Cast & Crew
After making off with a fortune in unclaimed stolen jewelry, ex-detective Barney Rickert arrives at a run-down Arizona dude ranch near the Colorado River. Needing a hideout, he offers to buy the place, but the owner, Dewey Hoople, refuses to sell. Determined to have privacy, Rickert bribes Cracker, an alcoholic beachcomber, to leave with the ranch's only means of transportation. Rickert then proceeds to win over the female inhabitants by seducing them one by one. Although he has little trouble succeeding with guest Sheila Ross and Hoople's voluptuous mistress, Babette, an exotic dancer, Rickert fails to conquer Hoople's teenage daughter, Coral. Furious at being rebuffed, he attempts to rape her but is prevented by a college playboy named Laurence Talbot, heir to a considerable fortune. After murdering both Cracker and Sheila, Rickert then forces Talbot and Coral to take him up the Colorado to Yuma. In the battle that ensues, Rickert is knocked overboard into the swirling waters and drowns.
Russ Meyer, 1922-2004
Born Russell Albion Meyer on March 21, 2004 in Oakland, California, his father was a policeman and mother a nurse. It was the latter that lent young Rusty the money to purchase an 8-millimeter Univex picture-taking machine when he was 12. Quickly he was making films around the neighborhood and won his first prize by the time he was 15. When World War II came around, he was sent to Europe as a newsreel cameraman. After the war, he became a professional photographer, working on studio sets, producing stills on such films as Guys and Dolls and Giant. He eventually found himself doing glamour shots of beautiful models, and would then find fame as one of Hugh Hefner's chief photographers for Playboy magazine.
Sensing that the same audience who was receptive to Playboy would also be receptive to a "nudie" flick, Meyer made his film debut with The Immoral Mr. Teas (1959). Shot as a silent on a miniscule budget of only $24,000, the financial windfall of this soft-core sex film astounded the movie industry, garnering over $1 million. The key to Meyer's success was to walk the fine line between sexual baiting and obscenity. The plot - a man subjected to a powerful anesthetic discovers that he can see through the clothes of every woman who walks by him - was titillating without being too graphic (there is never any physical contact between the players), and Meyer cleverly worked himself around the local film censors while still appealing to his mostly male audience.
Meyer kept the streak coming with such films as Erotica (1961), Wild Gals of the Naked West (1962), and Europe in the Raw (1963), but these were still soft core teasers that concentrated more on voyeurism, than anything more intimate. That changed with the release of the notorious Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill (1965), where there was a healthy dose of foreplay, leather, blood, carnage, and big-breasted gals for the filmgoers. He kept the fever pitch up with the equally raunchy Motor Psycho (1965), and Mondo Topless (1966). Although his films were relegated to drive-ins, arthouses and adult theaters, many of these viewers came back for more screenings, and Meyer was seeing a healthy profit being turned on his productions.
The film that would eventually break him out of the underground was Vixen (1968). The title character was essentially a nymphomaniac who would sleep with anybody - including her own brother! The film had purists in a lather, which is just what Meyer - ever the self-promotor - wanted. The film was an astounding hit. The entire production cost merely $76,000 dollars, yet earned over $6 million. 20th Century Fox, in deep financial trouble, wanted to cash in on the sudden rash of X-rated films and signed Meyer to direct his first big-studio picture. The film, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970), an in-name only sequel to Valley of the Dolls (1967), was a smash. The screenplay, written by film critic Roger Ebert, dealt with the lives of three young ladies who were determined to make it as a rock band at any cost! It was well-received as a fairly sharp parody of its predecessor and holding more than its share of campy laughs. His next film, the "serious", The Seven Minutes (1971), based on the best-selling novel by Irving Wallace about a pornography trial, was a critical and commercial flop, and it quickly ended his career in big-budget pictures.
By the mid-'70s, Meyer returned to the skin game with such titles as Supervixens (1975), Up! (1976), and his final film Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens (1979). With the advent of hard-core pornography (Meyer's films were teasing but never explicit) and the demise of drive-ins, Meyer found himself out of fashion in the adult film industry. By the '80s, he was something of a recluse, although he continued to make money with the success of his films on VHS, and eventually DVD.
Toward the end of his life, Meyer saw much appreciation for his work on numerous levels: he was offered a cameo role as a video camera salesman in John Landis' (a longtime fan of Meyer) Amazon Women on the Moon (1987); respect from mainstream film critics, various film festivals honoring his work; teachings on his films offered in modern culture courses at such respectable modern institutions as Yale and Harvard; and the open sincerity of noted directors like Landis and John Waters, who claim that Meyer is a great influence on their own work. In 1992, Meyer published his three-volume autobiography, A Clean Breast: The Life and Loves of Russ Meyer. Meyer was single at the time of his death and he left no survivors.
by Michael T. Toole
Russ Meyer, 1922-2004
Also known as Conjugal Cabin, and Common-Law Cabin!