Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"First time she ever handles a gun, she gets shot!"

Not affiliated with the Kinsey Report...
Time for another relative quickie.

During the art house movie boon in the 90's, a weird revival came around in the form of Russ Meyer's 1965 trashy epic Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!  Naturally, I took a front row seat for the first showing and was summarily blown out of the theater. Every line was loaded with a hardboiled style of innuendo, as three go-go dancers hunt after the fortune of a crazy old man in the desert.  I still remember my dad chuckling when I told him what I'd seen, and he explained that back when it had originally been released, everyone knew Russ as the "guy who made nudie flicks with the girls with big boobs." (On a side note, I got to meet Meyer a few years later at a midnight screening. Though in his mid-70's at the time, he was slightly drunk and ready to party it up with a bunch of college film nerds.)

Russ Meyer and...say...who's that dapper young film critic on the right?
Over the years, I managed to see all but one of Russ's piece of handiwork...and he indeed made lots of nudies with girls with big boobs.  But what was odd was how much analytic attention, including a fair amount of praise, Russ received from not only mainstream film critics but also feminist critics. Furthermore, Russ had had a wild life having worked as a cameraman in World War II and as one of Hef's photographers for the early days of Playboy before delving into filmmaking. But despite his leanings toward the lurid and titillating (pun fully intended...come on, you can't resist putting that word in a review of Russ somewhere), he quietly bowed out when some full frontal and a heavy heaping of innuendo had to make way for hardcore pornography.

In Russ's catalogue under "nature" photography...
Which brings us to his 1967 effort Common Law Cabin (aka. How Much Loving Does a Normal Couple Need?), which was written by (and, oddly enough, starred) Jack Moran, who'd written Faster Pussycat.  And it is truly an old trashy paperback come to life as multiple couplings amongst a strange disparate group of strangers devolves into violence at a strange backwater resort in the deserts of Arizona. Now, I could take the time to write up a long paragraph trying to give you a better idea of the plotting, but like any salty old paperback, it'd result in a lot of minor random plot twists that led to either sex or death and little else.

The movie's short, falling just shy of a 70 minute runtime. The pacing's a little up and down, making it still feel well around feature length or more. The acting's reasonable (The highlight being Alaina Capri, who excels at being the vampy bitch). The plot, as I mentioned, is fairly absurd, eventually involving stolen diamonds and a runaway millionaire kid. But boy, the dialogue flies fast and funny. It's a colorful and brightly lit version of something you'd expect coming from dark alleyways and flophouses.  I could cite some of it, but let's face it, innuendo lies pretty dead on the page until some buxom raven-haired vamp slices your ears with it.

Not, I repeat, not from a 60's sitcom...
In any event, it's not one of Russ's better efforts, but certainly a must for aficionados of Meyer's work. It's got the aforementioned oversexed "girls with big boobs," though they keep them pretty much under wraps. It's got the men who are impotent in more ways than one. And after all the fun, it's got the usual moralistic wrap-up, which is something I always found hilarious. Much like the writings of de Sade, who sought depths of depravity well below the lowest of where Meyer plumbs, the stories still manage to reward the virtuous and punish the evildoers.