Mondo Topless (Russ Meyer / U.S., 1966):

Quite more than a cascade of uproarious nudie reels, this 60-minute dizziness boils away plot and character for a concentrated exploration of the artist's fixations -- Russ Meyer's Tales of Hoffmann, with girls, music, and montage. The prologue announces a palette of pure motion, and as a bonus gives a pellucid tour of San Francisco circa 1966, where the topless "phenomenon sweeping the country" has its roots: Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf flicker by, though the travelogue's parodist nature becomes clear as soon as the deranged narrator notes the city's "death-defying and rampaging" transportation while a trolley very meekly slides its way across the screen. The Coit tower is angled into an erect cock, the camera is on the hood of a car as it plows into the "yawning orifice" of Broadway tunnel, with a stark naked Barbette Bardot at the wheel. A procession of freakishly high-spirited, go-go dancing juggies follows in "swinging tribute to the unrestrained female anatomy," scored and edited to psychedelic rock (and the occasional "boooeing!") ringing out of bulky radios. Each Amazon gets her turn at the center of a bold, pop panel -- Pat Barrington next to an electrical tower against the cobalt sky, Darlene Grey in pigtails dipping her ginormous cans in a muddy swamp, Sin Lenee welcoming a torrent from a water tower (taken, along with a rushing train, from Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!). Lorna Maitland appears in a screen test for Lorna, but the fembot Meyer dotes on here is Bardot ("half French and Swedish, fifty-fifty where it counts"), who gets to express faux-puzzlement at Yankee prudishness. The middle-aged carny looks at the promise of Sixties revolution and simply sees tits, yet Meyer's collage of loudspeaker double-entendres and pointy nipples remains ironically attuned to the radical potential of unleashed sexuality -- the splendiferous "feeling of being let loose," which in Meyer's world can defy even the Berlin Wall.

--- Fernando F. Croce

Back to Reviews
Back Home