Will Ferrell as Russ Meyer

In 1970, soft-core exploitation maestro Russ Meyer and film critic Roger Ebert collaborated on a film that Ebert later characterized as one “that got made by accident when the lunatics took over the asylum.” Beyond the Valley of the Dolls was originally intended to be a sequel to the melodrama Valley of the Dolls, but in the hands of Meyer and Ebert it became something else. Ebert calls it “a satire of Hollywood conventions, genres, situations, dialogue, characters and success formulas.” It’s a bizarre curio of a very different Hollywood.

Naturally, the story of its creation is going to be a movie, called Russ & Roger Go Beyond. Will Ferrell is looking like the actor who will play Russ Meyer in a project that doesn’t yet have any other creative talent attached.

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It was inevitable that Roger Ebert‘s life story would end up on film in some manner. A documentary or two seemed the most likely method, but a couple producers have something else in mind, and are putting together a dramatic feature.

The film is called Russ & Roger Go Beyond, and it has a script by Christopher Cluess (SNL, The Simpsons) that tells the tale of the collaboration and unique friendship between director Russ Meyer and critic as they worked together on Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Ebert scripted the film for the b-movie mogul whose drive-in cheapies featured outrageously busty women, strange comedy, and plenty of sordid thrills and violence.

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, co-written by Ebert and Meyer and directed by Meyer, wasn’t quite like the director’s other “bosomania” efforts. It was originally developed as a sequel to the trashy drug melodrama Valley of the Dolls. (Where “dolls” meant pills, not women.) But Ebert and Meyer eventually scripted the film as a spoof of the original and, as Ebert said, ”a satire of Hollywood conventions, genres, situations, dialogue, characters and success formulas, heavily overlaid with such shocking violence that some critics didn’t know whether the movie ‘knew’ it was a comedy.” Read More »

Faster Empire Strike Strike (header)

There are more variations of official and unofficial Star Wars action figures than anyone could possibly count, but even within that vast sea of paint and plastic, this inspired reimagining of the cast stands out.

On a commission from comedian / actor / geek guru Patton Oswalt, artist Jamie Follis created a line of Star Wars toys based on your favorite characters — that is, if they’d been created by Russ Meyer instead of George Lucas. And given Meyer’s tastes, that means Luke, Han, Vader, and others been transformed into busty babes, while Leia stands alone as a thick piece of beefcake. Check ‘em out after the jump.

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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. Read More »

ebert-meyer-sex-pistols

Recently Sex Pistols manager and rock impressario Malcolm McLaren passed away, which prompted Roger Ebert to write about his memories of working with McLaren on a film that never fully materialized. In 1977 Ebert worked with McLaren and director Russ Meyer on Who Killed Bambi?, meant to be a punk rock A Hard Day’s Night, but which stalled out while filming.

Now Ebert has released his entire original screenplay online, and it makes quite a little punk rock / mainstream crossover curiosity. Read More »

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