With “Finders Keepers, Lovers Weepers!” director Russ Meyer continues his set of soap-opera movies revolving around couple’s relationships and their sex-life, or lack thereof. To spice things up this time he has added a couple of other ingredients like the robbery of a go-go bar and the wife of the owner of said bar being in an abusive relationship. A relation ship in which he cheats on her with hookers and rapes her. He also turns down her wishes as he doesn’t want his own wife to work as a topless dancer in the bar, but I don’t think that should be hold against him.
The guy I’m talking about is Paul and he owns a go-go bar which makes a nice sum of money. One evening two customers come in with the intent to rob the place after closing time by hiding themselves in the bathroom. Paul is a bit of a douche as he likes to visit a local brothel run by a black woman, who has all kinds of white girls employed. Since this movie was shot when the civil rights movement in the US was making headlines I can’t help but think this was Meyer’s sign of support. Well before blaxploitation came around Meyer included a strong black woman pimping white girls. I wonder if this movie did well back then in the far south.
After a lengthy visit at the brothel where Paul has sex with both a white girl and the black owner (interracial intercourse, another controversial element) he gets a bit too rough and is dropped at his house by the bouncer of the brothel. Here we meet his cute wife Kelly (Anne Chapman) who doesn’t want to stay at home all the time and wants to work at the bar as a dancer. Paul refuses and is more interested in having sex with her, but she refuses so he forces himself onto her. Afterwards he falls asleep and she goes to the bar distressed to talk to bartender Ray (Gordon Wescourt), witnessed by the two robbers hiding out in the john. They are attracted to each other and out of anger against Paul she has sex with Ray at his place. In the meantime Paul wakes up and goes to his bar looking for Kelly, but walks into the robbers instead…
In a lot of his movies Meyer includes the rape of women, but most of the time the impact of the rape seems to be very minimal or the rape is even played as a comedy. In “Finders Keepers, Lovers Weepers!” Kelly is raped by her husband Paul. Instead of brushing it off, she runs out of the house distressed to the only man she talks to on a regular basis: Paul’s employee and bartender Ray. In the bar she gets on stage and as a revenge dances her ass off, much to the pleasure of the customers, but close-up shots of her face actually reveal a tormented look. Something you don’t see every day in a Russ Meyer movie that depicts rape.
After the more restraint and teasing “Common-Law Cabin” and “Good Morning… and Goodbye!” Meyer returns to what him famous and his movies hits in the first place: gratuitous nudity. The big bosomed starlet this time is Anne Chapman, who not only possesses a nice rack, but also has a very nice “ghetto booty” she gets to flaunt on several occasions. With her Meyer also pushes the limits of what he’s showing on screen. In all of his other movies he only shows the women topless and sex is shot in such a way we mostly see people’s faces, but in “Finders Keepers, Lovers Weepers!” takes it too another level. Nothing too extreme compared to what we have gotten used to today but he inserts close-ups of butt-shots and during the topless dance-scene of Chapman he even made some crotch-shots taken between her legs. Everything is covered, but never was Meyer this explicit. A sign of the changing times as the sexual revolution of the 60’s was in full swing.
Somehow it feels like this little known movie is responsible for influencing director’s like Joel Schumacher and Paul Verhoeven. The close-up shots of butts and crotches have been shot similar as those shots in Batman & Robin and a sex scene in a pool is very reminiscent of the one in Showgirls.
The movie does have a strange structure to it making it feel as if the movie is going nowhere. The movie might have a brisk running time, but it’s not paced correctly. The first 25 minutes revolves around Paul running his go-go bar and him going to the brothel where he overstays his welcome. It’s too big a part of the movie since it has no real function to the plot. We meet cover-girl and female protagonist Anne 26 minutes in, which is over a third of the movie’s running time. When you look at it the movie does have some sort of three act structure to it:
- Paul is a douche as he goes to a brothel
- Kelly is raped and runs into the arms of the bartender afterwards
- Everybody ends up in the robbery
But because the movie suddenly switches its main focus from Paul to Kelly it all feels kind of out of balance.
Meyer incorporates a lot of his typical trademark elements. The big breasted women, the random gratuitous nudity and even the quick cuts during the sex scenes. In earlier movies he sometimes intersected them with suggestive images, in “Finders Keepers, Lovers Weepers!” he inserts shots of a demolition derby when Kelly and ray are having sex in the pool.
“Finders Keepers, Lovers Weepers!” is an enjoyable movie, it’s fast-paced and questionable plot elements like sorceresses are absent. It’s a very simplistic movie, but one that works because of it despite the problems with the balancing of the focus. Meyer knows what the audience wants and provides us with a movie that does just that and nothing more. It has a brisk 70 minutes running time, making sure it never gets really boring even though there isn’t much to the plot.