Monday, February 22, 2010

Featured Icon: Russ Meyer (March 21, 1922 - September 18, 2004)

Russell Albion "Russ" Meyer (March 21, 1922 - September 18, 2004) was an American motion picture director, producer, screenwriter, cinematographer, editor, actor, and photographer. Meyer is known primarily for writing and directing a series of successful low-budget sexploitation films that featured campy humor, sly satire, and large-breasted actresses.

His first feature, the nudist comedy The Immoral Mr. Teas (1959), cost $24,000 to produce and eventually grossed more than $1,000,000 on the independent/exploitation circuit, ensconcing Meyer as "King of the Nudies." Over the next decade, he made nearly 20 movies with a trademark blend of odd humor, huge-breasted starlets and All-American sleaze, including such notable films as Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) and Vixen! (1968). Russ Meyer was a true auteur who wrote, directed, edited, photographed and distributed all his own films. He was able to finance each new film from the proceeds of the earlier ones, and became very wealthy in the process.[4] And unlike many independent directors of his era he chose to cast actresses like Shari Eubank or Cynthia Myers who were considered extremely beautiful and wholesome.[5]
Meyer's output can be divided into several eras. Earlier works like The Immoral Mr. Teas, Eve and the Handyman, and the Western-themed Wild Gals of the Naked West were stylistically similar to the nudie cutie fare of the era, though separated from the pack by their superior color cinematography. 1964's Lorna saw the ever economical director revert to black-and-white; with this change came a greater emphasis on storyline, almost theatrical violence, domineeringly psychosexual women, and their insipid male counterparts. The "Gothic" period (as it was termed by Meyer) reached its apex with the commercially underwhelming Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, which would eventually be reclaimed as a cult classic. It has a following all over the world and has inspired countless imitations, music videos and tributes.

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