Daily | Russ Meyer @ Anthology

Russ Meyer and Roger Ebert in 1970

Russ Meyer and Roger Ebert in 1970

“He has been dubbed ‘the Eisenstein of sex films’ by John Waters and ‘King Leer’ by the Wall Street Journal,” begins David Fear in Time Out New York. “He was an adult-film-industry groundbreaker, an indie-filmmaking pioneer and a savvy, self-made businessman-cum-control-freak. He was an unlikely First Amendment hero, a second-wave feminist’s nightmare (that’s not a compliment, by the way) and a third-rate Freudian analyst’s wet dream. Most of all, though, Russ Meyer was what you might call a breast man. As Anthology Film Archives’ The Glandscape Artist: Russ Meyer makes abundantly clear, referring to the filmmaker by that last description is like calling King Kong a large, perturbed ape.”

J. Hoberman at Artinfo: “Not a complete retro, the Meyer show naturally includes his big budget Roger Ebert-scripted breakthrough Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, a movie that 20th Century Fox was compelled to show on a double-bill with the even more outré Myra Breckinridge, and the boob-meister’s most celebrated indie Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, a cult film for its title alone. (I remember seeing those four words as a somewhat jaded teenager on a 42nd Street marquee and being amazed by its brazeness—like they can put that on a sign?!) Vixen! was Meyer’s contribution to the craziness of 1968 but I admit being partial to the black-and-white movies that preceded it—not just Pussycat! but it’s sequel Motor Psycho and the hillbilly mammary-crazed Mudhoney.”

The first part of a 1990 interview filmed by Mike Carroll

Vixen!, notes Simon Abrams in the Voice, “has all of the director’s fetishistic quirks, particularly his unabashed love for Rubenesque, sex-hungry women, and naked antipathy for everyone else (draft dodgers, Commies, Irishmen)…. Meyer’s self-professed ideal viewer may have been ‘some guy… with semen seeping out of his dick,’ but in his best films, he was mainly trying to keep himself entertained.”

At Twitch, Peter Gutierrez suggests catching Motor Psycho as a “way to pay homage to the great Haji, a unique screen presence who sadly just passed away. Motor Psycho may also be Meyer’s ultimate rebuttal to those who simplistically equate sexploitation with sexism, as it contains some of the most low-key yet disturbing condemnations of misogyny (check the sheriff’s treatment of a rape victim) you’ll find anywhere. Sure, there are few eye-rollingly absurd scenes, too, but the overall seriousness—buoyed by a typically intense Alex Rocco performance—all but smother them. If that weren’t enough, the striking use of the desert landscape confirms a tentative theory of mine: that Meyer was a true unacknowledged master of the Western.”

The Glandscape Artist opens today and runs through August 25.

Part 2

Update: Film Comment has posted a fun interview with Meyer conducted by Ed Lowry and Louis Black back in 1980. The first question: “A few years ago, you and Roger Ebert were preparing a movie with the Sex Pistols. What happened to it?”

Update, 8/19: At Cinespect, Michael Rawls writes up quick takes on the “twin peaks of the Meyerian corpus,” Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls—plus, Vixen!

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