Russ Meyer's Interesting Facts

1 After his military service, he returned to Hollywood, and enlisted as industrial cameraman (1945) with the Local 659 Guild of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). After he was regraded to still man (1955), he found work as still photographer (uncredited) for the long lasting, prestigious The Red Skelton Hour (1951), and the soon-to-be television series Cheyenne (1955), Gunsmoke (1955), Richard Diamond, Private Detective (1957), Perry Mason (1957), Maverick (1957), Have Gun - Will Travel (1957), Sea Hunt (1958), Rawhide (1959), Twilight Zone (1959) and The Fugitive (1963).
2 Told John Lydon (Johnny Rotten of the punk rock band The Sex Pistols) during the pre-production of the ultimately aborted Sex Pistols film, "Who Killed Bambi?", that the United States had saved Britain during World War II after Rotten had expressed his distaste for Americans. Meyer had been stationed in Britain during the war; Rotten was unimpressed.
3 Considered his marriage to third wife Edy Williams a huge mistake. After divorcing Williams, he never married again.
4 A first-rate cameraman, Meyer fine-tuned his craft in the Army Signal Corps during World War II. After the War, he moved to Hollywood to try to catch on as a studio cameraman, but despite his expertise and the excellent footage he had shot during the war, he was refused a job due to the guild system. The Hollywood guilds typically were closed to outsiders unless they had gone through the apprentice system by starting at the very bottom.
5 While bivouacked at Moberley House, Manchester, sometime in May 1944, Russell Meyer was assigned by colonel Laughton, of the US Army Pictorial Service (London) to film a group of GI prisoners being trained in a stockade near Southampton. The GI guards told Meyer that they had committed capital crimes, and had accepted to be parachuted behind enemy lines prior to D-Day in a daring sabotage mission. He was driven there by his army driver, Charles E. Sumners, filmed the twelve dirty, uncooperative prisoners (of whom one American Indian and a Negro) for about 40 minutes, then returned, sent the 200 ft reel to headquarters, and later received the usual critique by captain Fred F. Fox on his work. Meyer encountered colonel Laughton near Metz, after the invasion, and was told the men had been parachuted, but not reported since. Meyer told this story to his friend Eric Michael Nathanson, who was impressed by it, and on which he based his novel behind the movie The Dirty Dozen (1967).
6 Served as Staff Sergeant with the US 166th Signal Photographic Company, commissioned to the 3rd US Army Headquarters, under the command of General George S. Patton. On the afternoon July 3, 1944, his section (Newsreel Unit #1) boarded a landing ship tank (LST) pointing to Normandy, France. Russell opted to land early before the headquarters' company, and went over the side to a waiting landing craft infantry (LCI) getting a preview of the war immediately at hand. His cameraman work - both at rest and during infantry and artillery action - received good critiques from his superiors, unless they were very good for composition and coverage, when they received special references. On June 2, 1945, he did a special request on General Patton, and the footage he shot is used in Patton (1970), and seems to have influenced the statue of Patton at the West Point Academy, New York.
7 His works were considered pornographic at the time of their release, but contain very little graphic sexual content by today's standards.
8 His films are often studied in film schools and shown on the cult film festival circuit.
9 Although he briefly attended junior college, he admitted that he was pretty much self taught as a photographer and filmmaker.
10 His films have influenced both John Waters and John Landis. John Waters has often cited him as inspiration for his female characters.
11 In the 1980s, directed a video for a rock band who took their name from one of his films, Faster Pussycat. The band names Vixen and Mudhoney also came from Meyer film titles, even though Meyer had no connection to them.
12 Told New York Times that the first time he visited a whorehouse, as a soldier in France during World War II, he was taken there by Ernest Hemingway.
13 Famously reclusive, he rarely granted interviews in person but most of his 24 movies have been released through his company, RM Films.
14 In 1977, Malcolm McLaren hired Meyer to direct a film starring The Sex Pistols. Meyer handed the scriptwriting duties over to Roger Ebert, who, in collaboration with McLaren, produced a screenplay entitled "Who Killed Bambi?". According to Ebert, filming ended after a day and a half when the electricians walked off the set after McLaren was unable to pay them (McLaren has claimed that the project actually died at the behest of main financier 20th Century-Fox, under the pretext that "We are in the business of making family entertainment.").
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