MAINSTREAM FILMS

PRIVATE LESSONS

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I’m going to kick off the month of April with a flashback to this classic 1980’s film.

Well, okay, maybe “classic” is a bit of a stretch…but it’s certainly a cult classic.

This was released in August 1981, and may very well be the first of a string a similar films that would be released throughout the decade (including MY TUTOR and THE BIG BET, among man others). Known as teen sex comedies, such films usually revolved around teenage boys trying to get laid, often by an older adult woman. If the boys succeeded, this was considered a good thing for them, despite the real world legal implications. As you can see by the above image, this film’s tagline was “What Happened To Him Should Happen To You”

Written by Dan Greenburg and directed by Alan Myerson, this film stars Eric Brown as 15 year old Phillip Fillmore. Everyone just calls him “Philly”, a nickname for Phillip that I have never heard anyone use in real life. Philly lives with his wealthy father (his mother is deceased) in a rather large mansion. As the film opens, school has just let out for the summer, and Philly’s father is leaving on a business trip for 3 weeks, living Philly alone with the servants, including a gardeners, a chauffeur, and a maid. Sylvia Kristel is Nicole Mallow, the recently hired housekeeper. Her age is never specified, but while talking with his friend and neighbor Sherman (Patrick Piccininni) Philly guesses that she’s around 25 or 30 (for the record, Kristel was 29 when this film was released).

Howard Hesseman plays Lester, the chauffeur. Both Philly and Sherman derisively refer to him as “Lester The Fruit” behind his back. Lester most definitely gives off a creepy vibe throughout the film. As soon as Philly’s father is gone, Lester starts treating Philly with contempt. And very quickly we see Lester and Nicole plotting together, as Lester insists that Nicole seduce Philly and have sex with him, although Nicole is initially reluctant, due to Philly’s young age. And that is the plot for the much of the rest of the film, Nicole’s attempts to subtly seduce Philly, which surprisingly proves to be a bit more difficult than you’d expect from a typical 15-year old boy.

It’s not that Philly isn’t attracted to Nicole, it’s clear that it is. We see several attempts by him to peak through Nicole’s bedroom and watch her undress. One night she catches him and invites him into the room, and then proceeds to strip off all of her clothes. She offers to let him touch her bare breasts but he’s too nervous and declines. And then when she’s finally fully nude, Philly runs out of the room, despite Nicole’s offer to let him stay, and races on his bike over to Sherman’s house to tell him about it.

This is within the first half hour of the film, and already it’s lost all credibility. As Sherman says “Are you kidding me?!?” What 15 year old boy wouldn’t have stuck around?

The next night, Nicole is taking a bubble bath and invites Philly to join her in the tub. So Philly accepts, but he changes into a pair of swimming trucks first (he’s afraid to take them off). Then he gets into the tub, sitting with his back to her. Nicole starts washing his back, then starts kissing his neck, Philly turns his head to kiss her on the lips. Then she entices him to take his shorts off, which he agrees to do after turning off the lights. So he slips his trucks off and then Nicole moves her hands around in front, apparently touching his penis, to which Philly quickly jumps out of the tub and puts a robe on. But Nicole jumps out too and puts a towel on tries to stop him. Philly says he has to go to bed now, and Nicole asks him to sleep with her, but Philly says you can’t good night’s sleep with someone sharing the same bunk. So she asks him for a goodnight kiss and when he pecks her on the cheek she gives him a bigger kiss on the lips, then starts kissing down his neck and chest, but then Philly runs out of the room.

Again, this is nuts. Sherman against reacts with disbelief when Philly tells him the next day. As would I.

Next we see Philly and Nicole out at a movie theater together. As Lester drives them home in the limo, Philly and Nicole start kissing in the back seat, and Philly raises the divider when notices Lester watching them. Back home, Philly and Lester go into Nicole’s bedroom and she kisses him, and he asks if they’re going to…”you know?” She asks if he wants to and he says yes but he doesn’t know how, and she says she can teach him. But then Philly starts saying that he doesn’t think she’s a “whore or anything” and that he’s willing to marry her, and says he loves her. Nicole it taken aback by that, and Philly gets mad, thinking that she’s making fun of him as some stupid little kid, and he storms out of the room.

Once again, we see Sherman as the voice of the audience, calling Philly crazy when he hears about this the next day.

Then there’s a montage as an unspecified amount of time passes, where we see Philly avoiding Nicole at home. Finally he comes to her and apologizes for the way he’s been acting, and she suggests that they “go steady.” That night they get dressed up (Philly in a suit and tie) and have Lester take them to a fancy restaurant for dinner, and then they come and finally have sex.

And that’s where the scam with Lester begins. The next day Nicole pretends that she’s dead, Philly assumes that her heart gave out after the sex (earlier in the film, Lester had told Philly that Nicole had a weak heart and therefor couldn’t get too “excited”) and Lester agree to help him bury her body in the backyard and not tell anyone. The next day, the grave has been dug up, and Philly and Lester get a note from “someone” demanding $10,000 in exchange for the body. Philly is able to get the money from his father’s house safe. But then Nicole confesses to Philly that the only reason she went along with this scheme is because she’s an illegal immigrant and Lester was blackmailing her. Then together the come up with a plan to expose Lester and get the money back.

I won’t “spoil” the ending, but it is resolved, and then Nicole moves away. Sherman goes back to school when Summer is over, with newfound confidence, even asking out one of his adult teachers on a date…

I don’t even know where to begin with this film. First, as I’ve pointed out, Philly’s reactions to Nicole, specifically his hesitance to have sex, aren’t very realistic. This “scheme” should have taken like 15 minutes. But I know they had to drag it out in order to fill a whole movies. But, really, how about this premise? An adult woman seducing a young boy. 15 years old. 15! I can’t imagine this film being made today, at least not as any type of “comedy.” And the worst part is, even though actor Eric Brown was 16 when this film was released, and turned 17 just a few months later, he looks like he’s maybe 14, at most. So in the various intimate scenes with Kristel, it really does look like she’s molesting a child. It’s fairly creepy.

Still, I guess I can’t deny that it’s well-shot and the cast are all very good. So it has it’s merits. And, y’know, even though in my opinion, Sylvia Kristel is what I would call traditionally sexy, she does have a certain sex appeal that is just undeniable. It’s easy to see how she became this erotic icon back then. Chacebook rating: 4 STARS

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