Combustible Celluloid
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With: Lynn Lowry, Claire Wilbur, Calvin Culver, Gerald Grant, Carl Parker
Written by: Jerry Douglas, based on his play
Directed by: Radley Metzger
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 91
Date: 02/28/1974

Score (1973)

3 Stars (out of 4)

That Swing You Do

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Radley Metzger is widely acknowledged as one of America's greatest erotic filmmakers, which basically means that he's more serious than Russ Meyer and more artful than most porn. Metzger is perhaps best known for Camille 2000 (1969), The Lickerish Quartet (1970), The Opening of Misty Beethoven (1975), and Score, which has been newly released on Blu-Ray for 2010.

Adapted by Jerry Douglas from his own play, Score features four main characters, plus a fifth supporting character. It takes place over a weekend in a fictitious European city. A "swinging" couple, Elvira (Claire Wilbur) and Jack (Gerald Grant) have a running contest to see who can seduce more members of the same sex. They lure other couples over for dinner, and Elvira sleeps with the woman, while Jack sleeps with the man. Their latest victims are newly married Eddie (Casey Donovan) and Betsy (Lynn Lowry), who are already having troubles in bed.

Metzger spends most of the running time on the slow seduction process, complete with drugs and little games to get the couple to relax. He gradually builds to an erotic frenzy, cutting back and forth between the female couple and the male couple as sexual energy grows and their acts become more and more intimate. I saw the uncut, 91-minute version, which features nearly hardcore sex acts, fellatio between the men, etc.

The camera rarely looks head-on at the naked bodies, but rather tries to spy at them past objects in the foreground, or in reflections; this increases the forbidden quality and heightens the tension. The fifth character is Mike (Carl Parker), the phone repairman; Elvira seduces him -- in front of Betsy -- in the first few moments, and he returns at the end of the weekend for more action. The most notable thing about Mike is that (apparently) Sylvester Stallone played him in the off-Broadway version.

However, the most interesting thing about Score -- aside from the fact that it's a gorgeous and effective work of erotica -- is Lynn Lowry. Very pretty in an unusual way, Lowry had huge eyes and a thin, turned-up nose, and a slightly feline, pixie-ish aura. She wound up playing in mostly exploitation films, including George A. Romero's The Crazies and David Cronenberg's Shivers, and continues to have a cult following today. She's fascinating onscreen, waging an almost constant battle between beauty and savagery.

Cult Epics released the new Blu-Ray, and it's also available in the edited version, if anyone cares. Metzger provides a commentary track (moderated by Michael Bowen), footage from the set, a featurette about Lowry, and trailers.

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