Nuts!, documentary filmmaker Penny Lane’s latest venture, is the kind of movie that needs to be seen to be believed. People say that about a lot of movies, or a lot of television shows, or performances, or whatever, and in most cases they’re just saying it to say it. In the case of Nuts!, it’s 100% accurate: Lane’s film tells the story of John Romulus Brinkley, a quack doctor who in the early 1900s began scamming impotent men by transplanting goat testicles into them. Thanks to historical documents, truth, and common sense, we know that this didn’t work, but his patients claimed it did, even though they knew it didn’t.
Now that’s a huckster! Brinkley was a genius at his craft, so of course Lane found him compelling enough to make a feature about him. When I spoke with her on behalf of Paste Magazine, we chatted about Brinkley’s salesmanship and his inherent humanity, how documentary filmmakers are like con artists (on a scale!), and numerous other things, so at this point you’d best address that hyperlink.