SassyFlix | Fanny Hill

Fanny Hill

  • NR
  • 1964-09-25
  • 01:36:00
4/ 10
7 votes

Comedy, Erotica, Fantasy

Cult filmmaker Russ Meyer takes on directorial duties in Zugsmith s adaptation of the notorious erotic classic Fanny Hill. Set in pre-Victorian London, young Fanny finds herself taken in by a madame at one of the city s most elite brothels. A strange mix of Zugsmith s surreal slapstick and Meyer s trademark buxom beauties and thoughtful satire, Fanny Hill is an over-the-top saga of low-rent thrills in high-brow settings.


the 1964 version of the Fanny Hill story

Inane dialogue in this Russ Meyer burlesque farce/love story....but the naughty subject matter and low cut dresses were probably enough to keep the viewing public interested. Our innocent little Italian-born star, Leticia Roman plays Fanny Hill, who is looking for work, and ends up boarding in a house full of "female cousins". Roman had made GI Blues, along with 8 other films prior to this one. The fast carnival-type music, the hair-dos, and the costumes tip us off that this will be an odd period piece. Mrs. Brown (Miriam Hopkins) takes Fanny in, and claims that the residents and the visitors are all related, which adds another weird dimension to the plot. Try to catch the new lyrics to "London Bridge is Falling Down" as they frolic at the king's palace....Later, Fanny meets the dashing sailor "Charles", and when separated, Fanny is devastated. This 1964 version is one hour 45 minutes, and goes on way too long. The 1968 subtitled Swedish version remake is actually easier to watch, since it's in color, only 91 minutes, and has a more cohesive script.

Turn an erotic novel into a cheap farce and the result's not pretty

This is probably the most expurgated version of Fanny Hill you'll ever see. The only way to get an R rating in 1964 for a movie with a sexual subject seems to be to turn it into a leering, puerile comedy. The problem is that it doesn't work as a comedy, or as erotica, or even as historic fiction.

The plot revolves around Fanny's belief that she has been taken in by a kind lady to work in a hat shop, instead of in an expensive brothel. Fanny manages to avoid the clients she's been set up with for the entire movie without ever finding out the truth. The plot never evolves beyond this obvious story. There's also no attention paid to accuracy: the setting for the movie lurches around between 1750 and 1890, and the dialogue ranges even further.

Of all the actors in the movie, only Leticia Roman and Miriam Hopkins show any life. The others are stick figures, feigning animation with affected voices and arched eyebrows. Not that Roman and Hopkins aren't guilty of overacting: they just occasionally show there might be more there.

This movie may be worth preserving along with "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice" for anthropological studies on 1960's Hollywood attitudes towards sex, but it's not worth watching for entertainment. Read the book.

Sugar Hill.

Warning: Spoilers

Taking a look at the IMDb credits for Leticia Roman after recently re- watching Mario Bava's fantastic Giallo The Girl Who Knew Too Much,I was thrilled to discover,that along with Bava and Elvis,Roman had also starred in a very early Russ Meyer title.Opening my Russ Meyer DVD boxset for the film,I was surprised to ind that the title had been left out of the set.Deciding to search around the internet for the movie,I was thrilled when I stumbled upon a rare Pre-Cert Video of the title being sold on Ebay,which led to me excitingly getting ready to at last set eyes on Russ Meyer and Leticia Roman's team work.

The plot-

The 18th century:

Arriving in London from Liverpool with no money in her pocket,sweet,innocent Fanny Hill is relived to spot a jobs advert outside a building.Entering the building,Hill is met by a kind woman called Mrs.Maude Brown,who tells Hill that she runs a business which involves woman "escourting" the delivery of hats,to what are oddly all male customers.With Fanny not seeing the job for what it is,but instead viewing it as a job that can help men decide on what hat they should buy for their wife,Hill cheerfully accepts the job,and unwittingly enters the seedy underbelly of London with a huge grin on her face.

View on the film:

Made at the very end of his Nudie-Cutie era,co-director (who for the first and only time co-directed the film with Albert Zugsmith) Russ Meyer unexpectedly takes things in an extremely restrained direction for his first ever sound movie,and also his only period feature.

Despite the beautiful Leticia Roman (who is perhaps the only leading Meyer lady not to appear naked in a film of his!) still being able to give a delightfully charismatic performance as Hill,Meyer takes a huge dose of Roman's charm away by splattering the film with an ear- gratingly awful dub of Leticia's voice,which is also completely at odds with the rest of the clear "natural" soundtrack featured in the film.

Dragging Robert Hill's adaptation of John Cleland's infamous novel to a long 100 minute running time, (which would end up becoming Meyer's longest movie!) Meyer thankfully shows a glimpse of style with the film's appearance,thanks to Meyer and cinematography Heinz Holscher crisp black & white work allowing Costume Designer Claudia Hahne-Herberg's elegant work to be fully displayed,whilst Meyer also shows a fun fourth wall breaking side by separating the movie into "pages" which are shown on screen in a film where the girl sadly does not know too much.

Very weak, atypical film from Russ Meyer

Fanny Hill proved to be something of a one-off for famed sexploitation director Russ Meyer. For one thing, it was a film he made in West Germany and it was also a period film based on a literary source. It was hardly, therefore, the kind of material that Meyer was used to tackling. As such, it is definitely one of the less personal films he ever made, where he truly seemed like no more than a director-for-hire. The story follows a young woman who falls on hard times but is welcomed in a house populated by women; which the wide eyed innocent doesn't recognise as a brothel.

Whenever Meyer veers too far out of his comfort zone it often ends in trouble and Fanny Hill is unfortunately no exception. It is a film which will be unlikely to satisfy many Meyer fans nor those who liked the novel I should imagine. It's neither erotic nor funny and also commits one of the worse cinematic sins in being over-long too. Definitely a film which Meyer completists should at least see but it is something of a slog to get through though, so be warned. The most interesting aspect of it for me was the appearance of Laetitia Roman in the lead role. I had hitherto only known her from her starring performance in Mario Bava's highly influential year-zero giallo The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963), which needless to say was a considerably better film than this one. But it was nice to see her in something else at the very least.

Enjoyably silly period comedy romp

Warning: Spoilers

Sweet and naive young lass Fanny Hill (a charming and spirited performance by the busty and lovely Leticia Roman) gets taken in by cunning and conniving Madam Maude Brown (a delightfully vibrant portrayal by Miriam Hopkins) at an elite brothel in pre-Victorian London. Unbeknownst to Fanny, Brown plans to sell her to the first client who will pay top dollar for her.

Director Russ Meyer, working from a breezy script by Robert Hill, relates the entertaining story at a steady pace, maintains an engagingly dippy and farcical tone throughout, milks the amusing sense of blithely broad humor for plenty of belly laughs, offers a flavorsome evocation of the period setting, and stages the uproarious slapstick gags with considerable gusto. Moreover, it's acted with great zest by a game cast: Alex D'Arcy as a dashing admiral, Ulli Lommel as gentleman suitor Charles, Walter Giller as decadent aristocrat Hemmingway, Helmut Weiss as jolly old lecher Dinkelspieler, and Chris Howland as the painfully shy and bumbling Mr. Norbert. The presence of a bevy of beautiful ladies helps a whole lot, with Christianne Schmidtmer as the ditsy Fiona and Cara Garnett as the worldly Phoebe rating as the definite sexy stand-outs. Heinz Holscher's crisp black and white cinematography boasts plenty of snazzy animated scene transitions. Erwin Halletz's jaunty score further adds to the infectiously bubbly merriment. A fun'n'frothy affair.

Middling experience

Warning: Spoilers

This black and white screen version of the FANNY HILL story was directed by no less than Russ Meyer, but no fears, it was made before he became obsessed with voluptuous women and nudity. This is a surprisingly restrained comedy of sex and manners, with our titular heroine ending up working in a brothel and discovering all manner of strangeness there. It's part farce, part sex comedy, part exploration of an era, and in Meyer's hands it's a rather middling experience. The dubbing is rather distracting throughout, although there's no faulting the direction or the efforts to make it look authentic.

"Fanny Hill" meets "The Keystone Kops" (!)

Warning: Spoilers

FANNY HILL's yet another Albert Zugsmith "extravaganza", this one filmed in Germany, and originally meant for Douglas Sirk (!). Closer to Playboy magazine's "Little Orphan Fannie" than the knowing wench of eighteenth- century porn, Russ Meyer's opus aspires to rollicking comedy but only manages to achieve mildly amusing ...and that's being kind. Leticia Roman's woefully miscast as a poor lass who's taken under the wing of a brothel madam (Miriam Hopkins, who doesn't look too bad and even has a little decolleté going' on) and finds her virginity in peril at every turn. It's still intact (I think) at the happy ending much to Miriam's exasperation and if it had a more risqué script, a bigger budget, color photography, and Stella Stevens as "Little Orphan Fannie", Louella Parsons would have been right in proclaiming the film, "A female TOM JONES!"