The Wild West: the foundation this great nation of the United States of America was built upon, where men were men and women were women and it seemed as though nothing could tame them. It was a dangerous place to be, with gunfights a daily occurence - the incident at the OK Corral just one of the more famous ones - and Indians willing to kill you as soon as look at you, but there are those who feel nostalgic for those days. People like old Snick (Werner Kirsch), an oldtimer who remembers when the town he lives in was one of the wildest of the West. Let him tell you about it over a drink... straight from the bottle, of course.
Wild Gals of the Naked West was one of the so-called "nudie cuties" made by cult director Russ Meyer, but as with the others he crafted in this style, it is less popular with his fans, never mind those who don't avidly follow his work, and considered a lesser work in the filmmaker's canon. However, as far as the accoutrements of an almost plotless spoof of Westerns go, it is strikingly photographed in bright, often primary colours, using stylised set design and cartoonish imagery that renders this one of his best looking films, especially as he reverted to black and white for many of his mid-sixties films, not that those efforts looked worse, but it was a marked change in approach.
Old Snick is patently a young man decked out with white moustache and eyebrows to make him resemble a codger, but there's a sense of the unreal about this which appeals. Indeed, this has too poor a reputation; certainly Meyer thought it was one of his best and if it's no classic, it's too short at barely over an hour to wear thin on the patience. The humour may not tickle the funny bone nowadays, if it ever did, but there's a breeziness to its snappy scenes that even the frequent repetition of gags doesn't take away from. Indeed, it all comes across as inspired by silent comedy, as practically the sole person heard speaking is Snick's narrator.
Allusions to silent comedy are mainly down to the appearance of a Harpo Marx impersonator, not that Harpo appeared in many silent films, but in his sound outings he never spoke a word. He's one of the running jokes that the film cycles through, along with a gunfight that ends up being a lengthy fistfight seeing as how the two combatants cannot hit each other from three feet away, or a trio of three topless women who are always lassoing eligible men and pulling them up onto the balcony they perch upon. Yes, there is nudity, supplied by a bunch of buxom beauties who are often seen bathing themselves, so there's nobody who can claim this film was not clean. Well, the women were, anyway.
But as the tale telling of Snick informs us, this could not last forever, and presently a stranger (Sammy Gilbert) wanders into town, apparently a milquetoast who manages to avoid getting shot and checks into the local hotel, then heads over to the saloon whereupon, after the gags and stream of vivid images pop onto the screen in quick succession, he turns into the man who will clean up this town. With a huge gun, or rather a pistol with a huge barrel, he exacts comic retribution on the rowdies, and also gets the women to cover up, something that although it's put over with the same humorous methods, is meant to have us pining for a lost way of life. In many ways, for all its broad technique, Wild Gals of the Naked West is one of Meyer's most amiable works, and deserves another chance.
American director and one of the most notable cult filmmakers of the 60s and 70s. Meyer worked as a newsreel cameraman during World War II, before becoming a photographer. In 1959, his work for Playboy led to his first film – the hugely successful ‘nudie’ feature The Immoral Mr Teas. Other soft-core features followed before Meyer moved to a series of trashy, thrilling B-movies – Mudhoney, Motor Psycho and Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! – that combined the two elements – incredibly voluptuous women and graphic violence – that would become Meyer’s trademark.