Turkeys for Thanksgiving brings reel stinkers to BAM

Revisit some of history’s most legendary monetary flops on the big screen.

We live in a box office obsessed cinematic culture, where a movie’s worth is too often determined less by its artistic quality than its financial achievements.

BAM’s Turkeys for Thanksgiving series, which begins Friday and runs through Nov. 29, operates under the indisputable principle that there is not a direct correlation between a movie’s box office performance and whether it is actually worth watching.

This is a chance to revisit and reconsider, or discover for the first time, some of history’s most legendary monetary flops on the big screen. It’s never too late for some rehabilitation. Offerings include:


Synonymous with disaster ever since its much ballyhooed wipeout in 1987, Elaine May’s film about lounge singers (Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman) getting swept up in Moroccan espionage has earned significant critical reappraisals in the intervening years.


Robert Altman’s deeply strange live action take on the iconic E.C. Segar character features Robin Williams’ first notable film performance and a lot of quirky charm in musical numbers like “He’s Large,” as sung by Shelley Duvall’s Olive Oyl, and Bluto’s “I’m Mean.”


OK, the most high-profile NC-17 movie ever made really is that bad. But it’s also endlessly entertaining — a hilariously overwrought and terribly acted depiction of the Las Vegas life of a showgirl, as seen through screenwriter Joe Eszterhas’ sleazy perspective.

‘Heaven’s Gate’

Michael Cimino was a rising cinematic star, the maker of “The Deer Hunter,” when this infamous nearly four hour Western sunk United Artists and all-but-ended his career. Kris Kristofferson, Isabelle Huppert and Christopher Walken star in the film, loosely inspired by the Johnson County War. Many have come to regard the film as a misunderstood masterpiece, while others hold fast to the original assessment.


David Lynch, master of the avant-garde, finally figured out how to crack Frank Herbert’s iconic and complicated sci-fi novel after years of failed efforts. Audiences in 1984 were more interested in “Beverly Hills Cop.”


Want to know what a Steven Spielberg disaster looks like? Here ya go.

If you go: Turkeys for Thanksgiving is at BAM from Nov. 20-29. Showtimes vary. 30 Lafayette Ave., Fort Greene, Brooklyn, bam.org

Robert Levin