Narrative Voice in Russ Meyer's Films

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This study deals with an analysis of 13 of Russ Meyer’s major films produced between 1959 (The Immoral Mr. Teas) and 1979 (Beneath the Valley of the Ultra Vixens), exploring the narrative voices present with and exterior to the texts. Beginning with a study of the decade in which Meyer first produced his films, the work proceeds to a discussion on film as a form of narration and then to describing the three basic voices controlling the stories: the “extradiegetic” narrator who assumes the role in movie-making of the voice beyond the fictive voices of all the characters in the films; the character or “homodiegetic” narrator functioning in his own story as an actor within the film; and the “intradiegetic” narrator or voice-over narrator who is not a character in the story but whose role is that of commentator. The reading of these three basic narrators within the films will illustrate how they contribute to the calculated humor and/or moral ambiguity in exploiting fundamental dichotomies of carnality and Puritanism that constitute the director’s distinctive style. The book’s appeal is primarily to scholars of film criticism, semiotics, and social history as well as censorship and first amendment rights.


“In this new work by Dr. Michael Sevastakis, the metaphors in the films of Russ Meyer are closely analyzed along with every other simile, trope, symbol, analogy, code and clue so that the message comes through in great detail with intellectual understanding and academic depth. Thirteen representative films by the master of the low budget cost core porn film are examined by a master of the history of the classic horror with many insightful connections to literature, religion, popular culture, psychology, philosophy, politics, music, art, the film business and film history. Only Woody Allen could make these broad constructs of our life and time with bring meaning to a visual art ...” – (from the Foreword) Donald Staples, Professor Emeritus, University of North Texas

“This book examines the life works of Russ Meyer, a filmmaker of the late 1950s to the later 1970s, who was best known for his outrageous ‘nudie comedies’ ... While Meyer has been considered everything from a pornographer to an auteur, Dr. Sevastakis looks upon him with an analytical eye, never judging, but examining his works (as one would any filmmaker) according to the language of film ... In summing up the life and works of his subject, Dr. Sevastakis quotes critic Roger Ebert that Meyer was ‘a man who took great joy in his life and work.’” – Professor Jacqueline Guzda, College of Mount Saint Vincent, Riverdale, NY

“This study by Dr. Michael Sevastakis has much to offer the film scholar as well as the avid devotee of Russ Meyer’s films because Dr. Sevastakis has not taken the fun out of Meyer’s films. The scene descriptions in the book are so vivid you see the film before your eyes and relate physically and emotionally to the visually painted picture ... This book is a delightful, informative, complete read about a director whose serious contributions to the art of film have long been neglected.” – Professor Frances Broderick, College of Mount Saint Vincent, Riverdale, NY

Table of Contents

Foreword by Donald Staples
1. Introduction to the Life and Times of Russ Meyer
2. Supervixens (1975)
3. The Immoral Mr. Teas (1959)
4. Lorna (1964)
5. Mudhoney (1965)
6. Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1966)
7. Common Law Cabin (1967)
8. Good Morning and Goodbye! (1967)
9. Finders Keepers, Lovers Weepers! (1968)
10. Vixens (1968)
11. Cherry, Harry & Raquel (1969)
12. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)
13. Up! (1976)
14. Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens (1979)
15. Conclusion

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