Vixen (1968)

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Vixen a.k.a. Russ Meyer’s Nymphomaniac. Everyone remembers Meyer movies for the T and A but the guy really was an impressive filmmaker, especially where editing and rhythm is concerned. His movies dance and boogie with genuine zest and vigour. I’ve seen a few now and his technique always pleases me (apart from Mondo Topless which is a waste of time).

The women don’t hurt either. I definitely share Meyer’s preference for the fuller-female form so it’s not hard for me to fall in love with most of his leading ladies. Vixen is the first one I’ve seen though that features a sole female protagonist rather than a trio or gang. Erica Gavin is a real knock-out (she’s also great in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls) and, as Vixen, joins the pantheon of strong, independent women Meyer likes to anchor his movies on. I’ve always seen his films as celebrations of womanhood rather than leering softcore exploitation. There’s an element of that, sure, but Meyer gives them way more depth and memorable dialogue than a pervert would give his eye-candy. The guy loves his characters, you can feel it throughout all his films. They are far more entertaining and amusing than anyone gives them credit for. Say what you will about Meyer, but the women always had the best parts in his movies and he treated his actresses like royalty.

Vixen is probably the most laser-focused Meyer film I’ve seen yet and the plot is rather slight as a result. For the first half it’s a pretty entertaining (if basic and dated) look at nymphomania with lots of raunch and risque scenes but then in it’s last stretch the film loses most of the titillation in favour of characters breaking down their prejudices by…talking. Huh? Meyer clearly had something to say with this movie and hats off to him for sneaking in a pretty noble message.

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