The Lonely Lady (1983) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The early 80's .. who can forget the era of Zadoramania?

Pia Zadora was chosen as the "worst actress of the eighties" by the Razzie voters, and that was an amazing accomplishment because she did not achieve that dishonor through a spate of consistently awful performances throughout the decade, nor did she achieve it with an eleventh hour 1989 stinker that was still fresh in the voters' memories. She did it all with two performances from early in the decade, her jailbait/incest performance in Butterfly, and her incredible "I fucked my way to the top" speech in The Lonely Lady. That speech, this performance, and this movie were all so bad that even her seven years in hiding were not sufficient time for the voters to forget her by the end of the decade.

The Lonely Lady was nominated for eleven Razzies in 1983. That represented 110% of the highest possible number, because they only had ten categories. It won six Razzies, a record at the time, including all the important ones: worst film, worst director, and worst screenplay. Two decades later it was still regarded highly (lowly) enough to be entered into the elite group nominated as the Razzie's "worst drama of our first 25 years." Battlefield Earth was the winner, and the other nominees were Mommie Dearest, Showgirls, and Swept Away. Impressive company, indeed.

Lonely Lady begins outside "The Generic Awards Ceremony." You can tell it's not the Oscars because (1) they didn't call it that (2) it takes place in a high school auditorium covered by paper signs. Maybe it's the Grammys. Nah. Too classy. Pia Zadora has been nominated for the Generic Award for the best screenplay, and the atmosphere around the ceremony reminds her of her first award ceremony, so many years ago, back in high school, when she received an elaborate statuette as the "outstanding English student," and made her first acceptance speech. Do you sense a flashback beginning? In her pigtails and gingham dress, Pia proceeded to ramble on and on about presenting important ideas in an honest way until a teacher, who was obviously as bored and embarrassed for her as I was, interrupted her speech and humiliated her. This was the first in a string of humiliations which would fill her life, and spur her on to the Best Generic Screenplay award.

The next major humiliation came on the same night, during the big senior bash, when fellow student Ray Liotta raped her with a garden hose. ("I'm gonna give you something special!") Just going to high school with Ray Liotta was a big mistake to begin with. Where did they go? Norman Bates Academy? But ending up the evening alone with Ray Liotta? Now there's a fatal mistake. You'd think she might have realized this after she showed Liotta her "outstanding English student" award, and he offered the witty riposte that "it looks like a penis!" Luckily for Zadora, Ray was interrupted in the hose-raping act by Mr. Famous Screenwriter, who nursed Zadora back to health and married her the next morning. Or maybe not. Anyway, he married her soon thereafter, but this marriage had a few problems. First, he was middle aged and impotent. (Hey, it's a Harold Robbins story.) I guess they might have worked through that, except that the sex was the best thing about their relationship. Second, she kept re-writing his scripts without asking his permission. Third, he kept using her re-writes without crediting her. Fourth, he kept threatening to rape her with a garden hose, as kind of a nostalgic trip back to the night they met. ("Or is this is more your kick?!")

I just realized that every line in this movie needs to be punctuated with an exclamation point.

Zadora figured if she could improve the scripts of Famous Screenwriter, then she could probably make it on her own, so she wrote a screenplay and set off to make it in Hollywood. Of course, everyone she presented her script to agreed to give it very serious consideration as soon as Zadora finished sucking his dick or eating her pussy, but after the oral sex there was always the ol' brush-off, except for occasional post-fellatio cuddles with garden hoses, and then later with fire hoses. Once it got around that she was into hoses, then the guys with the big nozzles started to show. You'd think Zadora would have figured out this scam after falling for it a couple of times, particularly when her prospective mentors would show up for a script meeting in a fire truck, but the film's running time would then have been less than feature length. In fact, if she had figured it out soon enough, the running time would have been less than the length of a Nike commercial.

She does love one man after Mr. Famous Impotent Screenwriter, but he's Mr. Gay Director, so she seems to be batting zero in the ol' romance department. Finally, Zadora goes insane (pictured subtly below left), and in her feverish, insane dreams she sees all her exploiters spinning around her keyboard (pictured subtly below right).

She cleverly deduces from the "people in her life spinning around on a keyboard" metaphor that her subconscious mind is telling her to write her own story, so she does, the very story which we are now watching, and that leads her back to the Generic Awards Show seen in the opening scene. Yeah, as if the very script we are now watching could be nominated for a Generic Award.

Let's cut to the chase. Despite the fact that the film she has written is this very film, one of the worst screenplays of all time, she wins the Generic Award for Best Screenplay. This allows us to see and hear some things which we aren't likely to experience in reality.

  • The first is Pia Zadora holding a Generic Award (right).
  • The second is her memorable acceptance speech, in which she declaims, "I don't suppose I'm the only one who's had to fuck her way to the top," then sets down her award and walks out of the auditorium alone, into the anonymity of the night, while the crowd jeers, the credits roll, and the singer sings the haunting "Lonely Lady Ballad."
  This film is not available on DVD, The link to the left leads to a VHS tape.



  • Pia Zadora - breasts in a half dozen scenes,  buns in a dark shower scene, a possible flash of pubes in the "pool ball shot at her crotch" scene.

  • Carla Romanelli - brief breasts

  • Joseph Cali - buns in two scenes.

  • Glory Annen - brief breast in a dark scene in a car at night

  • Two unknown women - topless in an orgy scene with Joseph Cali.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Super-panel consensus out of four stars: less than one star. Roger Ebert 1.5/4, TV Guide 0/5

The People Vote ...


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's an E. It is a very bad movie. On the other hand, there are very bad movies which are boring, and this one is not. It is so consistently and outlandishly bad that it can amuse you if you are a bad movie aficionado.

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