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Ken (Harvey Korman), a photographer-for-hire, accepts an assignment by
magazine publisher Jack (William Kerwin) sight unseen, not knowing it's a
men's magazine. The real problem though is not only the content of the
magazine but the fact that Jack is a rather unstable character, a
notorious drunkard and womanizer with a commitment problem - but he has an
eye for beauty, as evidenced in his first cover model Peggy (Danica
D'Hondt), a pretty waitress he talks into posing scantily clad in front of
the camera all too easily. Peggy soon becomes the permanent covergirl for
the mag, and is dubbed the Living Venus, and Ken soon takes a
definite liking to her, but Jack has long made it a habit to sleep with
his models, and he isn't one to make an exception when it comes to his
star model - especially after he hears Ken has proposed to her. So Jack is
quick to marry her away from right under Ken's nose - and Peggy couldn't
be happier ... until Jack finds a new assignment within his magazine for
her - as promotion manager, meaning she has to "be nice to the
advertising clients." At the same time, he has Ken replaced too, by a
photographer (Lee Hauptman) more interested in his models than
One year later: Ken has moved to fashion
photography, while Peggy has become a hopeless alcoholic, as her job as
promotion manager has made her more and more the company whore, later also
a nude model ... and sales of Jack's magazine have started to slip because
he has lost his direction, and his financiers start to ditch him.
comes to a head at Jack's mag'sm 2nd anniversary party, where he threatens
to divorce newly sobered up Peggy - and she fills herself up with
champagne and drowns herself in his pool as a result. This is the last
straw for even Jack's most patient backers, who take away his magazine and
- in a twist of bitter irony - give it to Ken. At Peggy's funeral, Jack is
full of threats for all he thinks have wronged him, but these threats are
little more than empty words ...
Of course, the main selling
point of this film at the time of its release was its occasional topless
nudity (still something of a sensation in the early 1960's), carried by a
plot that promised insights into the sleaze biz - and yes, the film
delivered, and the girls were rather cute, too. But it's actually a pretty
decent low budget melodrama as well. Sure, the plot is pretty clichéed,
but the whole thing is pretty well-paced, the actors are uniformly up to
the job - with William Kerwin giving what might be the best performance of
his lifetime -, and the whole thing doesn't take itself too seriously.
all doesn't make Living Venus a masterpiece of any sort, not even
one of director Herschell Gordon Lewis' best films, but a very decent
effort when nudies were usually made with half a braincell for some quick
return at the box office (not that these are necessarily unfunny to watch
of course) ...