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Russ Meyer Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trade Mark (3) | Trivia (14) | Personal Quotes (8)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 21 March 1922Oakland, California, USA
Date of Death 18 September 2004Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA  (complications from pneumonia)
Birth NameRussell Albion Meyer
Nicknames The Fellini of the sex-industry
King Leer
Height 6' 0¾" (1.85 m)

Mini Bio (1)

The son of a policeman and a nurse, Russ Meyer began winning prizes at 15 with his amateur films. He spent World War II in Europe as a combat cameraman. After the war, he became a professional photographer, shooting some of the earliest Playboy centerfolds. He made his film directorial debut with The Immoral Mr. Teas (1959), the first nudie (softcore sex) film to make a profit over a million dollars, which led to a string of self-financed films that gradually became more bizarre, violent, and cartoonish. In the mid-1960s, he established his style with his Gothic period, a quartet of black-and-white films: Lorna (1964), Mudhoney (1965), Motorpsycho! (1965), and Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) that many consider to be his best work. After the blockbusting Vixen! (1968), he was hired by 20th-Century Fox to make studio pictures. The first of these, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970), was an enormous hit, but after the lukewarm reception of the uncharacteristically serious The Seven Minutes (1971), Meyer returned to the sex-and-violence films that made his name, culminating in the delirious Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens (1979). He spent the 1980s working on various autobiographies, both in film (Breast of Russ Meyer) and print ("A Clean Breast").

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Spouse (3)

Edy Williams (27 June 1970 - 7 November 1975) (divorced)
Eve Meyer (2 April 1952 - 1969) (divorced)
Betty Valdovinos (1947 - 1948) (divorced)

Trade Mark (3)

Casts women with abnormally large breasts
Usually ends his films with some type of violence
Almost never pans or tilts or dollies his camera, suggests movement through editing, specifically montage.

Trivia (14)

In 1977, Malcolm McLaren hired Meyer to direct a film starring The Sex Pistols. Meyer handed the scriptwriting duties over to Roger Ebert, who, in collaboration with McLaren, produced a screenplay entitled "Who Killed Bambi?" According to Ebert, filming ended after a day and a half when the electricians walked off the set after McLaren was unable to pay them (McLaren has claimed that the project actually died at the behest of main financier 20th Century-Fox, under the pretext that "We are in the business of making family entertainment").
Famously reclusive, he rarely granted interviews in person but most of his 24 movies have been released through his company, RM Films.
Told NY Times that the first time he visited a whorehouse, as a soldier in France during WWII, he was taken there by Ernest Hemingway.
In the 1980s, directed a video for a rock band who took their name from one of his films, Faster Pussycat. The band names Vixen and Mudhoney also came from Meyer film titles, even though Meyer had no connection to them.
His films have influenced both John Waters and John Landis. John Waters has often cited him as inspiration for his female characters.
Although he briefly attended junior college, he admitted that he was pretty much self taught as a photographer and filmmaker.
His films are often studied in film schools and shown on the cult film festival circuit.
His works were considered pornographic at the time of their release, but contain very little graphic sexual content by today's standards.
Served as Staff Sergeant with the US 166th Signal Photographic Company, commissioned to the 3rd US Army Headquarters, under the command of General George S. Patton. On the afternoon July 3rd, 1944, his section (Newsreel Unit #1) boarded a landing ship tank (LST) pointing to Normandy, France. Russell opted to land early before the headquarters' company, and went over the side to a waiting landing craft infantry (LCI) getting a preview of the war immediately at hand. His cameraman work - both at rest and during infantry and artillery action - received good critiques from his superiors, unless they were very good for composition and coverage, when they received special references. On June 2, 1945, he did a special request on General Patton, and the footage he shot is used in Patton (1970), and seems to have influenced the statue of Patton at the West Point Academy, New York.
While bivouacked at Moberley House, Manchester, sometime in May 1944, Russell Meyer was assigned by colonel Laughton, of the US Army Pictorial Service (London) to film a group of GI prisoners being trained in a stockade near Southampton. The GI guards told Meyer that they had committed capital crimes, and had accepted to be parachuted behind enemy lines prior to D-Day in a daring sabotage mission. He was driven there by his army driver, Charles E. Sumners, filmed the twelve dirty, uncooperative prisoners (of whom one American Indian and a Negro) for about 40 minutes, then returned, sent the 200 ft reel to headquarters, and later received the usual critique by captain Fred F. Fox on his work. Meyer encountered colonel Laughton near Metz, after the invasion, and was told the men had been parachuted, but not reported since. Meyer told this story to his friend 'Eric Michael Nathanson', who was impressed by it, and on which he based his novel behind the movie The Dirty Dozen (1967).
A first-rate cameraman, Meyer fine-tuned his craft in the Army Signal Corps during World War II. After the War, he moved to Hollywood to try to catch on as a studio cameraman, but despite his expertise and the excellent footage he had shot during the war, he was refused a job due to the guild system. The Hollywood guilds typically were closed to outsiders unless they had gone through the apprentice system by starting at the very bottom.
Considered his marriage to third wife Edy Williams a huge mistake. After divorcing Williams, he never married again.
Told John Lydon (Johnny Rotten of the punk rock band, The Sex Pistols) during the pre-production of the ultimately aborted "Sex Pistols" film, "Who Killed Bambi?", that the U.S. had saved Britain during World War II after Rotten had expressed his distaste for Americans. Meyer had been stationed in Britain during the War; Rotten was unimpressed.
After his military service, he returned to Hollywood, and enlisted as industrial cameraman (1945) with the Local 659 Guild of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). After he was re-graded to still man (1955), he found work as still photographer (uncredited) for the long lasting, prestigious The Red Skelton Hour (1951), and the soon-to-be TV hits Cheyenne (1955), Gunsmoke (1955), Richard Diamond, Private Detective (1957), Perry Mason (1957), Maverick (1957), Have Gun - Will Travel (1957), Sea Hunt (1958), Rawhide (1959), Twilight Zone (1959), The Fugitive (1963).

Personal Quotes (8)

I love big-breasted women with wasp waists. I love them with big cleavages.
The girls kick the hell out of the guys. I've always played well at the Ivy League . . . Cornell, Dartmouth. I have never encountered a berating woman.
[commenting on his third marriage] I'm a serial bigamist.
I'd rather play cards if I can't have a lady with big tits.
I always had a tremendous interest in big tits.
Nothing is obscene providing it is done in bad taste.
There can just be a thin edge separating evil and humor.
Supervixen is like The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946). She wears a white dress, she's good, pure. _Shari Eubank_. She plays both parts; it's a reincarnation thing. But, you say, did Superangel really die in that bathtub? Was she really electrocuted? And she now is on top of the mountain, with the blood streaming down, but looking beautiful and elegant, guiding the destinies of three people: terrible, nasty, dirty, nogood Harry Sledge, policeman, former green beret, redneck, opinionated, a bum lay, sexually sick, very physical, very muscular; and Clint, clean, slim, obviously a stud but not in a pushy, forward kind of way, totally good; and Supervixen, voluptuous, pure, good, totally giving, self-sacrificing. And at the end she says, 'Leapin' Lizards!'

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