Russ Meyer’s goof of a debut film, The Immoral Mr. Teas, made the future cult cinema giant a filthy pile of money for something that was basically a pin-up picture in motion. Even Meyer himself, usually prone to larger than life arrogance, admitted that Teas was dumb idea that happened to get lucky due to excellent cultural timing. He once explained to biographer David K. Frasier, “It musn’t come across as some kind of great planning. I did it as I went along. […] Teas was a fluke, an absolute fluke. I had no real idea when I started. All I had was [Bill] Teas, three girls, and my dentist and my attorney for assistants.” Filmed over just a few days with limited resources, Mr. Teas, fluke or not, earned a name for Meyer & established an entire new genre of exploitation film-making: the “nudie cutie” (essentially a mainstream, winking, soft-core version of the stag film). It’s no wonder, then, that Meyer immediately returned to the Mr. Teas format & basically imitated his own creation for his next five features. There are varying levels of quality to Meyer’s Teas-imitating, by-the-numbers nudie cutie pictures, but it’s fairly safe to say that his second feature, Eve & The Handyman, is the worst, most unimaginative one of the bunch.
The titular Eve of this nudie cutie stinker is no other than Eve Meyer, the second (but by no means the last) wife of the film’s pervert director. In his pre-movie career, Russ had a ball photographing his buxom wife in the nude for “glamor magazines” & pin-ups. When it came to committing her body to moving pictures, however, Russ refused to deliver the goods & hides her top model body behind a loose-fitting trench coat for much of the film. The only charm that overlaps with Mr. Teas is in Eve’s off-screen narration (which she reportedly wrote herself, despite Meyer’s “written by” credit at the film’s beginning) which coos vague phrasings like “I’m a big girl in a big town with a big job” as she silently spies on a handyman for reasons that are withheld until the film’s final gag. There’s much less nudity than there was in Mr. Teas (with none contributed by the titular Eve), which means that the strange pastel voids that added a visual flair to most of Russ’ nudie cutie work is mostly absent, save a few isolated scenes. When it comes to the climactic moment that the extended burlesque act has been building to, Eve drops the spy act & removes her trenchcoat, revealing herself to be a “Strump Brushes” salesman hunting down the titular handyman for a business deal. It’s possible that revealing that gag in this review may have spoiled the movie for you uninitiated, but I promise watching it in real time spoils the experience even more.
Eve & The Handyman is, above all, a waste of time. The film starts with an ungodly gag in which a shrill alarm clock rings incessantly despite attempts to turn it off. At first I was turned off by this incessant annoyance, but by the end of the picture I was desperate for the alarm clock to return & make me feel anything at all. The best laugh I got of out of the entire film was the opening credits, in which Russ thoroughly makes sure that you know he produced, directed, wrote, photographed, and edited the picture himself. As for Eve Meyer, she was far from a captivating screen presence here, but her contributions to Russ’ sexploitation work thankfully didn’t stop with this nudie cutie stinker. Eve went on to produce nearly all of Russ’ 1960s films under the moniker Eve Pictures well after the dissolution of their marriage, proving to be extremely useful both in taking financial risks on his batshit insane visions and in nailing down distribution deals & getting deadbeat cinemas to pay up their share. I hope that Eve & The Handyman served as some kind of cherished compensation for all she did for Russ down the line (especially considering how awful he could be to women), because it’s doubtful the film will bring much pleasure to anyone other than Eve herself.