Recently Al Ewing and Sarah Peploe came into possession of a box set containing “18 uplifting classics” (end quote) from the cinematic oeuvre of Russ Meyer. Heedless of the consequences, they have taken it upon themselves to watch and review each of these in turn on a roughly one-per-week basis. This is part two.
DISCLAIMER DEPT: This is probably NOT SAFE FOR WORK. Also, SPOILERS.
Eve And The Handyman is pretty much a one-woman show for Eve Meyer, who plays the bulk of the female roles, as well as a spy-type who follows the titular Handyman around all day. You can tell when she’s being the spy because she’s wearing a spiffy trenchcoat/beret combo – otherwise hair and makeup remains constant throughout.
She’s not really a spy, though, she’s a brush saleswoman OH NO SPOILERS
That’s the entirety of the plot – Eve Meyer narrates a load of psycho-philosophical guff about The Modern Man and The Game Of Life, familiar to any of our readers who sat through The Immoral Mr Teas, but this time strained through a filter of pulp-spy-novel tropes about pursuing quarry. Lots of stuff about the lengths she will go to to land her man, which should clue the viewer in that she’s actually a strip-o-gram, except in a twist on the twist she isn’t because she’s a brush saleswoman. OH NO SPOILERS AGAIN.
We meet this particular sap as he tries to drown his clanging alarm clock in a bathtub like a charmingly whimsical version of the similar scene in Supervixens (of which more in a couple of months or so.) This sets up what we can expect from here on in – short, unamusing semi-vignettes in which The Handyman finds himself bamboozled by modern life and/or unexposed breasts.
Example one – he goes to the laundrette to fix a machine or something. This involves him sticking his head right in it and keeping it there while a tomato of the period does her laundry a la the Levis advert from the 1980s. The Handyman pulls his head out in time to look in completely the other direction to her exiting naked back. Eve throws her head back and laughs while wearing a beret, from behind a dryer.
Example two – he spots a pole in the middle of nowhere with a tiny sign on top of it. He spends four hours changing into some converse sneakers and shins up the pole to read the sign. The sign says ‘Wet Paint’. The Handyman expresses shock and falls off. It is too late. His overalls are ruined. Eve throws her head back and laughs while wearing a beret, this time from behind a flower.
Yes, that happened. You can’t unhappen it.
Example four – The Handyman goes for a game of tennis. Eve Meyer is there in a rocketship bra and a tight top. She is also watching in a beret from behind a wire mesh. Soon it is the Handyman’s turn to play. An enormous butch tiger of a man makes angry tiger noises as he crunches a tennis ball in his hand. The Handyman prances about like a tit. After four hours of this the man-tiger hits the ball with the force of a thousand exploding planets. The Handyman swings his racket only to find that it has been disintegrated by the impact of the ball and he now holds a shattered bit of wood. Shattered like his penis. A chirpy death march plays. Eve Meyer throws back her head and laughs while wearing a beret, from behind a stream of cod-philosophical narration.
And so on and so on. Eventually, Eve-in-beret surprises our sad sack at home, after he’s given up all hope, and does a striptease except it’s not because she’s a brush saleswoman.
But then she has sex with him anyway via symbolic stock footage of oil derricks, space rockets, kettles and various musical instruments. Also she turns into a cat. Why she goes to this trouble after laughing at him for the entire film is presumably encoded somewhere in the narration for scholars to puzzle out. But it does the job of turning The Handyman into a sixties-ready machismonaut, to the extent of curing his vision and changing his hideous truck into a sleek white fifties-era roadster. LE FIN.
DESIGNATED SAP: Anthony-James Ryan turns in a sterling performance as a near-perfect example of the mute sap. Here he is being surprised by oedipal anxiety.
BECAUSE YOU CAN DIE THERE: It wouldn’t be a Meyer film without a bit of wilderness – the Handyman obligingly drives out to the middle of nowhere at various points, to be a tree surgeon (ha ha he is dressed as a surgeon but not a tree surgeon a human surgeon oh I am dying) and come across more naked women than is statistically probable.
OF ITS TIME: Jukeboxes.
FAMILIAR FACES: Still none, although later on Frank Bolger will become increasingly familiar. Here’s our first sight of him as a street sweep:
ONE HIT WONDERS: Joseph Carroll. IMDB has no idea what he played. The tiger-man? Or was that man of mystery Sam Meyer? IMDB doesn’t have a clue about him either. James A Evanoff played ‘The Artist’, which makes him one of four possible freaky beatnik artist-types, all of whom got camera time. So I guess if we watch all films made since and see which artist doesn’t turn up in any of them, we’ll know that guy is James A Evanoff. Not to mention Francesca Leslie, who apparently played ‘Francesca’, in a film where nobody is mentioned by name. Thank you IMDB.
BREAST COUNT: From here on we’re counting naked frontal breasts, otherwise we’d be here all day. So a grand total of two, and neither of them Eve Meyer’s – they belong to a model in the Beatnik Scene, possibly Francesca.
NEXT WEEK: Wild Gals Of The Naked West.