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Film / The Lonely Lady

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Infamous 1983 Pia Zadora vehicle, based on a novel by Harold Robbins. It has appeared on many lists of the "Worst Movies Ever" since its release and was a huge Golden Raspberry Award winner.

Zadora is Jerilee Randall, a high school graduate hoping to become a screenwriter. In Lonely Lady-land, this career path mainly involves literally whoring yourself to everyone in Hollywood. Sleazy sexcapades ensue and Jerilee responds with to each with a vacant stare. No, it is actually not intended as just straight porn. Probably.

Ray Liotta's film debut, although he probably hopes no one remembers.

Has nothing to do with The Lonely Guy.

You can find out more here.


This film provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Induced Plothole: The entire film falls victim to this. The three screenwriters tried to compress a 500-page novel into an 88-minute feature, resulting in subplots that go nowhere, nonsensical actions by the main characters, and weird composites of the book's antagonists and protagonists that results in almost every supporting character having a degree of schizophrenia that might explain their often contradictory actions.
  • Advertised Extra: There's a character named Carla Maria Peroni (Carla Romanelli), who gets to appear in the poster of the film alongside Jerilee and the other main characters. She ends up only appearing in one scene as a Lipstick Lesbian who hits on Jerilee (and it's implied that she sleeps with) before never showing up again.
  • Alliterative Title: The Lonely Lady.
  • All Men Are Perverts:
    • The Lonely Lady was a Lifetime Movie of the Week before Lifetime. Also, some lesbians are thrown in just so men and women can treat Jerilee like a sex doll.
    • Averted with Guy Jackson, who is practically the only male character who treats Jerilee with something resembling respect and doesn't try to get into her pants.
  • Artistic License – Film Production: So, so much. Perhaps most egregiously the movie equates becoming a successful screenwriter with achieving A-List level Hollywood fame. While this isn't entirely unheard of (Diablo Cody's early career and short-lived fame in real life was surprisingly similar to Jerilee's in the movie), in reality screenwriters are treated notoriously badly compared not only to actors, directors and producers, but even "second-tier" roles such as cinematographers, editors and composers.
  • Big "WHY?!": Which, for some reason, is considered absolutely brilliant dialogue, and so good that it makes Walter insanely jealous of Jerilee and results in their divorce.
  • Black Comedy: One character charmingly compares Jerilee's new script to her aborted child.
  • Brainless Beauty: Jerilee (who apparently has to learn the same lesson over and over and over again) and the bimbo girlfriend of Walter's agent.
  • Brand X: The movie is bookended by scenes of Jerilee at "The Awards Presentation Ceremony," which also features a generic awards statuette not at all like an Oscar.
  • Break the Cutie/Corrupt the Cutie: The whole premise of the movie. Subverted in the end, however, as Jerilee gets over her Sanity Slippage, and at the "Awards Presentation Ceremony" she gives everyone present a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, swears off ever working in Hollywood again, and storms out.
  • Broken Bird: (Very poorly) played straight throughout the movie with Jerilee's "misadventures." She does ultimately recover from her breakdown, but is clearly left bitter and jaded about the profession of screenwriting, and Hollywood in general.
  • Camp Gay:
    • The rather flamboyant and effeminate hairdresser that befriends Jerilee during the filming of Walter's latest film.
    • Surprisingly averted with Jerilee's gay best friend, director Guy Jackson, who for the most part behaves quite masculinely.
  • Crapsack World: Okay, Hollywood is well-known to be not the greatest work environment in the world, but even so this film's depiction of it as being full of sexually exploitative (if not outright abusive) jerkasses comes cross as way over the top.
  • Dull Surprise: Plenty, particularly from Pia Zadora. In her case, it's perhaps most blatant when Walter not only brings up her rape — almost certainly the most traumatic experience of her life until that point — but actually accuses her of enjoying it, and she barely even reacts.
  • Fanservice: We're apparently meant to be turned on by seeing the heroine get sexually used and abused for the whole movie. And the movie clearly, albeit narmtastically, portrays her being emotionally scarred by this.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Jerilee has these before she loses her innocence.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted. Jerilee does have an abortion, but nobody shames her for it and it's only brought up once afterwards.
  • Gratuitous Rape: With Ray Liotta in powder blue underpants and (of all things) a garden hose. What makes it even more bizarrely offensive is that aside from Walter angrily accusing her of enjoying it during an argument much later on, it has virtually no relevance to the rest of the story.
  • Heroic BSoD: Twice for Jerilee: the first after the garden hose incident, the second after she finds out Vinnie was just using her and has a nervous breakdown. The latter is preceded by one of the most unintentionally hilarious freak-outs ever caught on film.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Jerilee sleeps with a guy without noticing he's an obvious sleazeball. Then he dramatically backstabs her and she falls into the arms of another obvious sleazeball. The cycle continues for the whole movie.
  • How We Got Here: Done in a rather confusing way; the film opens with footage of Jerilee arriving at the "Awards Presentation Ceremony", which is actually set near the end of the film chronologically. However, the film immediately cuts to an entirely different awards ceremony, which along with the vague name being used for their Oscars stand-in can leave first-time viewers confused as to which ceremony the arrival footage is from.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: The 6'3" actor who played George Ballantine practically had to get on his elbows to kiss the 5'0" Pia Zadora.
  • The Ingenue: Jerilee takes this trope all the way to Who Would Be Stupid Enough? levels. It takes a full-on nervous breakdown to inject any level of reality into the way she sees the world.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The full on-screen title is "Harold Robbins' The Lonely Lady". Ah, the giants.
  • Informed Ability: Unsurprisingly, Jerilee's writing ability — after all, this movie was the best the real screenwriters could come up with. We're never told a single thing about any of Jerilee's work except for some vague praise for her short stories and the title of her final filmed screenplay ("The Holdouts.")
  • May–December Romance: The barely out of high school Jerilee and the 50-something Walter. Truth in Television as Ms. Zadora's husband at the time was 33 years her senior.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: As a film about a multi-award-winning neophyte screenwriter, this trope naturally applies. It's also evident in the messages later on in the film that writers should be free to go about their job without having to worry about Executive Meddling.invoked
  • Never My Fault: After being told that her daughter has suffered a full-on nervous breakdown, the first reaction of Jerilee's mother is to say that there's no history of mental illness on her side of the family, so it must be something she picked up from her father.
  • One Steve Limit:
    • Most bizarre aversion ever. During "The Awards" at the end of the film, one of the other best screenplay nominees also has the oh-so-common name of Jerilee. For no apparent reason. It's never commented on or joked about. The other Jerilee is just a random background character with no role in the plot.
    • There are two characters named George, though they have nothing to do with each other and have no scenes together. Would it have been that hard to rename one of the Georges?
  • Precision F-Strike: "I don't suppose I'm the only one who's had to fuck her way to the top." Which Jerilee says right in the middle of being awarded (and refusing) her not-Oscar.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: The film portrays Walter's behavior after Jerilee alters one of his screenplays as an absurd overreaction (rather accurately), but when others suggest alterations to Jerilee's own screenplays later in the film, the film's message suddenly becomes that a writer's words are sacrosanct and should never, ever be altered by outsiders.
  • Shower of Angst: Jerilee takes a fully clothed shower at the start of her nervous breakdown, and doesn't change her clothes for the rest of the sequence.
  • Straight Gay: Guy Jackson is openly gay, but not at all stereotypical.
  • Writers Suck: Played with; the film (and original novel) is about a writer who gets famous. By getting screwed in many ways, including the literal one. However, it otherwise takes an entirely sympathetic view towards writers.


Example of: