Academy Award-winner Errol Morris' TABLOID follows the much stranger-than-fiction adventures of Joyce McKinney, a former "beauty queen" whose single-minded devotion to the man of her dreams leads her across the globe and directly onto the front pages of the British tabloid newspapers. Joyce's crusade for love and personal vindication, as illustrated by Morris, takes her through a surreal world of gunpoint abduction, manacled Mormons, oddball accomplices, bondage modelling, magic underwear and dreams of celestial unions. This notorious affair is barking mad.
Joyce McKinney, Peter Tory, Troy Williams, Jackson Shaw, Kent Gavin, Dr. Hong
Bizarre, quite bizarre. This documentary film gives the history of 1977's "Manacled Mormon" case headlined in the tabloids, and still remembered today. The story goes something like this... Young woman (Joyce McKinney) becomes infatuated with young man (Kirk Anderson). Nothing unusual about that, you may think. But Kirk is a Mormon (and 17 stone in weight, to boot) and was sent to England on missionary service, as many young Mormon men are - and this is where the fun begins. Joyce follows him to England where, with the help of one Keith May, she kidnaps poor old Kirk at gunpoint, chloroforms him, and takes him to a cottage in Devon, where she burns his "secret underwear", handcuffs him to the bed, and - poor chap - has her wicked way with him.
She was later arrested and remanded to Holloway Prison for 3 months before her trial on kidnapping charges. During the trial McKinney and May skipped bail and fled to Canada, apparently is disguise. Given the lurid nature of the allegations it was inevitable that the case hit the headlines in the tabloids. Key among these were the Daily Express (which fell for McKinney's version of events and her tales of an innocent young love thwarted by a brainwashing cult) and the Daily Mirror (which sent a team to the US and uncovered allegations that the lovely Miss McKinney was a nude model and part-time prostitute). Cue yet more lurid headlines.
Among the interviews in the film, yet more bizarre details emerge, including how in later years McKinney had her dead pit bull Booger (what?!?) cloned in Korea at a cost of $50,000 and now lives alone with five Booger-clones - but is shunned by her neighbours :)
I didn't particularly like the style of the film (particularly the rather silly animations) but it's well worth 4/5 stars if only for the seriously bizarre - yet true - story.
[Aside: a search on Wikipedia for "mormon sex in chains case" will give a few more details...]
Documentary director Errol Morris here presents the story of Joyce McKinney, a once Miss Wyoming Beauty Queen, who was charged in 1977 with the abduction and rape of a Mormon missionary.
McKinney allegedly left the United Kingdom shortly after the tabloid press revealed her involvement in the “Case of the Manacled Mormon” and fled to Canada where she joined a mime troupe. What? I hear you cry, as if things weren’t bizarre enough already, we’re only just getting started. During the next twenty years McKinney is in and out of the press lime light, firstly when a Korean scientist supposedly clones her favourite pet dog and later when she is arrested on burglary charges after attempting to garner funds to purchase a false leg for her horse.
This ridiculous story of a strangely captivating woman is told with such straight-faced boldness that you almost find yourself believing her when she exclaims her innocence. Yet Morris also populates the movie with interviews with outsiders and law enforcement officers who throw a constantly shifting shadow of doubt across almost everything McKinney has to say.
Which is a lot, McKinney has an answer for everything yet she remains composed and articulate, adding further confusion to the bizarre nature of the stories she has been involved in.
If nothing else Tabloid is a fantastic example of how to age gracefully whilst continuing to party like a drunk college student. Obviously I am not suggesting that McKinney, now in her sixties, is such a person but simply that the stories surrounding her life over the past few decades is almost unbelievably comic and surreal; yet Morris plays it all out in a totally no nonsense fashion as a man who has gathered the facts about a woman who fascinates him and is offering them to us to decipher. Even by the end of the movie however, we remain just as lost as he is, partly because we too have become enchanted by the strangely elusive McKinney.
You rated this film: 5
Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso
Videos exempt from classification by the British Board of Film Classification