From any other filmmaker, the action/sexploitation hybrid Cherry, Harry & Raquel! would seem outrageous, what with the fever-dream editing and incessant closeups of bouncing breasts. From Russ Meyer, the king of mammary movies, it’s tame both in narrative conception and sexual content. Seeing as how Meyer’s appeal stems from his over-the-top aesthetic, the notion of a “restrained” Meyer flick is not appealing. Running just over 70 minutes, the picture tells the story of Harry (Charles Napier), an Arizona sheriff who spends his work hours patrolling the desert by the Mexican border and spends his private hours cohabitating with voluptuous nymphet Cherry (Linda Ashton). He also works for a drug kingpin named Mr. Franklin (Frank Bolger), whose main enterprise involves smuggling weed from Mexico. Franklin tasks Harry with killing Apache (John Milo), who has stolen some of Franklin’s dope. Interspersed with this threadbare story are innumerable sexual encounters, plus weird cuts to an unnamed topless woman (Uschi Digard) wearing an elaborate Indian headdress while gyrating in various settings (e.g., splashing in a swimming pool while flailing a tennis racquet). Most Meyer movies are cheerfully chaotic thanks to an overabundance of plot, but Cherry, Harry & Raquel! suffers the opposite affliction. The paucity of narrative material invites close scrutiny, revealing that most of what happens is grotesque or nonsensical or both. As always with Meyer, the name of the game is getting well-endowed women naked, so a solid 40 percent of the running time comprises nudie shots and/or sex scenes. Most of the remainder comprises brisk but repetitive chase scenes, as well as an epic shootout during which Meyer seems to echo Sam Peckipah’s style of operatic bloodshed (minus the slow motion). Naturally, there’s some weirdly patriotic speechifying mixed into the sleaze, including the rambling text crawl about freedom of speech that opens the movie—a text crawl, it should be noted, that is superimposed over a frenetic montage of breast closeups. Oh, and for those who’ve been longing for a full-frontal nude scene featuring iron-jawed B-movie guy Napier, here’s your chance.
Cherry, Harry & Raquel!: LAME