Felicity (Glory Annen) is a teenage girl in her last year at boarding school, and keen to learn about the wider world she is going to enter all too soon. Life at the school has been a sheltered one where she was taught by nuns and had next to no contact with anyone male whatsoever, but her curiosity about sex has been eating her up inside, especially as she liked to note how her classmates were maturing in stolen glances during showers – and then realised she was maturing too, all ready for womanhood. But just as she was getting used to the idea, she had to bid her bosom buddy Jenny (Jody Hanson) a fond farewell as she received a letter from her older sister Christine (Marilyn Rodgers)...
Yes, Felicity is being taken out of school to travel to Hong Kong where she will finally experience the sexual awakening she has been yearning for. Although, was it really her own sexual awakening, or was it somebody else's? There was more than one viewer at the time who noted how suspiciously the plot of this cleaved to the plot of a certain other, groundbreaking softcore movie, namely the French international hit Emmanuelle which made Sylvia Krystel an star around the globe, so much so that our heroine was seen reading from the source novel and mentioning in her narration that the couple canoodling in the airline seats behind her on the overnight flight was just like, you guessed it, Emmanuelle.
So there was something of a cheek going on here, not that audiences of the day would have complained, they wanted to see naked flesh and that was what writer/producer/director John D. Lamond served up, a strain of Australian sexploitation that he was only too happy to supply, this being his stock in trade throughout the nineteen-seventies and beyond. Before Felicity he had crafted a couple of lucrative mondo movie-style sex films, nothing hardcore but taking advantage of his home nation's loosening cinema censorship laws to deliver all the bare naked ladies, and a fair few naked men for that matter, that adult viewers across the planet wished to see. Here he fancied applying a plot to these scenes.
He had actually been planning this for years, but it wasn't until 1978 that he had the financing, and thus a minor legend in Aussie drive-in and grindhouse cinema was born. His game star was apple-cheeked Annen, a Canadian actress fresh out of London drama school, and though the role led to her appearing in the altogether in a handful of other, less high profile movies before she preferred to concentrate on the stage, for those who caught this at an impressionable age, she would always be Felicity, the teenage free spirit who tries a variety of experiences before settling for monogamy with a nice young man called Miles (Chris Milne). That's right, though she was dedicated to pleasure, what our girl really wished for was a nice holiday romance, which was better than experimenting on hot summer nights with Jenny.
Which was unexpectedly sweet, and might have been the influence of the director's wife Diane Lamond on co-screenwriting duties. This was not going to win any prestigious awards, let's not labour under any illusions, but it did have a positive take on its protagonist's journey, even if now the thought of following a seventeen-year-old girl as she tried out her sexual preferences would make most potential viewers balk. You could reassure yourself that Annen was into her twenties when she filmed this, and it was all a fantasy anyway, but if this did make you uncomfortable then that was perfectly reasonable. On the other hand, so blatantly was it designed to appeal to couples of the era in an obviously made up arena of sexual enlightenment that it was difficult to take seriously, and all the trappings of softcore, no matter which country it hailed from, were present and correct, from the absurdly regular encounters with partners (Felicity is bisexual, for added miscellany) to the stilted dialogue purely to get from one steamy sequence to the next. It wasn't great, but it contained a certain Aussie chutzpah that aficionados or the simply curious would be amused by. You do get sick of hearing that bloody song, though.
[Severin's Blu-ray is an absolute bargain, with two extra feature films from Lamond as extras, plus commentaries on all three, a trailer gallery and outtakes from Mark Hartley's Not Quite Hollywood documentary with Annen, Lamond and his cinematographer.]