Thursday, March 24, 2016

FELICITY (1978) (Blu-ray Review)

FELICITY (1978) 
Label: Severin Film 
Release Date: March 29th 2016 
Rating: Unrated 
Region Code: Region-FREE
Duration: 94 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Mono 2.0 
Video: 080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: John D. Lamond
Cast: Glory Annen, Chris Milne, Joni Flynn, Jody Hansen, Marilyn Rogers, John Michael Howson, Gordon Charles

Synopsis: She ain’t mama’s little girl no more! The luscious Glory Annen stars as Felicity Robinson, a sheltered teen who surrenders her blossoming body to a world of bold sexual adventure. From her forbidden pleasures at an all-girl school in England to wanton hungers in the exotic underground of Hong Kong, Felicity finds herself deflowered, defiled and ultimately delighted by the shame and ecstasy of a libido unleashed. Penthouse model Joni Flynn co-stars in this notorious erotic odyssey that defined a generation of horny young men… and quite a few women, too!

When I was a young kid my folks would retire to their room for the evening around nine or so and 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 in such a way that if my parents caught me by surprise I could snap the TV off (with my free hand natch) without them seeing what naughty act of self discovery might have been transpiring. Our home didn't have the cool premium cable channels but I was somehow able to hear (not clearly see mind you) the adult programming on skinemax and other adult channels by holding down several buttons on the cable box in tandem. The image would appear a scrambled but occasionally the screen would reveal a delightful nipple or some other delicate part of a woman's anatomy -- the stiff of adolescent masturbation fantasies. Writing this now this I understand how this all sounds perfectly pathetic, but that is the way of 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 in National Lampoon's Vacation (1983), "How do you use a magazine?"....  

My nightly exploration of scrambled cable softcore-cinema came and went but during a brief period of my adolescence after one too many close encounters threatened to catch me red-handed. Shortly after I was more enraptured by the cycle of early 80's slashers and the supernatural terrors of horror cinema which offered both gore and nude women, which was the truly best of both worlds. Afterward I was never too deep into dirty movies, that was until I started blogging about movies and I came across a copy of Radley Metzger's Score (1972), a very fine slice of pant-swelling erotic cinema, the movie offered stylish adult fare that was erotic but somehow far less sleazy than a typical porno. Likewise there was Felicity (1979) directed by Aussie sexploitation pioneer John D. Lamond whom began his film career with a pair of fun and kinky shockumentaries 'The ABC of Sex' and Love and Sex' (1977) and 'Australia After Dark (1975)' -- both of which are included on this disc as sweet bonus features. His approach to erotica comes from a place of humor, sensuality and sexiness -  not just hardcore fucking for the sake of coming, which of course has a place, but this is something more than just that, this is a fun and kinky slice of coming of age. 

Felicity 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 whom on occasion has acted on these curiosities with her equally libidinous roommate. When school lets out for Summer break Felicity travels to Hong Kong where she stays with friends of her family. It's here that she befriends a beautiful local girl named Me Ling (Joni Flynn, Octopussy) and begins to explore her overflowing sexual curiosity with her and numerous partners until she meets a fun photographer named Miles (Christopher Milne, Thirst). The story is equal parts erotic fairytale, Orient travelogue and a sensual coming of age story with no shortage of pants-tightening tension, it is also a surprisingly tender film in terms of sexuality and love making. Lamond is a stylish director and the film is beautifully composed, particularly the shots of Hong Kong, good stuff indeed. I enjoyed the fairytale atmosphere which is enhanced the story, plus Glory Annen's classic beauty and the loads of onscreen 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. 

Audio/Video: The unrated director's cut of Felicity arrives on Blu-ray from Severin Films framed (1.85:1) widescreen in sweet 1080p HD. The source used for the HD transfer is in remarkably good shape with very few instances of print damage. The English DTS-HD MA Mono does the job nicely, dialogue, soft sex cooing and the score are nicely balanced and clean, it will also firmly implant the saccharine sweetness of the main theme song "Mama's Little Girl No More" into your skull for weeks. 

Severin have packed this sucker full of awesome bonus content, including two of John D. Lamond's earlier movies; The ABCs of Love And Sex and Australia After Dark, both which feature  audio commentary by Producer/Director John D. Lamond and Director Mark Hartley (Not Quite Hollywood). Both movies are presented in standard-def and have been previously issued on DVD by Intervision Picture Corp. There's also a commentary for the main feature Felicity with Lamond and Annen which covers a lot of ground about the making of it, their views on hardcore and softcore cinema, censorship and the locations used in the movie. 

Additionally there's about an hour's worth of outtakes from Hal Hartley's Not Quite Hollywood doc, featuring interviews with Glory Annen, director John D. Lamond and Cinematographer Garry Wapshott. Lamond is always a character and here he's interviewed while a young woman works a stripper pole in the background. Star Glory Annen appears and shares stories of how she landed the role, working with Lamond and watching this movie in the cinema with her mom and grandmother!  
The disc also features a John D. Lamond trailer reel including his movies Nightmares, The ABCs of Love and Sex, Felicity, Pacific Banana, Breakfast in Paris, and Sky Pirates.

Special Features: 

- Bonus Feature Film! 'The ABCs of Love and Sex' (1978) (85 Mins) with audio commentary by Producer/Director John D. Lamond and director Mark Hartley (Not Quite Hollywood) 
- Bonus Feature Film! 'Australia After Dark' (1975) (82 Mins) with audio commentary by Producer/Director John D. Lamond and director Mark Hartley (Not Quite Hollywood) 
- Audio commentary on 'Felicity' 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. 
- Not Quite Hollywood Out-takes with Actress Glory Annen, Director John d. Lamond and Cinematographer Garry Wapshott (59 Mins) 
- John D. Lamond Trailer Reel (18 Mins) 

Verdict: John D. Lamond's Felicity (1978) is a fantastic example of the late-70's erotic cinema. that manages to be a turn-on, 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, Severin new Blu-ray is the definitive version of the movie and packed with great bonus content. 4/5