The Immoral Mr. Teas
A silent color film with music and narration by Edward J. Lakso on the plight of modern man struck with admiration for the dental assistant, the ice cream countergirl, and the secretary.
A model is otherwise engaged, a hooker’s like having your pants pressed, a stripper leaves you holding the dress.
One might sum it all up for the psychiatrist, who’s quite a looker.
A masterpiece of commonplace city views (street signs, bus stop ads), beach, lake and stream, nature.
Jacques Tati and Harold Lloyd are indicated, also Richter’s Dreams That Money Can Buy.
“Cultural analyses” are no doubt a great advancement in Queer Theory.
Eve and the Handyman
The Muse and her votary.
She trails him like a dick in her trenchcoat and red scarf and black beret, only to “get there first”.
He is the humble bespectacled fix-it fellow and broom jockey on his daily rounds.
The sequence of gags includes the “wet paint” number of Laurel and Hardy fame.
He is an unknown quantity to her, she studies him like something out of Herzog or Godard.
The seven minutes at the art school are worth the price of admission.
And the sublime punchline, again vying with Richter in a perfect match for The Immoral Mr. Teas.
Wild Gals of the Naked West
Meyer’s poetic realization of the Wild West as comic free-for-all turns on a mysterious do-gooder, the tale is told in retrospect by a grizzled old prospector in the present-day ghost town.
But a naked gal is the Wild West wherever she appears, completing the equation.
Europe in the Raw
The Grand Tour.
Strippers and hookers in the great cities, from France to Berlin and Rome, culminating in Paris.
There, the clandestine camera catches fire and burns, leaving no trace.
Somewhere between Stockton and Sacramento...
Locke, says the railroad sign.
The story is entrusted to James Griffith, “a two-time loser,” wrote Variety, “having overacted a trite part which he himself wrote.”
Of such nonsense are the trade papers made.
Lot’s wife, her husband’s at the salt mine all day and studying at night, an oblivious lover.
A convict escapes, she finds l’amour et la mort.
Sublimely beautiful cinematography, sterling dramatic performances, the comic discovery underlying it all.
Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure
A visit to London, somewhere between Locke, California and Publilius Syrus in the sticks. Frances is a country girl, an innocent in Maude Brown’s bawdyhouse, as virtuous as the day is long, “just not too bright.”
Bosley Crowther of the New York Times, “witless”.
Witless as Mozart, who engineered such another Entführung aus dem Serail.
TV Guide, “cheap and tasteless... watered-down... barren... slipshod... careless... poor... lame”.
Eighteenth-century illustrations tell the tale, a great work on the innate power of virtue and “a mouse in the haystack”, closely akin to Tony Richardson’s meditations on Fielding.
“Madam, I understand this young lady is under your protection.”
“You, er, you might call it that.”
Page-turning wipes connect the many scenes.
The great Miriam Hopkins leads the cast.
Castigation is the tribute vice renders English virtue. “If there’s one thing I pride myself on it’s that I’ve never permitted vulgarity in this house!”
The cream of the jest is cousin Hemingway, who has them coming and going at his ancestral seat.
A theme beloved of Stroheim (The Merry Widow) and Capra (The Bitter Tea of General Yen). The Royal Navy flies a false flag to squire the girl to safety. “My dear Mrs. Brown, I was always under the impression that you run a straightforward cash-and-carrying-on business, but if this sort of thing is going on I’m afraid you’re going to lose your licence for licence.”
Mudhoney ...Leaves a Taste of Evil!
A great masterpiece on the Great Depression, an idler and whoremaster and drunk spares the farm and waits to sell it as an inheritance.
To say this went unobserved is to say it’s a Russ Meyer film, even the most favorably disposed couldn’t decide if he was kidding or not.
Some say this, some say that, Meyer is thoroughgoing and comprehensive and perfectly serious when treating his themes, which are always vital.
The citation from Publilius Syrus leaves no doubt about the matter, yet wisely there is a view toward forgiveness.
The entire film is the basis of Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens on a completely refined and intensified level.
Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
The lay of the land, the body politic. It’s a game of vicarious thrills in which the innocent lamb is slain, Meyer explains it all for you.
The sublimate of all concoctions. Hysteria, pure and simple. Welles had Joseph K. trotted off between two strongarm men, who blow him up—thus ends the picture.
Two beautiful movements govern the piece, the death of Tommy (his spine cracked by Varla) dissolving into the “squirrel” of a gas station attendant and the final metamorphosis as The Old Man, a rich crippled recluse since his accident on the railroad. He was helping a lady catch the train, fell and cracked his spine (“she caught the next train,” as Kirk tells the story).
All of this is identified with votes for women, “a Democrat in the White House” and so forth. The configurations of the rival camps are a study in themselves, and lead to the eventual freedom of Kirk and Linda, inevitably.
A cinematic masterwork sans pareil.
A long deflection of all themes, from Meyer on marital disharmony to plain rattlesnake bite, finally revealing the true one, your motorcycle hood is war-crazy and thinks you’re a Commie on the battlefield.
That accounts for his intractable position, his one buddy’s a mama’s boy with a portable radio, his other one fleeth, man.
Who but a veterinarian to treat them?
Go-go dancers of San Francisco and their European cousins.
The Yanks create a forceful picture of abandon, the Continentals something a bit more representational.
Each more charming than the last, all of them equal, which is “the Russ Meyer touch”.
How Much Loving Does a Normal Couple Need?
A long succession of jokes, starting with that vacation property on the Colorado you’ve saved up for, now you take the suckers to make it pay, one of them is a crooked cop on the lam with a fortune to buy the place, there’s a heartsick man and his randy wife, your go-go daughter is the floor show (looks just like her mother), your new wife does a flaming volcano dance-and-dive bare-breasted into the river, that’s what the tourists get.
Into this aboard his Chris-Craft rides Laurence Talbot III, 21, of Newport Beach, on the run from family and fortune.
Pure genius all around.
Good Morning and Goodbye!
The central problem is realized quite similarly by Ken Russell two years later (Women in Love) as a crisis remedied by nature.
The farmer shoots his bed in frustration at a heckling wife (cf. Boorman’s Point Blank) who seeks the favors of a rock crusher later besought of the farmer’s daughter, whose sporty boyfriend fancies a turn with the farmer’s wife.
The genius loci takes a hand (Altered States).
“Distinctly skimpy and down-market” (Time Out Film Guide). Film4, dizzily bemused, manages to point out “it ranks among the clearest expressions of its director’s lusty aesthetic.”
Finders keepers, Lovers weepers!
Bar owner wastes his time on booze and a cultured whorehouse, his wife’s alone, the madam sets him up to be robbed by two Irish gangsters.
Meyer waits nearly half the length of the film to drop the joke of it all, the wife’s a “treasure chest”.
A very important Meyer theme, all the way to Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens.
Canby’s analysis is a hoot (“although I find his fantasies basically unpleasant...”).
The soul of Canada, with her husband the bush pilot urging tourists on their way, and keeping down uppity Yanks riding the draft toward Cuba.
Vixen, the great Canuck fuck. “Awkwardly developed,” said Variety.
Cherry, Harry, & Raquel!
The corrupting influence of the marijuana trade on the Southwestern border, in Teton County (Meyer country).
The pure surrealism of the editing has something in common with Peckinpah and Fuller, and is all Meyer’s own. “Flashes of nudes intersperse the unreeling every minute or so. Mebbe they're symbolic, they have no connection with the story” (Variety).
“Totally chaotic, completely incoherent” (Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader), yet how painstakingly clear it is (there is even a warning, prefaced over a beautiful montage, against this sort of censorship practiced for whatever reason), “assuming (dangerously) that there was any content here to begin with.”
A special homage to Buckalew’s Revenge of the Virgins, it may be, has its share of the inserts.
“An entertaining but slight and ultimately incomprehensible throwaway” (TV Guide)!
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
The feminine angst of rock music is propelled to stardom by a promoter who is himself a woman. The atmosphere is close to The End of Me Old Cigar, John Osborne’s play. The dénouement occurs at the beginning, by way of a foretaste.
Meyer in the studio achieves many of his sublimest effects, a sweet calm reason of unblinking assuasion amid the dramatic horrors, a beautiful art of very fine nuances in the ballpark of Warhol and Lichtenstein.
All-girl trio The Kelly Affair is re-dubbed The Carrie Nations, with a hit album called Look on Up at the Bottom.
The Seven Minutes
As abundantly illustrated on the witness stand, a work of art has form and content and “cannot be obscene” (Nabokov), if it fails to meet the conditions of its own existence it serves its own sentence upon itself.
Thus the very abstruse and perfectly pointed work rendered up by Meyer to Twentieth Century-Fox and the public at large.
“Another bad movie” from Meyer, said Roger Greenspun of the New York Times, with reference to Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.
“Meyer’s artistic eye remains most sure in composition and pacing,” Variety said in ignorance of the rest.
“This is Russ Meyer’s dullest film” (Time Out Film Guide).
The vision of God on Blackmoor Plantation in the West Indies, where slavery flourishes even after abolition by Parliament.
A very great masterpiece but dimly perceived, if at all, by reviewers.
A Soho whore runs the place with an Irish slave driver whose whip gives the title, and a black faggot from St. Cyr, after castrating her husband and cutting his tongue out.
The gentleman’s brother leaves Maxwell House, Surrey as one Sopwith, a bookkeeper, to assume a position at Blackmoor and discover the facts.
Before Avildsen’s The Formula and Lumet’s Power (but just about contemporaneous with Pollack’s Three Days of the Condor), Meyer has his Candide working in the desert at Martin Bormann’s Super Service. There the fellow is framed for his jealous wife’s murder, his picaresque adventures among the title characters culminate in her reincarnation like Wisdom from the brow of God as the angel proprietress of another desert service station. The murderer is hoist with his own petard, all ends happily on a mountain peak.
Meyer’s nudes begin with an homage to Vargas, they adorn the beautiful desert admirably.
Adolf likes being whipped, of course, but who put the piranha in his bathtub?
Eva Braun, Jr.
She has her reasons.
The opening scene is the masterpiece that lays it all out, why should the Pilgrim Fathers et al. waste themselves giving pleasure to the old fart?
His daughter, strained by passion, has a better idea.
A sublime complexity of misidentification gives the middle section, full of raw vigor that might account for anything.
Essentially meaningless to critics.
Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens
To get her moronic husband’s head out of her ass, a housewife in Rio Dio, Texas takes a job disguised as a Mexican stripper at The Other Ball, slips him a Michael Finn, and tries to make him “look a good fuck in the eye”, but she’s still left with robbing the cradle and screwing the garbage czar, until he’s born again in the Tub of Joy at Radio Rio Dio, “100,000 watts of faith-healing power”.
It’s a miracle, only a GI cameraman could do it, a supreme masterwork that draws the teeth of Smalltown, U.S.A.’s culturemeister, Martin Bormann once again.
And here, if anywhere, Russ Meyer meets Ken Russell. Variety had a faint hope, “satire... or fantasy, or both?” The Guardian puzzled over “why it all stopped”, the answer is obvious, Meyer is a director always labeled, never understood.
Another English critic suggests this film shows a dearth of ideas, as an American critic said of Godard’s Éloge de l’amour, at which one can only smile like the fellow in the lobby being told about Wagner’s want of counterpoint, “whilst inside the overture to Die Meistersinger has five themes going at once.”
For the camera, Meyer demonstrates his fine tilt-and-pan behind another camera on its tripod above the desert.
Overblown Pandora in California, double-tongued Tundi in Germany, are the occasion of a flexible autobiography.
Oakland, Berlin, Mojave, Palm Desert.
Titting and fishing (Montana, Alabama, with an Arriflex, Idaho).
The Handyman once again.