Friday, October 8, 2010

THE SHAME OF PATTY SMITH (1962) - a ballad of abortion and death, in that order

Have you ever had the Patti Smith/Patty Smyth confusion conversation? You know, your buddy asks you what you've been listening to lately, and you mention you've been digging on some Smyth:

"Oh yeah!", he says. "She's great.
Horses. Rock and Roll N-word. Great stuff."

"Nigger. The word is nigger."

"Yeah, I know. Ya hafta say it out loud? In

"Yeah...but...that's not the name of the song."

"So? Who gives a shit? Well, anyway, I picked up the new Toto disc..."

"No, you got it all wrong."

"What? Got what wrong?"

"It's not her. It's Patty Smyth."

"Yeah, I know. That's what I said...
Horses. Also, it's pronounced 'Smith', you asshole. Who the fuck mispronounces 'Smith'?!?"

"We are no longer friends."

While I could pontificate at length about Patti Smith, I think the other Patty is in more need of attention at this point in her "career". As it happens, Patty Smyth recorded two albums with her band Scandal (self titled and The Warrior) before running off for a solo career. It's pretty fucking unfortunate really. Scandal could have been the biggest and best band of the late 80's, but some retard manager had to go and tell Patty that "the band was holding her down". She recorded a solid first solo album (including a Tom Waits cover, no less), but the writing was on the wall with her self titled second album, which included a duet with Don Henley (Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough).

It was a chart topper, yes, but karmically spelled her doom. After all, just like The Dude, god himself hates the fucking Eagles, and a duet with Don Henley is most certainly a one way ticket to musical purgatory.


Maybe the purest example of the "abort-sploitation" genre is The Shame of Patty Smith, a little known entry from 1962 (perhaps only surpassed by 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days). The true center and heart of the film is Dani Lynn as Patty, in a completely believable and heartbreaking performance. She conveys every sliver of inner torture along this horrific journey. Here is yet another Patty Smith, who is even more deserving of attention than the other two (and unconditional love, for that matter). She's a lovely young girl, a true innocent, who only wishes to feel the beat of another's heart. She goes on a date with a boy and, lo and behold, they run afoul of some greaser gang, through no fault of their own. Instead of beating up the boyfriend that somehow offended them, they decide that the best way to extract revenge from being slightly annoyed with this guy is to gang rape his new girlfriend. Talk about the lowest of the fucking low. Her heart will forever have a wall around it, it would seem.

Of course, she gets pregnant, but at least she can go get an abortion. Oh wait...abortion is illegal. I guess Patty's hands are tied and her prospects grim. Where are Roe and Wade when you need them?

Patty does manage to find a real doctor willing to perform the abortion, but he's gonna charge extra. She doesn't have the money, but hopefully she can work overtime and...oh wait, she gets fired from her job. What in the fuck. So, she has to scrounge and beg for cash, even going to the local church and asking for a loan.

Of course, the priest wants to know why she needs the money, and Patty hems and haws, clutching her crucifix, nearly in tears. He finally gets the truth out of her, and gives her a big speech of how abortion is murder, even if you're a rape victim. Instead of sympathy and understanding, she gets tough love via the big honcho in the sky.

So, she has to go the underground abortion route through a shady series of encounters, and the shame steadily continues to mount. To circumvent some retarded law, Patty has to travel from middle man to middle man to finally get to an abortion doctor, a recently unemployed pharmacist. She goes through with it, but falls gravely ill. While the law goes into action, Patty's one true friend Mary, the one person who has supported her throughout this ordeal, visits her bedside as she struggles to hang on.

Mary has a warm talk with her, and Patty ends the conversation with "everything's gonna be all right". By the cruelest irony imaginable, she almost immediately passes away. Thanks to a savage gang of monsters and a society that passes cruel laws based on superstition, Patty Smith, a young girl hoping for love and a better future ahead, lies cold and stiff in a hospital bed. Goodnight and goodbye, my dear.


  1. Well done. That was a delightfully entertaining blend of elements. Very clever.

  2. @John
    Tanx! I jumble up my Patty's, it is true.