Cherry, Harry & Raquel! (Russ Meyer / U.S., 1970):
(Megavixens; Three Ways to Love)

It kicks off with a crawl about unnecessary censorship, and ends up with a complex picture of U.S. frontier relations and heritage. ("Think about it," nudges the narrator.) The game is marijuana, "that mind-bending narcotic," the plot is lifted from the opening of Coogan’s Bluff, jeep and shootout and all. Cherry "the limey nurse" (Linda Ashton) with straw-blond, granite-jawed Sheriff Harry (Charles Napier), her ample form sculpted in the sands in a charming From Here to Eternity send-up. Raquel (Larissa Elly) the blonde temptress for rental, bouncing from the craggy kingpin (Frank Bolger) to the Chicano deputy (Bert Santos): "Aw, get your enchilada outta here!" Id creatures and specters in the nation’s lower body, with Mexico in the distance and the Apache (John Milo) fondling shotguns. And then there’s the desert’s bare soul (Uschi Digard), frolicking in a feather headdress amidst priapic rock formations when not answering an outdoors switchboard in trilling Swedish. "The toys of our times, the toys of our changing times," as the song goes. Maidens straddling police sirens, leisurely oil rubdowns, images strung together and lit like firecrackers, these are a few of Russ Meyer’s favorite things. Stuck with bucketfuls of inserts when half of the film was lost, the auteur simply devises a new pop montage -- pinups in split-second flickers, Fellini’s disembodied cackles, one Wesselmann after another. Bushwhacking in the dunes segues into a Peckinpah squib fiesta while the two heroines get to know each other on a divan, and Meyer naturally braids the bullet-riddled macho tussle with the Sapphic grope into a grand eruption. The whole shebang springs from a housewife’s typewriter in the final wink, "what does life hold further in store for these creatures of erotica?" With Michelle Grand, Robert Aiken, Michaelani, and John Koester.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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