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The Bottom Shelf #119

08.02.2007

Last week I profiled some more recent examples of sophomoric sex humour. This week, I thought I'd go retro and look at how it used to be done when I was younger and sneaking a viewing was exciting rather than humiliating when you take the DVD with the goofy cover to the counter.

CLASS (1983)
Directed by: Lewis John Carlino
Starring: Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy

-- click here to buy this DVD at Amazon.com --
-- click here to rent this movie at NetFlix.com --

There are these movies that people remember in a different light once enough years have gone by. Once some of the young actors in them have become famous for other roles and people have fun looking back and reviewing their former work. What people tend to forget is how a movie was received when it was first released. Thanks to the beauty of the internet, we can now rediscover just what a movie meant to the audience that it was released for. CLASS was a summer movie, meant to capitalize on the horny teenagers during their break from school. And while many people remember this movie fondly now, it's certainly not been shown the rerelease & updating love that other movies of its time have been given.

Maybe it's because this is a hard sell. An R rated comedy which contained its share of foul language but only a brief amount of gratuitous nudity (awesome bless a young and willing Virginia Madsen), for a movie which is based on a teenage prep student having sex with a hot older woman, the sex is brief and not as risque as most R rated movie fans are hoping to find. There is a genuine sense of love that develops by McCarthy for his sexual mentor and even more rare, there is a nearly unheard of sense of loyalty to his roommate and friend, the guy who just so happens to be the older woman's son.

CLASS really is in a class all its own. It manages to be sexy and smart while still allowing wiggle room for the stupidity of '80's comedy. What I've always liked best about it is the angle with which Rob Lowe's character was played. A teenager of privilege and wealth, he's confident but not arrogant, swaggering but not so full of false bravado that he's an asshole. Eschewing the normal story arc where the guy is a jerk spoiled by money, Lowe is actually a really nice guy who has as many faults as the next guy but is also willing to step up and assume accountability for them. Of course, it doesn't hurt that he's just so pleasant to look at. Shame he had to screw that teenager on film. Although I can't image how well received that would have been in today's media. Talk about a shift in class.

Favorite Scene:

Seeing a young Virginia Madsen's boob pop loose from her private school girl uniform.

Favorite Line:

"Next time you're feelin' sad and blue, don't expect old Skipper here to put on his big red nose and floppy shoes just pour vous. Adios, Mr Morose."

Trivia Tidbit:

This was the first film for John Cusack and not SIXTEEN CANDLES, the movie most commonly confused as being his debut flick.

See if you liked:

THE BREAKFAST CLUB, ST. ELMO'S FIRE, SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL

PRIVATE LESSONS (1981)
Directed by: Alan Myerson
Starring: Sylvia Kristel, Howard Hesseman

-- click here to buy this DVD at Amazon.com --
-- click here to rent this movie at NetFlix.com --

I can't believe that the tagline for this movie was, "What happened to him should happen to you." First of all, I don't think I need to get seduced by some cut-rate looking French robot of an actress. I've always fancied myself rather straight and Kristel just doesn't open any secret closet doors for me. Next, I'm not sure that even if I was a young male that I would be all that interested in being seduced by my housekeeper only to have to figure out how to cover up her death.

The thing about PRIVATE LESSONS that gets me is that it was another one of those movies that I have fond memories of. I recall sneaking a viewing of this flick when it aired on HBO one of those preview weekends that they used to have during the mid-'80's. The movie was oddly exciting and even a tad bit arousing in my young and inexperienced mind. Watching it again as an adult, I fought the urge to shudder and cringe to the point where I thought I was going to go into convulsions over the level of idiocy that this movie sinks to. The acting is so incredibly piss poor when it comes to the scenes where Kristel is trying to seduce Eric Brown, an actor who went on to an illustrious career as the grandson in the first couple of seasons of the television show "Mama's Family," that I'm not sure I can claim to be functionally intelligent after watching them.

BUT... and this is a major but, there are scenes at the end of the movie, while even though they include a horrific story arc where Howard Hesseman (as the limo driver) tries to convince the young lad that he's f*cked the maid to death, that are deliciously hilarious. It's all due to the fact that Hessemen and a young Ed Begley Jr appear acutely aware of the fact that this movie, this script, this director, and the other actors are so monumentally shitty that they might as well dig in and have a little fun in the crap. Despite all of its problems, this movie ultimately pulls off the one thing that most of its time were unable to do. Through its catastrophic implausibility, it remains a fuzzy fond memory in the mind of a kid who can't remember the name of her second grade teacher. It's bad, real bad. Kinda like I was back then.

Favorite Scene:

The portion of the movie where Ed Begley Jr throws himself into his role pretending to be a detective investigating the fake murder.

Favorite Line:

The reference by Begley Jr to the housekeeper being "homicided."

Trivia Tidbit:

Sylvia Kristel, an actress best known for her role as Emmanuelle in the series of movies of the same name, was in another "private" movie a couple years after this one. She played Regina Copoletta, a teacher in the movie PRIVATE SCHOOL.

See if you liked:

AMERICAN PIE, PRIVATE SCHOOL, REFORM SCHOOL GIRLS

Speaking of PRIVATE SCHOOL, I think I'm going to need to watch FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH again. Phoebe Cates was truly one of America's greatest treasures. Thank Awesome for celluloid preservation.

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