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.


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