The Immoral Mr. Teas (Russ Meyer / U.S., 1959):

Nothing immoral about Russ Meyer's peek-a-boo debut, spilling with sophisticated acuity from the opening floral montage that makes a cubist out of Manet, or possibly Renoir (both père et fils, for Picnic on the Grass came out that same year). Bucolic dissolves give way to tilted shots out of Tashlin, wholly appropriate since Meyer's goal is to expand the main gag of The Girl Can't Help It; the title character (Bill Teas) is "a simple, uncluttered fellow," goateed, bow-tied and straw-hatted, filling in for middle-aged seaminess. An angry moppet knocks his hat off with a rock as he ambles over to work, which consists of transporting phony sets of teeth in and out of dental offices -- the winky existentialism amounts to trading the technology of fake mandibles for the bounty of nature, represented by Vargas-styled girls with squeezed cleavage. The nurse's top is dutifully left unbuttoned and a waitress places her decotellage on the counter while mixing coffee and cream, although the titties stay covered until a trip to the beach, where the whole mise-en-scène does a double-take: cartoon swirls catapult Mr. Teas into little nudie skits, color-coded for abstraction and held for willowy giggles. A brisk detour into burlesque, with Meyer applauding in the front row (echoed in Les Bonnes Femmes) foregrounds the camera's incarnation of the heated male gaze, but, as it readily becomes clear, "the frustrations of the modern world" are actually the frustrations of voyeurism. The horny protagonist can only peek, a hooker takes him to her room just to iron his jumpsuit, he's the one getting penetrated (by the nurse's pricking injection); in the woods with a trio of naked chicks, he's cock-blocked by the whimsical narrator ("Sunshine is important to photosynthesis and evaporation, which leads to rainfall," over a shot of lounging nudists). Mr. Teas goes to profess his Angst to a psychiatrist (who reads Sick, Sick, Sick, a Mel Brooks jest), but, as the clothes evaporate, Meyer wisely sits back and enjoys the show. With Ann Peters, Marilyn Wesley, Michele Roberts, and Dawn Danielle.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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