Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rant #228: Russ Meyer Busts Out

OK, I am going to admit it. I am a Russ Meyer fan.

No, not a fan of the old-time ballplayer, but a fan of the man who created a genre of movies that probably many of you have overlooked: the jiggly film. These weren't porn flicks, they were bouncy flicks.

In the days when there were no movie ratings, but there were underground sexploitation flicks being made by numerous producers, Russ Meyer's work rose above all of them.

Let me keep you abreast of who Russ Meyer was.

Russ Meyer was a pretty well known wartime photographer during World War II. Once the war was over, he decided to pursue what one might call a less virtuous path, producing girlie movies in the age of the 1950s and the dawn of Playboy Magazine.

He populated his movies--little cheapos which didn't cost much and which played at local movie dives and drive-ins--with astoundingly proportioned women. Let's just say that if the Barbie doll was actually a human being, she would have been featured in his films.

Although his movies were made on the cheap, shown in movie houses that you wouldn't take your pet rat to, these films made enormous amounts of money.

With titles like "The Vixens," "Harry, Cherry and Raquel," and "Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill," you just knew what type of flick you were getting.

And yes, after awhile, regular Hollywood took notice, because the money numbers were just too staggering.

He made a couple of legitimate films, including "The Seven Minutes" and "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls,"--the latter film was written by movie reviewer Roger Ebert--but his bread and butter were cheapo nudie flicks. They were not XXX-rated, and by today's standards, most of his films would probably get an R rating.

He returned to that genre in the mid-1970s, putting out such films as "Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens" and "Up" and his popularity continued through the 1970s.

That is when I learned about him and his movies, the years I attended college. They were rites of passage for me.

I even had one chance meeting with him.

I was interviewing one of the stars of "Up," the ridiculously endowed Raven de la Croix, for my college newspaper in a movie theater that was showing the film to sold-out audiences.

I spoke with her for a few minutes, and then I asked her, "You told me you had a young son. How does he feel about his mom appearing in such movies?"

Well, before she could open her heavily lipsticked lips to utter an answer, out pops this old guy from a door that was behind me. He screams "Interview Over!" and leads the lady away from me.

I didn't know who this old fart was until I was later told that it was Russ Meyer himself! He had been monitoring the interview from behind this door.

Oh well, I wish I could have gotten his autograph!

Anyway, what this all leads up to is that Playboy Channel in March showed five of his films to celebrate his birthday. Although he died a few years ago, he is still revered in the film community by many. Count Quentin Tarrantino as one of his disciples. I often thought the "Kill Bill" films were Russ Meyer movies without the large breasts.

Anyway, that is my story.

Now at least you know who the man was. His films are available on video if I have generated any interest in you.

Heck, if I can talk about breastfeeding in a previous rant, I certainly can talk about breastwatching in another!

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