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John Waters movies: 12 greatest films, ranked worst to best, include ‘Hairspray,’ ‘Pink Flamingos,’ ‘Cry-Baby’

John Waters movies: 12 greatest films, ranked worst to best, include ‘Hairspray,’ ‘Pink Flamingos,’ ‘Cry-Baby’

Baltimore native John Waters is filmdom’s pencil-mustached titan of trash who has spent a lifetime of dumpster-diving into a vat of bad taste, sleaze, kinky gross-outs, over-the-top camp, maudlin melodramatics, sick jokes, taboo sexuality, vulgarity and bizarre personalities. At least he has a fabulous sense of humor. The director, who turns 72 on April 22, is a New York University film school dropout who instead became a scholar of transgressive, envelope-shredding cinema, influenced by the directorial likes of Herschell Gordon Lewis, Federico Fellini, William Castle, Douglas Sirk and Ingmar Bergman. Early on, Waters assembled a stock company of players from suburban Baltimore who he called the Dreamlanders, including Mink Stole and Edith Massey.

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But Waters would find his true muse and favorite leading lady in his childhood friend, Glenn Milstead, a drag queen whose alter-ego was known as Divine.

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