing the melodrama, I had no idea that it would eventually lead to me watching the worst film ever made.
However, that is exactly what happened. 1983’s The Lonely Lady is without a doubt the worst film that I have ever seen. Normally, this is where I would say that the film is entertaining specifically because it is so bad but no, this movie just terrible. Is it so bad that its good? No, it’s just bad. Is it one of those films that you simply have to see to believe? Well, that depends on how much faith you have in God. Does the film at least have a curiosity value? Well, maybe. As bad as you think this movie may be, it’s even worse.
Seriously, to say this film is a piece of crap is to do a disservice to crap.
The Lonely Lady tells the story of Jerilee Randall (Pia Zadora, who also played the girl martian in the classic Santa Claus Conquers the Martian), an aspiring writer who learns about the dark side of Hollywood. The movie opens with Jerilee graduating from Valley High School and receiving a special prize for being the school’s most promising English major. Now, from the very beginning, we run into several issues. Number one, Pia looks way too old to be in high school and the fact that they decided to put her hair in pig tails doesn’t change the fact. Number two, Pia Zadora is even less convincing as a writer than she was as a girl martian.
At the graduation party, Joe (played by Ray Liotta, of all people) violates Jerilee with a garden hose, in an amazingly ugly scene that pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the film. No longer an innocent optimist, Jerilee moves out to Hollywood where she ends up married to award-winning screenwriter Walter Thornton (Lloyd Bochner). When she secretly helps Walter rewrite his latest script (she replaces a long monologue with two lines of dialogue: “Why!? Why!?”), Walter grows jealous and starts to taunt her by holding up a garden hose. Jerilee and Walter divorce and Jerilee ends up sleeping with everyone else in Hollywood in an attempt to get a screenplay of her own produced. Eventually, this leads to Jerilee having a nervous breakdown in which the keys of her typewriter are replaced with the accusatory faces of everyone in her life…
Bleh! You know what? Describing this plot is probably making The Lonely Lady sound a lot more interesting than it actually is. Imagine if Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls was meant to be taken seriously and you have a pretty good idea what The Lonely Lady is like.
Furthermore, I’ve seen a lot of films that claim to be about writers. Occasionally, we get lucky and the writer is played be an actor who you could actually imagine writing something worth reading. (Perhaps the best recent example would be Paul Dano, who was completely believable as a critically acclaimed writer in Ruby Sparks.) However, most of the time, we end up with actors who you can hardly imagine having the either the discipline or the intellectual ability to write anything worth reading. And then, in the case of The Lonely Lady, we get Pia Zadora who is not only unbelievable as a writer but also as a human being as well. Watching her performance, you’re shocked that she can remember to breathe from minute to minute, much less actually write anything longer than her first name.
I know it’s a pretty big claim to say that one movie is the worst ever made. So, feel free to watch The Lonely Lady and then let me know if you agree.
(Be warned — this movie is NSFW and generally sucks.)