Apart from offering what is likely the best stretch of the late, great Charles Ludlam (of New York’s Ridiculous Theater) on film, Mark Rappaport’s dense and fascinating 1980 independent feature—a tragicomic melodrama designed to stick in the throat (and brain)—surely qualifies as one of the wildest and wittiest American movies of its decade. The structure is basically confrontational: gay and/or straight couples, twins and/or lovers, crooks and/or romantic heroes, doppelgangers all, try to ridicule one another out of existence, with enough deadpan bitchy dialogue to choke a horse, and a plot derived equally from The Maltese Falcon and Proust’s Albertine disparue. Rappaport’s ingenious low-budget strategies for suggesting big-budget opulence are particularly disturbing and suggestive. Magic, stolen jewels, jealousy, paranoia, and torture parade through this hysterically convoluted, elegantly mounted tale of wisecracks and woe like a Hollywood funeral procession for American romanticism: the results are nightmarish, hilarious, and indelible. With Michael Berg and Ellen McElduff.