Thursday, November 4, 2010

Blu-ray Review: Score (1972)

Radley Metzger's
SCORE (1972)

Cult Epics

RATED: Unrated
DIRECTOR: Radley Metzger
CAST: Claire Wilbur (Elvira), Lynn Lowry (Betsy), Calvin Culver (Eddie), Gerald Grant (Jack), Carl Parker (Mike)
TAGLINE: A Feast for the Erotic Gourmet

SUMMARY: Score is the tale of a happily married swinging couple who make a bet that they can seduce a couple of naive young newlyweds during a weekend get-together at their luxury Riviera villa.

FILM: I've seen only a handful of skin flicks and porno in my time, what can I say? I'm a bit sheltered in the ways of erotic-cinema. Score is a film by the legendary high-class erotica filmmaker Radley Metzger and is an adaptation of the 1971 Jerry Douglass play by the same that co-starred a 25-year-old Italian stallion by the name of Sylvester Stallone. The opening narrative sets the film up as a playful, erotic fairytale and the atmosphere is light-hearted and fun, it's a very farcical comedy at it's heart. The artful lensing and snappy dialogue made me forget this was a softcore film. Metzger's direction and gorgeous cinematography was superb and not being a connoisseur of erotic cinema I was pleasantly surprised by how stylish the film looked. Jack (Gerald Grant) and Elvira (Claire Wilbur) are a couple of fun-loving bi-sexual swingers in the French Riviera. Their relationship is defined by swinging parties and a friendly game of sexual one upsmanship between each other. After a night of orgiastic activities the couple make a bet amongst themselves. Each is betting they can seduce their same-sex counterparts in a newlywed couple of Betsy (Lynn Lowry) and Eddie (Calvin Culver).

Jack and Elvira come of as experienced and cunning swingers skilled in the art of seduction. Betsy and Eddie ...not so much. Betsy is a super-attractive, bright-eyed beauty, a bit naive as well. Her husband Eddie is a handsome young man and seems a bit on the bent-side of things. When the couple is introduced it is evident that they are having some intimacy difficulties in the bedroom....hmmmmm, I wonder what the problem is? Elvira and Jack have no such issues and their libidos are in full bloom throughout the film.

The interplay among the characters is well-crafted and fun to watch, very comedic stuff full of colorful dialogue and witty remarks, the characters are well formed and defined. The story is not the stuff of  Shakespeare but it's whimsical and a fun watch as the storyline plays out. Be forewarned that the this is truly an erotic film that caters to all persuasions. But fear not, there are no graphic depictions of male-on-male penetration but it's pretty close, so just be informed. The sex scenes are filmed stylishly and look great. This is not sex on the screen soley for the sake of sex on the screen, it's intimate, fun and playful.

For me, the true finds in this film were director Radley Metzger and star Lynn Lowry. I'm looking forward to further exploring his filmography, and not soley for their intrinsic prurient value either. Lynn Lowry previously appeared in George A. Romero's undervalued plague film The Crazies (1972) as well as Lloyd Kaufman's softcore film Sugar Cookies (1973). She later went on to appear in David Cronenberg's Shivers (1975) and Paul Schrader's remake of the Val Lewton's classic Cat People (1982). She is a true beauty and is still appearing in film today including the remake of The Crazies and a few obscure indie titles Torture Chamber and Psychosomatika, all from this past year.

BLU-RAY: Cult Epics has put some care into this Blu-ray. It's a new, restored high definition anamorphic transfer in full 1080p HD. Presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.78:1.  It simply looks great, the print is not perfect but the transfer is especially stunning when compared to the unrestored clips of the film in the trailers and the "On the Set of Score" featurette. This release also marks the films debut in it's uncensored, uncut version that included seven minutes of additional erotic content. The audio is not so prestigious however as only the original English language 2.0 Dolby Digital mono soundtrack is included. A stereo mix would have been great, the soundtrack is pretty decent. No English subtitles are provided.

Special Features- On the Set of Score Featurette (18:27)
- Keeping Score with Lynn Lowry (19:35)
- Audio Commentary Track by Radley Metzger and film historian Michael Brown.
- Trailers: Score (3:38) Camille 2000 (2:16) The Lickerish Quartet (2:45)

The special features are very good. The On the Set of Score featurette is very interesting. Having known nothing of Radley Metzger or his films it was brief and illuminating look at the making of the films and his interactions with the cast. I particularly enjoyed the Keeping Score with Lynn Lowry, a 20 min. interview where she reflects on the film, her experiences on-set and her relationships with her co-stars and her difficulties with co-star Claire Wilbur.

VERDICT:  I was caught off guard how well crafted Score is. It's playful execution and artful style won me over. My first order of business must be to rewatch all those Lynn Lowry films I have, what a gorgeous woman. Secondly, I'll be looking into Metzger's filmography. If you are looking for some whimsical erotic cinema that looks great on Blu-ray I highly recommend Score. ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5 stars)