USA, 2010, 87 min
“You could tell a lie long enough that you believe it,” suggests Joyce McKinney, the fabulously eccentric subject of Errol Morris’s new documentary covering tabloid journalism, bondage, Mormonism and love. A former Miss Wyoming who boasts an IQ of 168, McKinney became infamous in the UK in 1976 as the mastermind of the “Manacled Mormon Kidnapping” after she became a tabloid sensation for abducting a former lover who had abandoned her for the Mormon Church, holding him hostage in a cottage in Devon for several days, where she chained him to a bed (with mink-trimmed handcuffs) in order to erase all elements of “Mormon brainwashing” from his mind. “I would have skied down Mt. Everest nude with a carnation in my nose for him,” noted the ever-quotable McKinney during her trial, which became one of England’s biggest media stories of the 1970s thanks to its combination of kinky sex and a buxom all-American girl gone wild. Now living relatively anonymously, McKinney “reveals all” to Morris’s camera as do various British tabloid hacks still busy putting their own spin on the tale. A welcome return to the eccentric Americana of Gates of Heaven (1980) and Vernon, Florida (1982), Tabloid never uncovers what is the truth and what is a lie—Morris writes that even he doesn’t know. “And that’s what I like about it.”
Special support for this program generously provided by Celeste and Anthony Meier.