Score (1973)

Ah, those swinging seventies. Now, don't you wish you were in the room with these people? What a party, eh? Well, we can all get a taste of such a thing with director Radley Metzger's Score. From the very first moments we're enveloped in a pure fantasy, our unnamed female narrator telling us all about the beautiful canal-filled town called 'Leisure', where all sorts of licentious things happen. We meet Elvira (Claire Wilbur) and Jack (Gerald Grant) two swingers who are constantly planning and plotting their next sexual conquests. They keep constant 'score' of their little affairs too, and Elvira seems to have the upper hand. They'd just had an eventful night with a couple they found through the newspapers, but they're getting bored with easy wins. Both bisexual, Elvira bets she can seduce the newly wedded Betsy (Lynn Lowry) whom she's just met, who just happens to be married to a handsome man named Eddie (Calvin Culver). The new deal is this - if she can't seduce Betsy within a time limit, Jack then gets a try at the blonde Eddie.

With Jack and Eddie at work, the doe-eyed Betsy visits her new friend Elvira. Elvira admits their swinging lifestyle and drug-taking - and Betsy is repulsed but fascinated. Due to Elvira's earlier sabotage of the phone, Mike the telephone repair man arrives (Carl Parker from The Punishment of Anne) and Betsy is shocked - but doesn't leave and actually takes a picture - when Elvira has spontaneous sex with him in front of her. Later the confused Betsy admits to feeling still like a Catholic schoolgirl at heart. Elvira tells a story about Jack, about how just before their marriage, he said he would "screw a porcupine" if he had a mind to. Elvira says that she eventually came around to her husband's ways. That night, Elvira, Jack and Eddie get together, and eventually Betsy reluctantly shows up, dressed in a very dowdy outfit. As inhibitions falter, they all get high on pot, with Betsy shocked at Eddie's revelation at having tried it before. Jack and Elvira pull out a trunk of costumes, and persuade Betsy and Eddie that they should play dress-ups. Jack wears a sailor-suit and Betsy wears a next-to-nothing negligee. Betsy's shocked when Elvira's costume turns out to be a Nun's outfit, but with nothing underneath. Eventually the reluctant Eddie puts on a cowboy costume.

As the night progresses, both Eddie and Betsy admit to being dissatisfied. Betsy can't believe herself when she says 'Fuck' for the very first time. Jack tells Eddie the same porcupine story, only making out it was Elvira who said that before their marriage. Towards the end of the night Elvira and Betsy go upstairs to her bedroom, Jack and Eddy end up downstairs. As Betsy and Eddie's resolve is worn down, finally the two predatory seducers introduce the drug amyl nitrate on to the scene and the night's shenanigans are on their way! As the camerawork becomes more hallucinatory, Betsy and Eddie are simultaneously seduced by the swingers. Elvira even uses a strap-on dildo on Betsy while she wears a leash and collar. Apparently there is a hardcore version of this film around, but the version I saw was pretty much softcore. Still, you could tell what was going on ...

The next day, Jack and Elvira call the score a draw. Both Betsy and Eddy are confused and a bit regretful, each thinking the other is normal. The telephone man comes back for a visit, and becomes invited to the threesome Jack and Elvira are going to have with Betsy, who is convinced swinging is the way to go. They begin their little orgy, but Eddie wants none of it. But then, did the telephone man say something about enjoying bowling ...?

Neither the wonderful sexual mind-trip that is The Lickerish Quartet, nor possessing the savage erotic intensity of The Punishment of Anne, Score is just a light piece of sexual whimsy, a fairy-tale for adults, in comparison. There's no intellectualising, no philosophy, other then happy hedonism for it's own sake. None of it is played particularly straight - as it were - and the actors all seems to be winking along with Metzger, as the story, such as it is, progresses. One gets the feeling Lynn Lowry's Betsy could be convinced to do anything, let along what goes on in the bedroom. This girl doesn't have much willpower for a supposed staunch Catholic girl! Claire Wilbur's Elvira probably has the most depth, you can occasionally see a sadness in her eyes, an emptiness that you can suppose drives her on to seek sensation and experience to replace something else long missing. The men are almost stick-figures compared to the women, but they help drive the story along. As far as sex scenes go, they were more spaced-out and trippy than titillating to this viewer, but maybe film fans out there would get something erotic out of them. As always with a Metzger film, Score is well-made, with great camerawork and the watery, Venice-like locales look wonderful, apparently they were in the Yugoslavia of the time.

If you'd like an introduction to the erotica of Radley Metzger that you may forget as soon as you've watched it - but enjoy on its own terms nonetheless, Score may well be worth a view. Quick at ninety minutes, inconsequential yet somewhow refreshing, I can't say it's my favorite Metzger by a long shot - Lickerish Quartet being my number one so far - but I'm glad it exists all the same.

© Boris Lugosi, 2007.

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Review written: 02/18/2007 20:58:58