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  Group Marriage All Together Now
Year: 1973
Director: Stephanie Rothman
Stars: Victoria Vetri, Aimée Eccles, Jeff Pomerantz, Claudia Jennings, Solomon Sturges, Zack Taylor, John McMurtry, Pepe Serna, Jayne Kennedy, Milt Kamen, Ron Gans
Genre: Comedy, SexBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Chris (Aimée Eccles) works for a car hire firm, and likes her job but is having misgivings about her boyfriend Sandor (Solomon Sturges) whose life has been consumed by his obsession with creating a new line of bumper stickers with hip messages on them. Today she tries to hitch a ride to his place of work to fix his car, but the driver who stops for her is also approached by another hitcher, a parole officer named Dennis (Jeff Pomerantz), whose car has broken down nearby. After an argument about who the driver stopped for, they both get in - who knows where this could lead?

The clue's in the title, but it takes six people to make a group marriage, or it does according to this anyway, so where do the others come from? That's what you find out over the course of the story, in director and co-writer Stephanie Rothman's sex comedy which may have sounded unpromising in the manner of such things, but actually turned out to be not so bad. Quite enjoyable actually, with a bright sense of humour which more often than not hit the funny bone, and a neatly progressive attitude to relationships, all of which may be dated now to an extent, but being so redolent of a free and easy time was very refreshing.

All this was before AIDS came along and spoiled the free love party, so this is even more nostalgic for some viewers than others, or it might have been if their point of view had not evolved in a different direction. Rothman of course was notable for being a female director of what were basically exploitation movies, but she gained the reputation of someone of note when a feminist subtext was often spotted in her work, with its strong female characters well to the fore. In this case there were three of them, Chris and the two women who show up later on, both of them ex-Playboy Playmates of the Year, perhaps not hired for their acting abilities but acquitting themselves respectably.

First up was Victoria Vetri as Jan, who is Dennis's girlfriend, invited along to meet Sandor and Chris after Dennis spends the night with the latter, apparently in a state of affairs that it was only reasonable Jan should have a go with Sandor, which they do. If there were any doubts that they were spoofing the higher profile but something of a cop out Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, then take a look at the scene where they're all sitting in bed together, only instead of getting intimate they find themselves distracted by Chris wanting to watch Johnny Carson followed by Attack of the 50 Foot Woman on late night television.

There are more examples of this irreverent, goodnatured humour to come, but when that other Playmate shows up the more serious implications of their arrangement arise. She was Claudia Jennings as lawyer Elaine, and she is brought aboard to live communally in the large house by another newcomer, lifeguard Phil (Zack Taylor), though she has ideas about changing the law to make group marriage legal. Once they appear on television as their notoriety spreads, they get unwanted attention by arch-conservative troublemakers, including a bunch who arrive to firebomb the house, but just as you think this is getting a little too downbeat what with adultery and an unplanned baby on the way to contend with, Rothman pulled it back for a cheery ending which might have acknowledged the law was not on their side, but was warm and generously-minded to leave you amused. Even homosexual couples get a look in, and if some of this might make modern audiences cringe, there was much very likeable about it. Music by Michael Andres, with a theme song by John Sebastian.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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