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  Alvin Purple Sex On The Brain
Year: 1973
Director: Tim Burstall
Stars: Graeme Blundell, Christine McClure, George Whaley, Penne Hackforth-Jones, Alan Finney, Gary Down, Lynette Curran, Jacki Weaver, Noel Ferrier, Eileen Chapman, Jan Friedl, Barbi Taylor, Frederick Parslow, Jill Forster, Christine Amor, Dina Mann, Jenny Hagen
Genre: Comedy, SexBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Alvin Purple (Graeme Blundell) could be happier with his lot in life. Wherever he goes he is reminded of sex, walking down the street, on the bus, it doesn't matter: he sees attractive women everywhere and he feels this distraction is ruining his life. He supposes he could go around ripping open blouses or being very forward about asking them out, but if he did he knows he'd just get a slap in the face. So that's it then, he resolves with a toast (a can of lager) here's to the Sexless Seventies... whereupon his new next door neighbour, a comely lady, knocks on the door and asks him for a cup of sugar.

One thing leads to another and before you know it you're watching one of the most successful Australian films of all time. Alvin Purple was a huge hit across the world when it was released, and looking back it seemed like such an obvious way of ringing the box office tills by creating a sex comedy for the saucy seventies. Certainly other countries were doing it, notably Britain which sought to take the embarrassment out of watching sex onscreen by making it funny, or that was the idea, though what this item was inspired by mostly was Pier Paolo Pasolini's The Decameron, an arthouse sex comedy which had a veneer of sophistication and had been widely seen two years before.

Director Tim Burstall had been the brains behind the first of the so-called Ozploitation hits with Stork in 1971, which was made with very little resources but was very popular with Australian audiences, so Alvin seemed like the next logical step, paving the way for domestic cinema to pepper the screen with nudity as it pushed the boundaries of the new adults-only R rating. The joke here was that our hero was no strapping superstud, but a rather meek looking fellow who for some unexplained reason (you'll have trouble fathoming it yourself) women find irrestistable. We start with a flashback to his schooldays where teenage Alvin was pursued on the way home by a gaggle of girls on bikes who fought over his affections.

Although Alvin seeks solace in the arms of the wife of his headmaster, at least until her husband finds out. Next up we get to his 21st birthday where it seems he's had eleven jobs since leaving school, all because he cannot find anything that suits him (incidentally, it's a real stretch to believe Blundell is as young as the script says he is). Then an opportunity to become a waterbed salesman arises (yes, it was the seventies, how did you guess?), which has him filling up the mattresses only for the ladies purchasing them to insist on him testing it with them in the way you'd expect. Finally, he is persuaded by the woman he really loves, Tina (Christine McClure), but cannot get next to, that he should see a psychiatrist.

This decision turns him into a national sensation - but how? Because once he completes his therapy with Dr Liz Sort (Penne Hackforth-Jones), who is increasingly attracted to him herself, he is hired by her boss, Dr McBurney (George Whaley), to become part of his practice, offering sex to the troubled women who come to see him. There's a rather dubious moral to this in that it appears to be saying all a woman needs to sort herself out is a good shag, but it doesn't look to have been anything that the filmmakers thought too long about, and is merely the cue for more nudity and farce. When word gets out - from jealous Liz - that the shrink is operating a brothel for women, Alvin hits the headlines, becoming even more popular with the opposite sex much to his regret, but not with Tina, which brings up the famous sequence of Blundell running through busy Melbourne streets in just his underpants as he's chased by a gang of females. Throw in a car chase and a skydive, and you have a sex comedy that's weirdly mournful for its lead lothario. Music by Brian Cadd.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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