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THE SEVEN MINUTES (1971) *

The year after Russ Meyer’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls was a smash hit for 20th Century Fox, he made The Seven Minutes. It was not a hit and wound up being his last movie for a major studio. It’s easy to see why it was not embraced by audiences as it’s an interminable bore.

The plot is about a disturbed privileged man who is accused of a rape he did not commit. Because he had a scandalous book, “The Seven Minutes” in his possession at the time of the arrest, his attorneys try to say that the book drove him to commit the crime. In order to make that stick, they put the book on trial to see whether or not it is obscene. A compassionate defense lawyer tries to prove the book’s artistic merit and has to contend with bribes, dirty tactics, and physical violence from the other side.

Are you still awake?

There are snippets of Meyer’s usual fetishes here. Nearly all the women in the picture are big and busty, although the sex and nudity really is quite minimum, which is strange for a movie that’s all about defending artistic use of pornographic subjects. Seeing some of Meyer’s stable of actors like Charles Napier, Stuart Lancaster, and Edy Williams helps to keep you from completely dozing off. (The character of Martin Bormann turns up too, albeit with very little to do.) It was cool seeing a young Tom Selleck as the publisher of the book, but his role is rather nominal.

Meyer’s use of rapid-fire editing is also ever-present, but it does little to spruce up the endless dull dialogue scenes. If you thought the scenes of the crusading lawyer building his case were slow going, wait till you get to the courtroom sequences. They’re guaranteed to put you to sleep.

Basically, the whole thing feels like an overlong episode of Matlock with a couple of titties tossed in. It’s hard to understand why Meyer would want to make this movie. I’m sure the subject of free speech spoke to him, but he really is the wrong director to tackle the subject. Luckily for us, he quickly returned to his drive-in roots with his next picture, Black Snake.

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