Rope of Flesh
1966 Lorna Maitland, Directed by Russ Meyer
Mudhoney concerns the mental decay of a jealous depression-era sharecropper, and its effects on his family and town. Some good acting by unknowns and lesser names enhance a script which is the strongest of three produced and directed by Russ Meyer since exiting the strict nudie sphere. Sexploitation elements exist, but in such a way that near-complete removal would still yield an acceptable and absorbing entry in the general adult market.
When California - bound J oh n Furlong arrives at Missouri farm of Stu Lancaster after a prison stretch, his employment cues the declining sanity of Hal Hopper, wife-beating husband of Lancaster's niece Antoinette Cristiani. Latter projects very well as the loyal wife who takes all the punishment even after falling in love with Furlong in a tastefully-handled affair.
Hopper is very good as the cheating, frustrated hubby who is variously taunting, remorseful, scheming, brutal and submissive. Top honors go to Lancaster, the stolid landowner who wills his property to Furlong instead of Hopper, knowledge of which sends the latter into a final
crazed spree of murder and barn-burning.
Interjected at intervals are Lorna Maitland and Rena Horten of the local bordello shanty run by toothless Princess Livingston, whose cackles of derision wear thin after a time. The babes are lookers, natch, and Miss Horten does well in a role which calls for her to play a deaf-mute.
Frank Bolger is the film's Elmer Gantry, whose fire and brimstone talk is tinged with curiosity until Hopper corrupts him via a trip to the sporting pad. He helps Hopper turn the town against latter's wife and lover until his ow1~ wife, Lee Ballard, is strangled by the Unglued husband, then becoming the fanatic leader of a lynch mob over which sheriff Nick Wolcuff has no control.
The unusual climax finds a town full of embarrassed lynchers afraid to look at one another, Miss Horten shocked into speech, and an up-heat note for the young couple. Raymond Friday Locke and William E. Sprague scripted a Locke story which has some strong dramatic angles and salty dialog which is not out of place.
George Costello and Meyer allocated the pictures negative cost to good advantage. Latter's direction is excellent. Walter Schenck's camera is crisp. Editing and sound by Charles G. Schelling is also excellent, particularly the extensive exterior recording achieved sans looping.
Eve Productions inc. release, produced (with George Costello) and directed by Russ Meyer. Features Hal Hopper, Lorna Maitland, Antoinette Cristiani, John Furlong, Ssu Lancaster, Rena Horsen, Prinmae Livingston, Sam Henna, Nick Wolcuff, Frank Bolger, Lee Ballard, Mickey Foc,s, F. Rufus Owens. Screenplay, Raymond Fri. day Locke, William E. Sprague~ camera, Waiter Schenek; editing, sound, asariee C. Schelling; music, Henri Price. Reviewed at Paths Labs, L.A., Aug. 13, 1965. Run. ning time, 92 min.