Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My Canadian Tax-Shelter Princess: Lisa Langlois

North Bay, Ontario native Lisa Langlois sure was busy in the late '70s and early '80s. Being that these were the peak years of the Canadian tax-shelter film era, a movement responsible for the majority of teen-oriented slasher fare, there were plenty of opportunities for a young beauty pageant runner-up with some acting chops and bilingual abilities.

Langlois' big break would come from Claude Chabrol who cast her in back to back films: Les Liens de Sang (Blood Relatives) and Violette Noziere. When John Huston inexplicably slummed in Canadian tax shelter land--after the acclaimed Wise Blood--he cast Langlois in Phobia. The latter Huston film is not highly regarded, but we can thank the old lion, or dirty old man, for getting his young starlet out of her clothes for her bathtub death scene.

Following her work for Huston, Langlois appeared in a couple of cult favorites, first as one of the college-aged victims in Happy Birthday to Me, and then, in my personal favorite, Class of 1984. In the latter film, she was the pink-haired, heavily made up lieutenant of psychotic punk gang leader Timothy Van Patten. If Van Patten's Stegman was the film's General Zod then Langlois' Patsy was its Ursa. My younger brother and I stayed up way past our bedtime sometime in the mid-80s watching the film on the "Late Movie," or some other such program. We were mesmerized by this Blackboard Jungle update and I was smitten by the punk girl who mocked and brutalized wimpy music student Michael J. Fox (then billed as Michael Fox) and his hopelessly idealistic teacher Perry King. Maybe it's not a coincidence that my ex-wife had the remnants of a pink dye-job when I met her.  

Langlois moved to Hollywood after that and acted in a number of mediocre to terrible films. She's adorable in Bruce Malmuth's inane The Man Who Wasn't There as state department aide Steve Guttenberg's sidekick and love interest. This one involves a top-secret serum that causes temporary invisibility. One must tolerate a litany of unfunny gags and poor photography, not to mention a frequently naked and/or scantily clad Steve Guttenberg, and the idea that Langlois would ever be interested in the infinitely douchy Guttenberg.  However, the trade off is a game performance from Langlois, which includes a couple scenes in which she must act nude opposite an "invisible" Guttenberg.

The ineptitude of Malmuth's film was doubly disappointing since it was such a step back after his work on the fine Nighthawks, and because it did not lead to better opportunities for Langlois. Somehow, Guttenberg came out smelling like a rose and went on to hit box-office jackpot in the Police Academy and Cocoon films. Langlois appeared in a couple of poor films from good directors, Martha Coolidge's Joy of Sex and Hal Ashby's The Slugger's Wife. After that, her credit list is dotted with television guest spots and roles in direct-to-video projects. Langlois took a couple years off in the early part of this decade, presumably to take an active role in her young son's life. In the last few years, however, she's been busy and has recently appeared again in a more high-profile project, The L-Word (in a recurring role), which hopefully portends more of the same.  

Oh, and she's no longer married...

I'd think she could do better than Charlie Martin Smith

...and these two clowns.


Unknown said...

Fascinating! I had no idea about her and all the cool films she's been in -- many of which I've seen.

Man, I haven't watch CLASS OF 1984 in ages! I wonder how it holds up? And the less said about THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE the better. *shudder* The only decent thing Guttenberg ever did was as part of the ensemble cast of HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS where he played, wow, another douchy character.

Ned Merrill said...

Most of her films are unavailable these days, which probably contributes to the dearth of Langlois material online.

CLASS OF 1984 holds up pretty well, I think. It's certainly not great, but the current Anchor Bay package is very nice. Maybe, in 3-D, MAN WHO WASN'T THERE is halfway decent--nah! Didn't see HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, but cable has a way of punishing viewers with unceasing reruns of DON'T TELL HER IT'S ME with Douchenberg and Jami Gertz and Shelley Long.

Keith said...

Wow. Great post and pictures. I never really knew anything about her. Thanks for doing this. I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

junecast said...

awesome article man.
you continually turn me on to sweet stuff.

larrywatanabe said...

She's an awesome girl! She was in my calculus class and we used to chat and stuff.

Ned Merrill said...


You're a lucky fellow. I loathe any kind of math class, but I would sign up for calculus in a second, if it meant sitting next to Ms. Langlois.

gina said...

Lisa, good to see you doing well in L.A. Real proud of you! You have done great since our acting, modelling and dance shows from back in the 70's in Hamilton and Toronto, Ontario.
Take care, Gina Mete