Say this for the folks at Anthology Film Archives, the former courthouse that’s best movie venue in the East Village (or Bushwick) and a strong contender for the most innovative, shoe-string film programming in NYC—they don’t need a weatherman. Air-conditioning notwithstanding, they’ve decided to match the mid-August heat with a pair of intertwined screen-scorching shows: “The Glandscape Artist: Russ Meyer” (August 15-25) and “That’s Sexploitation!” (August 21-29)
Not a complete retro, the Meyer show naturally includes his big budget Roger Ebert-scripted breakthrough “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls”, a movie that 20th Century Fox was compelled to show on a double-bill with the even more outré “Myra Breckinridge,” and the boob-meister’s most celebrated indie “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!,” a cult film for its title alone. (I remember seeing those four words as a somewhat jaded teenager on a 42nd Street marquee and being amazed by its brazeness—like they can put that on a sign?!) “Vixen!” was Meyer’s contribution to the craziness of 1968 but I admit being partial to the black-and-white movies that preceded it—not just “Pussycat!” but it’s sequel “Motor Psycho” and the hillbilly mammary-crazed “Mudhoney”. Not included is that other hilariously titled Meyer film: “Good Morning and Goodbye.”
Even more archival, “That’s Sexploitation!” showcases some of the pre-porn skinflicks that Meyer out-classed, including another mid ‘60s 42nd Street perennial “Olga’s House of Shame” and the ineffably primitive Texsploitationer “Hot Blooded Woman.” Anthology favorite Doris Wishman gets a special double bill (Chesty Morgan as “Double Agent 73” and the cautionary quasi-doc “Let Me Die a Woman”); another sidebar is pure archeology, devoted to the hardcore stag films of the ‘20s, ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s. Milder, but no less quaint, is the 1954 Burly-Q compilation flick, “Merry Maids of the Gay Way.”
And that ought to keep you kids busy through more or less Labor Day when school resumes and the “essential cinema” returns.
Photograph: Jackie Raynal