Monday, February 21, 2011

DVD REVIEW: Felicity (1979)

This is part five in a series of six reviewsof films featured on Umbrella Entertainment's Ozploitation Vol.3  boxset. Up next on review block is a double feature review of John D. Lamond's Austrailia After Dark (1975) and The ABC of Love and Sex (1977) 

FELICITY (1980) DVD
 from the OZPLOITATION VOLUME 3 (6-Disc Set)

Label: Umbrella Entertainment
Region Code: Region All
Duration: 90 mins
Rating: R
Director: John D. Lamond
Cast: Glory Annen, Chris Milne, Joni Flynn, Jody Hansen
Tagline: She ain't Mama's little girl no more!

Plot: Felicity (the gorgeous Glory Annen) is a sheltered teen who surrenders her blossoming body to a world of bold sexual adventure in this homegrown erotic sin-sation from sexy Ozploitation auteur John D. Lamond. From taboo-breaking pleasures at an all-girl Catholic school to wanton delights in the exotic underground of Hong Kong, come join Felicity as she finally liberates her libido in the Far East with the help of Penthouse pet and Bond girl Joni Flynn (Octopussy).Plot: Felicity (the gorgeous Glory Annen) is a sheltered teen who surrenders her blossoming body to a world of bold sexual adventure in this homegrown erotic sin-sation from sexy Ozploitation auteur John D. Lamond. From taboo-breaking pleasures at an all-girl Catholic school to wanton delights in the exotic underground of Hong Kong, come join Felicity as she finally liberates her libido in the Far East with the help of Penthouse pet and Bond girl Joni Flynn (Octopussy).

Film: My own experiences with the wonders of softcore erotica began and ended with late-night viewings of the Emmanuel films on Cinemax at far too young of an age. When my folks would retire to their room for the evening I would stealthily make my way to the family room where I would stand directly in front of the TV with the volume turned WAY down, obscuring it from view so as if my parents caught me by surprise I could snap the TV off (with my free hand) without them glimpsing what naughty nocturnal activities might have been transpiring. Our home didn't have the premium cable channels but I was somehow able to hear (not clearly see) the adult programming by holding down several buttons on the cable box in tandem. The image would appear a scrambled blur but occasionally would reveal a nipple or some other delicate part of a woman's anatomy. Pathetic, I know, but that's the unstoppable drive of adolescent sexual curiosity for you. Not coincidentally it was around this time that I discovered the answer to Rusty Griswold's question to his cousin Dale in National Lampoon's Vacation (1983), "How do you use a magazine?".... 

The softcore-cinema of late-night skinemax came and went during but a brief period of my adolescence. Shortly after I was more enamored with 80's slashers and the supernatural terrors of horror cinema which offered both blood, guts and boobs, the best of both worlds. Sex cinema fell to the wayside for many years until just this past year a blu-ray screener of Radley Metzger's Score (1972) unexpectedly came by the office and what a treat that was. I'd nearly forgotten how fun and sexy these late-70's films were. Erotic cinema like Score offered stylish adult fare that wasn't out and out sleazy like cheaply made pornography. Likewise there's Felicity (1979) directed by Aussie sexploitation pioneer John D. Lamond whom began his film career with a pair of fun shokcumentaries The ABC of Sex and Love: Australia Style (1977) and Australia After Dark (1975). His approach to erotica comes from a place of  humor, sensuality and sexiness -  not just hardcore fucking for the sake of gratification, which has it's place but this is something more all together.

The film tells the tale of the gorgeous young woman named Felicity (Glory Annen) who's coming of age in a private Catholic school where she's been quietly developing a strong sexual curiosity and has on occasion acted on these curiosities with her equally libidinous roommate. When school let's out for Summer break Felicity heads to Hong Kong where she stays with family friends. It's here that she meets a beautiful local girl named Me Ling (Joni Flynn, Octopussy) and begins to explore her overflowing sexual curiosity with numerous partners until she meets a fun photographer named Miles (Christopher Milne, Thirst). The film is equal parts erotic fairytale, Orient travelogue and a sensual coming of age story and while there's no shortage of pants-tightening titillation it is a surprisingly tender film in it's handling of sexuality and the act of sex. Lamond is a stylish director and the film is beautifully composed, particularly the shots of Hong Kong, good stuff indeed. I enjoyed the fairytale nature of the film which is enhanced not only Annen's classic beauty but by the the accompanying running narration and the loads of sex didn't hurt either. That said, this is not merely a male sex fantasy and is very much geared towards portraying Felicity as a sexually empowered young woman.

DVD: Felicity is featured on the  6-disc Ozploitation Vol. 3 set from Aussie DVD label Umbrella Entertainment. The film is presented in a 16:9 enhanced widescreen transfer with 2.0 English language audio. It's a remarkably good looking print with few blemishes to be seen. The audio while not overly impressive is adequate enough to firmly implant the film's saccharine easy listening  theme song "Mama's Little Girl No More" into your skull for weeks. From what I can tell the bonus features replicate Umbrella stand-alone disc minus the original theatrical trailer. It should be noted that this DVD can only be operated on machines capable of playing  Region 0 PAL format software.

Special Features:
- Audio commentary with Director John D. Lamond and star Glory Annen. A nice commentary as the two reminisce about their experiences on the set of the film, plenty of interesting factoids. It's a lighthearted commentary and both are in good spirits and fondly recall the film.
- Confessions of an R-Rated Movie Maker (8:10) - an interview with Lamond talking about his film and how they're viewed by the Australian elite.
- Stills and Poster Gallery - a series of 37 behind-the-scenes and promotional still.
- Umbrella Entertainment Trailers: a pleasantly lurid collection of softcore and sex comedy trailers: Laura (2:33), Emmanuel in Bangkok (1:33), Pacific Banana (2.55) and Private Lessons (1:78)

Verdict: John D. Lamond's Felicity (1979) is a fantastic example of the late-70's erotic cinema exemplified by Justin Jaeckin's Emmanuelle (1974). It's light-hearted, witty and nearly every frame is filled with gorgeous scenery and the perky beauty of star Glory Annen. A high recommend for those exploring sensual cinema. So grab your lady, a mid-range bottle of wine and let the erotic good time rolll. Classy though it may be if you're just a lonely guy looking for a  good wank spankin' good time it's that, too. 4 outta 5

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