Posted on Friday, March 18th, 2011 by Russ Fischer
Russ Meyer made cheap, grimy and oddly effective movies filled with violence and astoundingly buxom women. Consequently, he was an inspiration to, possibly even a hero for, multiple generations of filmmakers, musicians and artists who worked outside the lines. He was a gold standard, really, and films like Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!; Supervixens; Up! and many more were great pictures for both exploitation fans and kids looking for some weird thrills in the days before the internet provided instant access to every possible human fantasy object. (And, yes, he directed Beyond the Valley of the Dolls from Roger Ebert’s screenplay.)
Now David O. Russell might make a film about Russ Meyer, who died in 2004 at age 82.
Deadline says that Fox Searchlight is working on a deal to buy the director’s pitch for a film, with a script by Merritt Johnson (co-writer, Temple Grandin, and writer of the in-development Lovelace) and possibly material drawn from Jimmy McDonough‘s book Big Bosoms And Square Jaws: The Biography Of Russ Meyer, King Of The Sex Film. A Booklist review of that book says,
McDonough’s work paints a two-fisted tale of the legendary filmmaker who helped launch the sexual revolution with his scandalous Immoral Mr. Teas in 1959; caused a rip in the time/space continuum of the psychedelic 1960s with Mondo Topless and Super Vixens; and clenched the beatnik and punk ethics with Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill! and Beneath the Valley of the Ultra Vixens.Meyer was a square who helped define hip in an unhip time—those incredibly boring 1950s… Although McDonough (Shakey) infuses his book with well-researched history, he always comes back to Meyer’s obsession with buxom gals: “Meyer likened the process to an affair. After poring over every inch of their bodies with his camera eye, he’d grow bored—and so would they…. Once you’ve unwrapped them, the thrill is gone.”But what if you really don’t care about an incredibly immature man who spent his whole life engaging in “quickies,” producing and directing cheap films about stacked women and hanging out drinking with his WWII buddies?Here McDonough hits on a stroke of genius—he displays Meyer nurturing his macho image and melting down when that image is breached.
David O. Russell almost has more projects percolating than we can count, but a Russ Meyer biopic could be a worthwhile endeavor. He’s one of those figures whose films are often known more by reputation than experience, and the actual man is even more unknown to most. Where so many stories of writers/musicians/filmmakers end in some sort of financial tragedy, Russ Meyer was smart: he didn’t just make his films. He owned them, and therefore died a rich man. He was also a glamour photographer in his early days (and was the still photographer on Giant, of all movies)
And while the biopic of a filmmaker who is generally unknown to the public at large isn’t going to set the box office on fire, throw in the buxom women and violence for which his films were famous, and it could be an easy sell.