Big Bosoms and Square Jaws is Jimmy McDonough’s biography of cult movie legend Russ Meyer. You couldn’t write a boring book about Meyer, and while the definitive biography has probably yet to be written this one is certainly worth reading if you’re a fan.
You only need to look at his movies to realise that Meyer was a strange guy. McDonough at times seems to me to be just a little judgmental, especially in regard to Meyer’s attitude towards women. Clearly he had issues in this area, but on the other hand most of the women who starred in his films seem to remember the man with considerable affection, and seemed to be happy to accept him even with his many sexual idiosyncracies.
McDonough does offer some interesting insights into Meyer’s childhood and his very odd relationship with his and his sister (who tragically ended her life in a mental hospital). I don’t think he really explains what made this complex and fascinating man tick, but it’s a good starting point.
The best part of the book is the account of the making of the movies. Meyer’s film-making method sounds like a mixture of endurance test and organised chaos. There’s also quite a bit on his early career as a photographer for men’s magazines such as Playboy.
And of course there are the wonderful women who played such an important part in his life and work. They were every bit as delightfully strange as Meyer himself, which is probably why they were able to work with him! You can’t help falling in love with women like Haji and Kitten Natividad. Now I want to watch all his movies all over again!