“The bush pilot had to know a little about everything in order to survive.”
A deeply racist woman (Erica Gavin) whose bush-pilot husband (Garth Pillsbury) is clueless about her infidelity has sex with a Canadian mountie (Peter Carpenter) and both members of a couple (Vincene Wallace and Robert Aiken) who have chartered a ride with Pillsbury. Next, Vixen (Gavin) dares her own brother (Jon Evans) to have sex with her, and mercilessly hassles Evans’ African-American, draft-evading friend (Harrison Page) — but when an Irish Communist (Michael Donovan O’Donnell) hires Pillsbury for a special trip and Page comes along, Gavin finds the tables turned.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Racism and Race Relations
- Russ Meyer Films
- Strong Females
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary provides significant historical context for this “landmark soft-core sex film from ‘King of the Nudies’ Russ Meyer”, which “bypassed [the] stag-movie circuit for long runs in major theaters” and “made what was probably [the] biggest rate of profit on investment in independent-film history until Halloween — playing in some theaters for over a year, and making history at one drive-in where it sold several times more tickets than the town’s population” (!!!). He writes that “in its own way, it had [the] impact of and paved the way for Deep Throat,” becoming “the subject of many articles” and with “star Erica Gavin [doing] the talk-show circuit, taking on the likes of Betty Friedan, who insisted Meyer had exploited Gavin.” (Apparently “years later Gavin agreed.”) He asserts that “Gavin’s erotically charged performance surely is on the verge of being obscene”, and that this “is the perfect film for swingers”, though the “bizarre finale” temporarily diverts it from its “stag-movie plot”.
Unfortunately, while Peary concedes that Gavin’s Vixen is a “foul-mouthed, racist” woman, he nonetheless describes her as “Meyer’s best heroine”, and the reason this picture hasn’t “faded away by now”. He writes that “as the most aggressive female of them all, she does the best job of expressing a woman in sexual heat”, and apparently “proved to be a heroine even women viewers liked,” given that many “weren’t used to seeing cinema heroines be so confident, so aggressive, so free of sexual inhibitions.”
It’s sad to think that so many women in the late 1960s were willing to overlook Vixen’s abusively racist rhetoric towards Page (who gives the best “straightforward” performance in the film). While I understand that Vixen is meant to be over-the-top and uninhibited in every way — including, just for instance, seducing her grown brother — seeing so much toxic vitriol heaped upon the film’s one Black character is simply intolerable. I had a hard time getting through this one, and am frankly flabbergasted that it has maintained such a following.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Harrison Page as Niles
Nope; steer clear unless you’re a diehard Russ Meyer fan.