Felicity (1979)

Ah, the good old days. Remember the times when sleazy, middle-aged men could walk into a bar, find a beautiful, teenage girl sitting on her own and utter with any hope, "wanna mess around?" Of course, the nubile young nymph instantly agrees, and off they go to enter a carnal wonderland somewhere else. Don't remember that scenario being commonplace? Can't say I do, but I still enjoyed the lascivious, probably male-only fantasy that is the Australian soft-focus, softcore classic, Felicity. The Aussies weren't bad at quality sleaze in the seventies, with examples such as Alvin Purple, Pacific Banana and Fantasm making quite good examples of the genre. Now I'll happily add Felicity to this oeuvre. It's also refreshing to see natural bodies on display rather than the flesh-encased silicon puppets that modern softcore seems to revel in. An obviously large(ish) budget and high production standards help propel Felicity beyond forgotten trash as well.

Schoolgirl Felicity Robinson (Glory Annen) is attending finishing studies at some sort of isolated convent/boarding school, I assume in Australia somewhere. On a couple of databases, Annen is listed as being actually twenty-seven when playing this part, but her petite frame and young-looking face pass for teenage pretty well. It's only in extreme closeup that we can see that the 'bloom of youth' is perhaps leaving her. Anyway, Felicity's sexuality is blossoming, and she's yearning for a first sexual encounter. She reads seminal sexual works like Emmanuelle, The Story of O and Fear of Flying, and is obviously influenced by them. With no males around, Felicity begins her sexual journey with some lesbian experiences with her cuddly school chum, Jenny (Jody Hansen). Of course, we're treated to lots of shower scenes during this section of the film. Felicity begins to enjoy being ogled in the nude by the gardener (director John Lamond), and young boys while she and Jenny take a skinny-dip. Still, it's not enough, and the well-spoken Felicity wants to throw herself completely into sex.

New experiences beckon when her father - who we never see - writes to Felicity and offers her a trip to Hong Kong, to stay with her aunt, Christine (Marilyn Rodgers), and her husband Stephen (Gordon Charles). Felicity is thrilled, but says to Jenny she'll miss her. On the flight over, she spots a couple joining the mile-high club which feeds her fantasies even more. When she actually meets Christine and Stephen in exciting Hong Kong, she finds they're a pretty free thinking couple. Felicity spies on them making love and later confesses to Christine her jealousy and yearnings. Christine doesn't mind. We see Felicity enjoying being spied on in the nude, and in the bath, by Stephen, although nothing actually happens between them. Wanting to help her on her sexual quest, Christine takes Felicity to a lingerie store run by the effeminate Adrian (Aussie celebrity, John Michael-Howson), who goes into sexual raptures as Felicity tries on all sorts of knickers and bras. Sometime later, Christine takes Felicity to a party. She runs into the boorish, moustachioed Andrew (David Bradshaw) who asks to take Felicity for a drive. Nervous but somehow excited, Felicity agrees. Later in the night, he asks her to removie her panties, then asks her out of the car. Passively, almost as if by remote control, Felicity complies. Andrew takes her, there and then, on the bonnet of the car. It's painful, clothed and quick, a complete dissapointment for the once wide-eyed girl. Christine later explains that it will all get better with time, and more importantly, with other men.

Christine introduces her to a friend, Me Ling (an only vaguely asian-looking Joni Flynn) who takes her on a tour of the seedy side of Hong Kong. Me Ling then takes her to a huge houseboat which is actually a floating brothel where Me Ling occassionally works. Felicity agrees to be pleasured by some of the girls and she and Me Ling are stripped, oiled up and fondled by some of the working girls. On another night she spots Me Ling servicing one of her customers and is turned on - enough to allow the guy creeping up behind her to take her from behind. So we can see Felicity's sexual education is proceeding apace. Sometime later, Felicity is walking the streets when three guys attempt to grab her. She narrowly escapes as a fellow young Australian expatriate, Miles (Chris Milne) rides past on his bike and offers help. It turns out Miles is rotten drunk, and passes out once he and Felicity get to his apartment. He's happy to discover her the next day next to him, and the two hit it off instantly. Felicity wants to have sex straight away, but as Miles says to her in a restaurant, strangely given his womanising reputation, he wants to take his time and get to know the girl. Soon enough though, they're having passionate, straightforward sex in quite an erotic scene. The randy couple are soon having sex on buses, in lifts and at sex cinemas. Then Miles - a photographer - lets Felicity know that he has to go on a remote job for three weeks. Felicity seems to accept this, but when she returns to Me Ling she allows herself to be distraught.

Back with Me Ling, the two have a sexual experience to comfort Felicity. Desperate for some attention, she conscripts Me Ling to help her find Miles early. They travel to the island where Miles is working. Tearfully, Felicity admits to Me ling that she already knows where Miles is. We can only assume that she's spotted Miles being unfaithful at some point because later, sitting in a bar, Felicity allows herself to be picked up by the middle-aged bartender, who, as I mentioned in my introduction, uses the irresistable - and successful - come-on of "wanna mess around?". I'l have to try that one myself sometime. We don't see their encounter but Felicity later tells Me Ling it was very erotic, but emotionless.

Whatever Felicity saw and experienced, she still wants to find Miles. She searches high and low, and finally finds him under a mosquito-net in a dingy beach-hut. Miles claims to have been bitten by a snake and recovering. I'm not sure what the purpose of the snake-bite is other than to make Miles become someone our heroine needs to care for, for a while. As Miles recovers more over the days, they both confess they haven't exactly been faithful for the last three weeks. Will they part company at this point, or accept their dalliances in these swinging seventies, and walk hand in hand, naked on the beach and into the sunset? There's an interesting final comment that hints at future sexual conquests in store, but I'd better not give too much away.

With it's naive and very-willing doe-eyed protagonist, Felicity probably fulfilled a lot of male fantasies back in the day. Maybe even a few female ones, who knows. The idea of a teenage - we're never told her exact age - girl who just wants to explore sex and will have it with virtually anyone, except rapists, has long been the mainstay of porn and softcore. If we wanted to delve deeply into motivations in this type of cinema, we could possibly pick that Felicity's absence of parental influence - we never even hear about a mother - may have something to due with her sexual recklessness and naivity, but let's get real. And of course, STDs and unintended pregnancy aren't an issue in our soft-focus sexual dreamworld, in fact don't even exist in it. The petite Glory Annen as Felicity does well in her role, although the way she holds herself and moves, sometimes betrays her age. It's not a big issue, though, we can still enjoy 'the story', and I must admit I do find this film genuinely erotic. Annen virtually carries the film, and most of the other characters are only walk-ons, with only the slightly-weaselly Chris Milne as her main lover Miles, sharing much screen time. Still, he doesn't ruin the proceedings, and actually comes over as a real person, not just a softcore stud to bring hetero sex to the screen. Joni Flynn as Me Ling looks lovely and exotic, but her delivery of lines is pretty wooden, I suppose this wasn't a big problem with her often nude scenes taking centre stage. Director John D. Lamond obviously loves Hong Kong as much as his girls, and we're shown a lot of glitzy locations, seedy streets, rural areas and down-and-out slums.

A gloriously insistent seventies soundtrack - withFelicity's theme song by Linda George, 'Mama's little girl no more' heard often throughout, completes the picture of an erotic little time-capsule. You shouldn't need to be a film historian to get something out of Felicity. Suspend the realism and expectations of 2008, allow yourself to get into the sexual groove of an entertainment from a more permissive and experimental era, and you may have quite a good time with Felicity's sensual journey.

© Boris Lugosi, 2008.

Home | Email