David O Russell seems keen to challenge Tim Burton for the title of Director With the Most Potential Projects in the Works. Not content with Old St Louis, Two Guns, Uncharted, Under Cover, Cocaine Cowboys and a cop movie with Ice Cube, Russell is now attached to a biopic of smut auteur Russ Meyer, in the early stages of development at Fox Searchlight.
Meyer, a filmmaker from the age of fifteen, shot newsreel footage during WWII, and in peacetime began to find success as a glamour photographer, shooting picture sets, including some centrefolds, during Playboy's early years. In the early 60s he started filming soft porn "nudie cuties", before hitting on his own niche of weirdly violent live-action cartoons, full of massive-breasted, aggressively dominant women, and spineless quivering men. And Charles Napier. Once publicly accused of being "nothing but a tit man", he retorted "That's only the half of it."
Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! was the flick that put him on the map, followed by such equally scurrilous classics as Vixen!, Supervixens! and Up! He liked exclamation marks almost as much as he liked boobs. Roger Ebert was such a fan that he wrote the script for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, and Meyer really was an auteur, in that he wrote, produced, directed, and self-financed most of his films, and retained all the rights. He died a rich man in 2004. His headstone reads "King of the nudies. I was glad to do it."
The biopic's script doesn't exist yet, but the pitch that Fox are negotiating to acquire comes courtesy of David O Russell's former assistant Merritt Johnson, who plans to adapt Jimmy McDonough's brilliant Meyer biography Big Bosoms and Square Jaws: a nicely balanced critique as well as a fascinating life story. Johnson also wrote Lovelace, the biopic of the Deep Throat star that's currently percolating, so it's clear in which filthy direction his interests lie. For shame.