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  Summer Lovers Had Me A Blast
Year: 1982
Director: Randal Kleiser
Stars: Peter Gallagher, Daryl Hannah, Valérie Quennessen, Barbara Rush, Carole Cook, Hans Van Tongeren, Lydia Lenosi, Vladimiros Kiriakidis, Carlos Rodríguez Ramos, Rika Dialyna, Andreas Filippides, Peter Pie, Janis Benjamin, Victor T. Salant, Brigitte Perbandt
Genre: Sex, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Ah, the Greek islands! Sun, sand, fun and loads of nude bodies! Or that's what Michael Pappas (Peter Gallagher) is hoping to find when he arrives there on holiday with his more conservative girlfriend Cathy Featherstone (Daryl Hannah), he just knows she will let her hair down in this environment. They take a villa to stay in, working out they can afford a couple of months before real life beckons and they have to return home, and in the meantime Michael starts to ogle the local talent, a plethora of sunbathers and swimmers, with one in particular - Frenchwoman Lina (Valérie Quennessen) - catching his eye. Can he risk pursuing her without disappointing Cathy?

Well, that doesn't sound very romantic until you cotton on to the way this was an American film trying to emulate the softcore eroticism of many a European romantic drama. They had been released throughout the world in the seventies and Hollywood was beginning to realise that a film with plenty of nudity in it did not need to be a sex comedy, assuming you were not going the full-on hardcore route. Randal Kleiser, whose filmography took in both Grease and The Blue Lagoon, felt he was the man to bring this revolution, or revelation at any rate, to the screens of America, and though it was predictably frowned upon by the tastemakers, he managed a decent hit out of it.

Not that there was anything pioneering about it, and all the cast had done, or would do, better work elsewhere, but the point was to create an experience that would be akin to going on a liberated Continental holiday yourself. As it was, plenty responded, and not just males wanting an outlet for their libido either, as females much appreciated Summer Lovers as well, presumably since any issues the three main characters faced were nothing too taxing, and it was not a spoiler to say there was a happy ending. Everything here was exceedingly relaxed, and many was a viewer who envisaged themselves spending time on just this kind of beach, or swimming through those crystal blue waters.

Basically it was the kind of film that invited you to start planning your own summer holiday the second the end credits had finished, the equivalent of those television programmes recommending the best tourist spots in the most picturesque regions of the planet. The sexuality was a part of that sense of personal freedom, as Michael gets to talking to Lina and they have a fling, but he wants to take it further yet have his cake and eat it too by staying in his relationship with Cathy. She is understandably annoyed when he admits his infidelity, but something about the atmosphere of letting it all hang out is chipping away at her accustomed repression, and soon she is liking the idea of a menage a trois as Lina gets closer to them both. It should be mentioned that as far as we know, Michael has sex with both women, but the women don't have sex with each other.

That was because despite the purposefully erotic air, there were absolutely no sex scenes in Summer Lovers, so people got naked but we never saw the ultimate expression of their passion, which maybe is another reason for the movie's popularity: it seemed so oddly clean and wholesome, and not a couple being led astray by some wicked French strumpet. In some scenes, Kleiser packed every shot with as much nakedness as he could, his extras reputedly delighted to get their kits off to appear in a high profile production, but each of the three stars appeared in the buff too, though you could tell Quennessen was more at ease with that than her American cast members - Gallagher did full frontal, but only in long shot, and Hannah was coy about showing too much for any extended period of time. Still, if there was a limited nature as to how far this would go, its breezy tone, pop soundtrack and getting away from it all escapism were perfectly pleasant. No, it was not anything for the cinematic pantheon, but it was a nice reminder of the slightly androgynous Quennessen, who sadly died a few short years after this, her last film, was released.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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