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Before The Runaways, there was . . . Spice World. Movies have been honoring, exploiting, or completely botching the appeal of XX bands for years. Below, a guide to cinema’s (mostly fictional) all-femme ensembles from the past four decades.
Interracial psychedelic-soul trio the Kelly Affair change their name to the Carrie Nations at the insistence of new manager Ronnie “Z-Man” Barzell in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Supposedly modeled on Phil Spector, Z-Man bears an uncanny resemblance to lecherous Runaways’ manager Kim Fowley.
In the same year that Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” would reach No. 1 on the charts, barely adolescent Diane Lane and Laura Dern—two-thirds of the eponymous proto-riot-grrrl trio in Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains—inspire their band’s followers not to put out.
Four teen ladies—including Justine Bateman and Julia Roberts in her first major screen role—and a dude keyboard player form Jennie Lee and the Mystery and cover Eddie Cochran in Satisfaction.
All dressed up like a Union Jack, Sporty, Scary, Posh, Baby, and Ginger star in Spice World, their version of A Hard Day’s Night; “girl power” translates as the right to dress like a streetwalker.
Rachael Leigh Cook, Rosario Dawson, and Tara Reid don long tails and ears for hats in Josie and the Pussycats, the live-action adaptation of the Hanna-Barbera TV cartoon that ran from 1970 through ’72, whose neat, sweet, groovy theme song remains one of the small screen’s funkiest.
In late-’80s L.A., Clam Dandy leader Gina Gershon hopes her quartet can make it big before she turns 40 in Prey for Rock & Roll; the film’s same-sexing scenes give equal weight to talking through feelings and dildo action.
Speaking of lavender leanings, Cherie Currie acknowledges getting it on with both Joan Jett and drummer Sandy West in the documentary Edgeplay: A Film About the Runaways, directed by the group’s post–Jackie Fox bassist, Vicki Blue; Jett refused to appear in the film.
The big-screen adaptation of the 1981 Broadway smash loosely based on the Supremes finds Beyoncé Knowles, the Diana Ross analogue of Destiny’s Child, playing another Ross simulacrum in Dreamgirls. Sandy West dies of lung cancer.