Lorna (Meyer, 1964)

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Though a lesser Russ Meyer film, Lorna is still a grade above most b-movies. It’s stylish, well made and clever, fitting well within Meyer’s oeuvre. The story of a sexually frustrated housewife, the film begins with a strange and ironic “man of God”, telling us to be careful not to judge, because it is not our place to condemn. Those who indulge in this behaviour, will be judged and condemned far harsher than those who remain passive, and live for themselves and for God. The buxom Lorna has been married one year to her husband, who is shy, and has never satisfied her sexually. She cannot ask him to change, because he never listens, or is just too timid to discuss sex. One day while he is at work, she meets a stranger (who she is not aware has just escaped from prison), who tries to rape her, but she ends up relenting to his advances and enjoying the experience. Being so suddenly awaken sexually, she hangs onto the stranger, helping him, feeding him and sheltering him… all with the hopes that she will feel the bliss of orgasm again. Meanwhile, at work, her husband is being teased unrelentingly by his co-workers over his lacklustre sexual appetite, and suggest that his wife is having an affair.

Like many of Meyer’s films, Lorna deals with hypocrisy and the connection between sex and violence. It’s hardly his most accomplished film in this regard, though it hints at greater ideas that he explores with more skill in his best work. The touch on religion is introduced in the beginning and the end, first offering the peaceful though warning, words of God, to his final return as he condemns Lorna for her actions. The irony is obvious, though it does require a bit of thoughtfulness on the audience’s part, remembering his message from the onset right until the end and how it has transformed over the course of the narrative. Though in many of Meyer’s films, his women meet untimely ends, it’s rarely with any kind of joy… but a sort of wink at our society’s unforgiving and repressive attitudes about sex, especially when it comes to women. The sex and violence come together through both the husband and the escaped convict, the former being sexually meek, but physically able, while the former being sexually powerful, as well as violent and sadistic. What becomes difficult, is how to differentiate their sexual attitudes, the husband is not an accomplished lover and doesn’t even attempt to rectify the situation. He seems to love his wife, but he sees his sexual needs above hers, even though he would sacrifice a great deal in order to make her happy. The convict is an escaped criminal, up for murder and robbery, he has no conscious, and yet he is very willing and able to satisfy Lorna. It seems just as motivated by ego and need however, the need to satisfy both his sexual urges, as well as controlling and earning compliments/praise from Lorna. It’s also important to re-iterate that he did first try to rape her, her enjoyment was a lucky chance, not something he had ever expected or even perhaps wanted.

The best part of the film are as Lorna recounts the last year or two before the current situation. An interesting montage of churches, water, and clothes create a very sensual and evocative experience. The film’s major failure perhaps, is the lack of a strong female lead. Meyer’s best films have characters like Margo Winchester or Varla, and though appropriately busty, Lorna is a flat performer and rather uninteresting.

4 responses to “Lorna (Meyer, 1964)

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