Thursday, September 14, 2006

Eve and the Handyman (1961)

Two years after more or less inventing the nudie-cutie genre with The Immoral Mr. Teas, Russ Meyer was already trying to blow it apart with this portrayal of sexual temptation as persistent force. More a series of vignettes centered around Anthony James Ryan's nameless handyman and the various guises of Eve Meyer than a traditional film, this starts out amusingly; as each successive vignette is a variation on one joke, though, the inspiration wears thin rapidly. It's most interesting as a joke on the raincoat crowd, as it's essentially an object lesson in frustrated desires (the female ones, oddly enough, as the whole shtick is that Ryan, wrapped up in work as he is, pays no attention to the various barely-clothed females he encounters through his day); also, the blase sauciness of Eve doesn't measure up to the ferocious alpha-female heroines of later Meyer. Early in the film, Eve says in voiceover, "I appeal to you, judge. Who is the cleverest of us?" I say the cleverest is Russ himself, and here he's gotten too clever by half. The last two minutes, though, are pure shining genius.

Grade: C+


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