Vixen (1968) is the most intelligent film to date in that uniquely American genre, the so-called skin-flick.
The movie directed by Russ Meyer is a celebration of zestful direction, photography and moral/political issues, and a lot of the time it's very funny. In a field filled with cheap and dreary productions, Meyer is the best craftsman and the only artist. He has developed a directing style so open, direct and good-humoured that it dominates his material.
It's done with such droll dialogue and high humour that even the most torrid scenes somehow manage to get outside themselves; coming across rather well given the movies genre. Meyer is also heavy on the redeeming social value department. His characters debate communism, Vietnam, draft dodging, civil rights and airplane hijacking, deciding in favour of civil rights.
The story line is barely strong enough to hold the scenes together; it involves a bush pilot and his wife (Vixen, portrayed by Erica Gavin) who take another couple on a fishing weekend in Canada. Also present are Vixen's brother Judd and his black friend Niles (aka Rufus), a draft evader protesting what he believes is a racist war. An Irish Marxist wanders in later from somewhere. There is also a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman who wanders off somewhere.
The acting is barely competent, the list of credible actors includes a young Harrison Page (in the role of Niles Brook), as the black draft dodger who also stars in Russ Meyer's Beyond The Valley of the Dolls. Niles comes-off as a politically correct black American who is against the Vietnam war (and has a say in other social political issues for that matter).
Vixen, I guess, can best be described as good unserious fun. It is frankly presented as a skin-flick, and if you object to that kind of entertainment, stay away. It's approach to sex is more healthy and some-what rational compared to other movies of it's kind. And, to that end Vixen offers small morsels of rationality, the incestial shower scene involving Vixen and her brother Judd is one example, whereby Judd protests to showering with his sister by saying "We stopped doing that when you were twelve, you said yourself it wasn't right."
If you're looking for a sixties skin-flick look elsewhere, this movie has more substance than style (the style that is present in the movie is Russ Meyer's unique blend of photography and direction). In comparison to his previous movies this is the one that put Russ in the Hollywood spot-light, and lead to him directing Beyond The Valley of the Dolls (1970).
DVD extras: Trailer reel, director's audio commentary, Erica Gavin interview, photo album & scene selection.
Aspect ratio: Full frame