30 September 2004


Apparently we lost him last week, but I just found out.

Russ Meyer

greatest exploitation director of all time

One must start with his notorious obsession. As a friend said to me when first initiated into the mystery of his work, “I just realized — this film was made before silicone. How are these women possible?” Indeed: he delighted in actresses not so much talented or sexy as improbable.

But having got that out of the way, there are his films. The distinctive campy sensibility. A movie so totally satisfying it karate-chops the competition! The memorable wacky dialogue. Oh, you're cute: like a velvet glove cast in iron! The uncannily perfect composition of shot after shot. The sheer joy in filmmaking that shows in every frame of his work.

It seems like everyone cool loves his work. John Waters said of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!:

Beyond a doubt, the best movie ever made. It is possibly better than any film that will be made in the future.

Sometime collaborator Roger Ebert tries to do him justice.

At the request of my mother (!) below, I offer two recommendations for those of you who want to take your first plunge into Meyer's ouvre.

In deference to John Waters, I point first to Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! as the purest example of Meyer's vision. Three go-go dancers out racing their cars in the desert learn about a half-mad old geezer's legenday stash of money, and try to steal it. Hilarity ensues, including what Roger Ebert describes as “the most bizarre meal I have ever seen on film, with the single exception of The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.”; I should warn you that the picture starts out slow, but I assure you that it soon accelarates like a thrill-crazed she-devil behind the wheel of a souped-up sportscar.

Then, speaking of Ebert, I offer Meyer's other masterpiece, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. If Pussycat is wholly novel, yet strangely resonant, Dolls is the inverse, a pastiche so richly familiar that it creates something unique. The Village Voice tells us “it's fabulous, teddy bear — a psychedelic wow that serves up the free love, plunging necklines, androgynous boys, and lusty lezzies of the [early ’70s] era with a narcotized abandon,” but that leaves out the picture's timeless cinematic loopiness. Oh, and Ebert wrote the screenplay. Dig it, baby.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mom again..........

I thought "I" was cool but since I never heard of him.....guess I better get "cool" and check out one of his films -- recommendation, please?