New York City, 23 February 1938 (some sources say 1939).
Attended Fordham University.
Served in the United States Army.
Began directing short, independent films, early 1960s; began working with
Andy Warhol, 1965; left Warhol, and struck out on his own, mid-1970s.
26 East 81st Street, New York, NY 10028 U.S.A.
Films as Director:
Taylor Mead Dances (short)
Civilization and Its Discontents
Lonesome Cowboys ( Andy Warhol's Lonesome Cowboys , Horse , Ramona and Julian ) (Warhol) (uncredited, + pr, ph,ed); Flesh ( Andy Warhol's Flesh ) (+ sc, ph)
Trash (+ sc, ph, ed)
Women in Revolt ( Andy Warhol's Women ) (+ sc, ed)
L'Amour (co-d, + co-sc, pr); Heat ( Andy Warhol's Heat )(+ co-sc, ph)
Flesh for Frankenstein ( Andy Warhol's Frankenstein ) (co-d,+ co-sc); Blood for Dracula ( Andy Warhol's Dracula )(co-d, + co-sc)
The Hound of the Baskervilles (+ co-sc)
Madame Wang's (+ sc)
Mixed Blood (+ co-sc); Le Neveu de Beethoven ( Beethoven's Nephew ) (+ co-sc)
Spike of Bensonhurst (+ co-sc)
My Hustler (Warhol) (production asst); Space (Warhol) (production asst)
Chelsea Girls (Warhol) (production asst); More Milk Evette ( Lana Turner and More Milk Evette ) (Warhol) (production asst); The Velvet Underground and Nico (Warhol) (doc) (ph)
Nude Restaurant (Warhol) (pr); Bike Boy (Warhol) (ph) Superartist (Drago) (short) (doc) (ro as himself, + sound)
The Loves of Ondine (Warhol) (exec pr) Andy Makes a Movie (Smith) (doc) (short) (ro as himself)
Midnight Cowboy (Schlesinger) (ro as Party Guest); Blue Movie ( Fuck ) (Warhol) (exec pr)
Rich and Famous (Cukor) (ro as Malibu Party Guest)
Chambre 66 (Wenders—for TV) (doc) (short) (ro as himself)
Resident Alien ( Quentin Crisp in America ) (Nossiter) (doc)(ro as himself)
Jonas in the Desert (Sempel) (doc) (ro as himself)
Nico Icon (Ofteringer) (doc) (ro as himself)
Divine Trash (Yeager) (doc) (ro as himself)
By MORRISSEY: articles—
"You Name It, I'll Eat It," interview with G. Ford, in Cinema (Beverly Hills), no. 1, 1973.
" Heat ," interview with A. De Jong and A. Haakman, in Skoop (The Hague), June 1973.
"Morrissey—From Flesh to Trash to Blood for Dracula ," interview with M. S. Davis, in New York Times , 15 July 1973.
"Paul Morrissey Seminar," interview in Dialogue on Film (Washington, D.C.), November 1974.
"Conversation with Paul Morrissey," interview with Jonathan Rosenbaum, in Oui (Chicago), March 1975.
"The Movies of Paul Morrissey," interview with B. Berg, in The Thousand Eyes Magazine (New York), March/April 1976.
Morrissey, Paul, "Big Hit in Hollywood: Pat Ast," in Interview (New York), October 1978.
"Bianca," interview with Andy Warhol and others, in Interview (New York), December 1978.
Interview with John Kobal, in Films and Filming (London), June 1986.
"Paul Morrissey," interview with G. L'Ecuyer, in Interview (New York), December 1986.
"Factory Days," interview with K. Sessums, in Interview (New York), February 1989.
On MORRISSEY: book—
Yacowar, Maurice, The Films of Paul Morrissey , New York and Cambridge, England, 1993.
On MORRISSEY: articles—
"Warhol, Morrissey in Rome; To Film Old Gag Re: Homo on the Range," in Variety (New York), 21 March 1973.
Karkosch, K., "Paul Morrissey," interview in Film and Ton Magazine (Munich), April 1973.
Bruno, E., "La persistenza dell'oggetto (note su alcuni film di Warhol e di Morrissey)," in Filmcritica (Rome), October/December 1973.
"A Warhol Pix Vet, Morrissey Shifts to Horror Films," in Variety (New York), 27 February 1974
Michener, C., "Put-on Artist," in Newsweek (New York), 23 September 1974.
"Flash for Frankenstein," in Film (Woking, Surrey, England), April 1975.
Dolce, J., "Cameos: Paul Morrissey," in Premiere (New York), July 1988.
Stein, E., "Flesh and Fantasy," in Village Voice (New York), 2 January 1996.
* * *
Paul Morrissey started out as one of the countless faces and personalities populating Andy Warhol's famed Factory in the 1960s. He harbored cinematic aspirations, and worked in various capacities on a number of Warhol's films; because of the often haphazard manner in which they were shot, Morrissey's exact role in their production is the subject of debate. In 1968, Warhol nearly was killed after being shot by Valerie Solanis and summarily removed himself from first-hand involvement in his film production. At that point, Morrissey was able to take control and have a more clearly defined, hands-on role in directing the "Warhol" films—and exploiting the Warhol name.
The pre-Morrissey Warhol's films may be far removed from the mainstream; nonetheless, Warhol attempted to commercialize his projects, but did so on his own terms. There is an art and integrity to these films. Morrissey, meanwhile, was more of a packager than an artist. He wanted to concoct a formula that would make the films more mainstream. That formula consisted of imbuing them with a more orthodox cinematic structure, creating more conventional plot lines, and capitalizing on the Warhol name by slapping it on the finished product. Morrissey's best films of the period may be absurdist classics and impertinent freak-show fun, but they are not art.
His outstanding directorial efforts all have monosyllabic titles: Flesh , Trash , and Heat. Superficially at least, they are in the outrageous Warhol tradition, and are populated by flagrantly campy, Warholian characters who wallow in divine degradation: transvestites, exhibitionists, drug addicts, go-go dancers, faded screen performers, lesbians, and gays. The prevailing attitude is represented by the name of a subsidiary character in Heat : "Aunt Harold." Their characters—many of whom for all intents and purposes appear on screen as themselves—exist in self-contained and self-created worlds. And while their scenarios are scripted, Flesh , Trash , and Heat do serve as authentic, slice-of-life portraits that capture a time and place.
All three feature the Warhol hunk-icon Joe Dallesandro. In Flesh , he stars as a male prostitute who toils to support his lesbian wife and their son. Trash charts the plight of a hard-bitten and resourceful transvestite named Holly, played by Holly Woodlawn; Dallesandro appears as Holly's lethargic, drug-addicted roommate-lover. Heat is Morrissey's masterpiece, a clever reworking/updating of Sunset Boulevard with Sylvia Miles and Dallesandro in the Gloria Swanson and William Holden roles. Even though it also is known as Andy Warhol's Heat , the film is without doubt a Paul Morrissey creation. In both style and substance, all three films are forerunners of the sexually frank independent productions (and, specifically, the New Queer Cinema) that emerged in the 1980s and 1990s.
With the exception of Mixed Blood , a darkly comic crime story that has garnered a bit of a cult reputation, all of Morrissey's work since Flesh , Trash , and Heat has been disappointing: insignificant at best, and downright dreadful at worst. Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula (otherwise known as Andy Warhol's Frankenstein and Andy Warhol's Dracula ) are odd, boring exercises in camp. Forty Deuce , a sordid story of teen hustlers and heroin, is of note only for the appearance of a young Kevin Bacon. The Hound of the Baskervilles , made in England and featuring a top cast (Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Denholm Elliott, Joan Greenwood, Jessie Matthews, Spike Milligan, Roy Kinnear), is an appalling Conan Doyle spoof. Le Neveu de Beethoven is a disappointing biopic. Spike of Bensonhurst , Morrissey's most mainstream film, is a sometimes-amusing but ultimately forgettable comedy about a young wannabe pugilist from Brooklyn whose life becomes complicated when he connects with the daughter of a mobster.