Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Tomboy (1983)

is a tidy little package. In an effort to get her frenemy Jeff (Tom Byron) to stop busting her chops about being a virgin, titular tomboy Jan (Melanie Scott) claims to be having an ongoing sexual relationship with mutual friend - and Mr. Popular - Alex (Steve Douglas). Jeff doesn't buy it, but Jan's able to convince Alex to go along with the ruse, including pretending to have sex (while reading from an erotic novel) as Jeff eavesdrops from outside Jan's bedroom window.

Wouldn't you know it, though, Jan actually does lose her virginity to Alex and finally finds out why so many people are fixated on sex.

The theme of sexual awakening is furthered by having Jan's brother Ted (Marc Wallice), also a virgin, shown the ways of love by a friend of their mother's (aptly named "Mrs. Robinson" and played by the inimitable Kay Parker)...

...as well as Jan's masturbatory self-discovery and a lesbian dream sequence (featuring Scott, Rosemarie, and Karen Summer) in which Jan's searching for her "lost" virginity.

Since the dream came right after she masturbated - presumably for the first time - while being peeped on by Jeff (knowing she was being watched, but pretending not to) as he jerked himself off, I wonder if she equated being able to turn a man on with a degree of sexual maturity, and thereby not technically being a virgin. Jan mused to herself and others multiple times throughout whether men did (or could) get hard thinking about her, so it was obviously pretty important. Additionally, the only sex we're sure Jeff has had is with his cousin (Laurien Wilde). They don't dwell on it, but the idea of sexual experimentation among cousins (especially initial experimentation) sure isn't foreign to our culture, broadly, or porn, specifically.

There were a few elements, narrative and technical, that could have been cleaned up. The Ted/Mrs. Robinson scene had a tonal whiplash. Accidentally walking in on Ted getting out of the shower, Mrs. Robinson's so flustered, she has to down a half-pint of gin and then attacks embarrassed Ted as a sex-crazed maniac. After he begs her to stop, she apologizes and explains that it's been ages since she's been with a man. Then, while Ted's consoling her, he sheepishly admits he's never been with a woman before, and then she assumes the role of sexual mentor. Rather than the ping pong-ing roles, it would have benefited from a more straightforward approach. (Although, I guess to play my own devil's advocate, maybe this was a truer representation of the conflicting feelings two people might have in a situation like this.)

Similarly, Alex's thoughts and feelings for Jan are a little muddled. When she first asks him to help her convince Jeff they're fucking, he says that if it was up to him, she'd have lost her virginity already. But then later, he claims that he'd never thought of her sexually. (Devil's advocating again, I suppose even though he directly contradicted himself, saying he'd only ever thought of her platonically could have been a misdirect considering he admitted after they had sex that he'd made up having a date later on that evening, planning to stay with Jan.)

The main issue with the film, though, was that Melanie Scott could not act. At all. Despite her wooden performance, there were some lines and scenes that were amusing to outright funny and I can only imagine how much they'd have improved with an actor that was even moderately capable. Off the top of my head, I "dream cast" Tara Aire (who's a good to great actor) or Renee Summers (who appeared in director Howard Christian's next - and final - film, Loose Times at Ridley High). Initially, I thought Rikki Blake since she has a square jawline similar to Melanie Scott - which sort of added to the tomboy-ish nature of character - but her career didn't begin until the year after Tomboy was released.

Let's check Roh-baire Ree-mair's opinion:

Melanie and Doug are a very attractive couple, and as a matter of fact, so is everyone else who appears in this happy-go-lucky story....

Rimmer's "review" is a brief recap of the plot without any glaring errors (I won't ding him for calling Steve Douglas "Doug" since the credits were all over the place, accuracy-wise). He doesn't clarify what makes the film a "Collector's Choice" or offer a reason that women may like it (as he's so often wont to do), so I can't address his entry, really, one way or another. I signed off my Rendezvous with Anne post hoping that I enjoyed the next film more than I did that one. And I did. While Scott's performance in Tomboy was worse than any in Rendezvous, literally everyone else in Tomboy was lightyears better. As is so often the case, a few tweaks here or there could have actually put Tomboy in CC25 territory, but as it is, I'll give it a CC100.

° Jeff calling his cousin's breasts "living footballs" is an all-timer.

° There was a subtle, but noteworthy, emphasis on female pleasure. In her second hardcore scene after opening with a blowjob, Laurien Wilde mounts Klaus Multia's face saying, "You're not going to cheat me. I want you to make a few 'runs around the field' before I let you make a 'touchdown'." Then, Ted's lesson with Mrs. Robinson begins with her instructing him on all of her "sensitive parts." And, of course, there was ample time focused on Jan exploring her own sensitive parts.


Next up:

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Rendezvous With Anne (1973)

When Anne Stewart is paged at an airport, three women named "Anne Stewart" meet at the counter. (Well, technically, four: the last Anne to show up, a grandmother, was the one the desk agent was trying to reach.) Struck by the coincidence of their names, they decide to get some coffee and they discuss their reasons for visiting San Francisco and agree to meet again two weeks later at the end of their trips.

It's a fine premise, but is dragged down by poor pacing, C- (charitably) student film-level direction, and acting that smacked of the first meeting of an Improv 101 class. Lisa Troy (who also sang the earworm of a theme song) was the best of the lot. Keri Carpenter started, stopped, and redirected the way a four year old tells a story. And Cazander Zim (what a name!) had the awkward, outsider delivery of a character in the world of Tim & Eric.

Each of the Anne Stewarts has her own arc: Lisa Troy's connects with an old lover, Keri Carpenter's loses her virginal innocence, and Cazander Zim's (seriously, what a name!) comes to terms with her husband's infidelity by tapping into her own sexuality.

The hardcore is relatively well integrated, and mostly noteworthy because the scenes are definitely not simulated and yet there isn't a cumshot to be found in the entire film. I don't think I've ever seen an adult film fitting that criteria. While the action overall is pedestrian at best, two scenes are worth mentioning: Lisa Troy's first scene, with a man she met in an art gallery after his homosexual lover broke up with him. The two do some day drinking, discuss his failed attempt at a heterosexual relationship, take a nap, and screw. The brief discussion of sexuality and masculinity was impressively nuanced and the actors were able to capture the feeling of taking a buzzed mid-afternoon nap and the awkward excitement of a first time together in bed.

The other was Keri Carpenter's post-deflowering girl/girl encounter. The film school experimentation worked out, with the audio of Carpenter explaining the sensations of building to and achieving orgasm she experienced when her first-time lover taught her how her clit worked playing under the women getting it on.

The goofy ernestness and unintentionally funny moments kept reminding me of The Room. So much so, I started to think of co-writer, producer, and director Lowell Pickett as a 1970s porn Tommy Wisseau.

Whether or not that's accurate at all, Pickett's a fascinating character and The Rialto Report's piece on him (and Arlene Elster) is worth a read.

Let's see what Robert Rimmer had to say:

It is a small classic of the genre. All of the one-to-one sex scenes are friendly, conversational and caring.... Women will like it - the female dialogue is believable and the women are prettily average.

Excepting that backhanded compliment at the end, I get where he's coming from. As far as errors, Rimmer refers to the girl/girl scene I mentioned above as being "between two of the Annes" whereas there was only one Anne (Carpenter) involved.

If the acting was better or if I hadn't watched it after three consecutive top-tier films, I may have been more charitable with it. Since that's not the case, though, I'm going to have to rate it a CC250, not coincidentally right in league with Thoroughly Amorous Amy.

° I really dig the word "orgiers":

° The only actors with double digit performer credits appear in that orgy: Valerie Franklin, Ken Scudder, and Valerie Franklin (who, herself, only had 12 flicks in her filmography). As far as the Annes, Rendezvous with was Troy's and Carpenter's only film, and Zim only appeared in two others (one of which was another Lowell Pickett picture).


Next in line (which I sure hope I enjoy more than this film...):