The world was not waiting for a Big Statement from filmmaker Don Schain and his then-wife, clothing-averse starlet Cheri Caffaro, who earned notoriety with the sexed-up espionage flick Ginger (1971). Nonetheless, in between making sequels to Ginger, the couple tackled a slew of social issues in the ridiculous melodrama A Place Called Today, which inexplicably received an X-rating during its initial release. (The version I watched contains nothing more than some bloody violence, coarse language, and simulated sex.) Cynical, heavy-handed, and unbelievable, the movie depicts a young black politician who stokes civil unrest by secretly conspiring with criminals and then runs for mayor by promising to end the unrest. Since it was filmed at a time when plugged-in directors were engaging the Black Power movement head-on, the plot of A Place Called Today is weirdly old-fashioned, like a racially tinged riff on some old Edward G. Robinson potboiler. Furthermore, the filmmakers’ attempts to integrate elements of jet-set debauchery and youthful rebellion fall flat. Caffaro plays the horny daughter of a corrupt businessman, Lana Wood plays an earnest activist, and both of them sleep with a white reporter determined to uncover the black politician’s scheme. So what the hell is A Place Called Today trying to say? That everyone is misguided? That conscientious white people need to save African-Americans from themselves? That sex makes everyone insane? Compounding the muddiness of its rhetoric, A Place Called Today suffers from leaden pacing, wildly inconsistent acting, and a vile portrayal of women. After all, the picture concludes with a gruesome rape/murder scene. In sum, if you’re looking for an inept movie that contains both gratuitous nudie shots and lengthy debates about the pros and cons of capitalism, then A Place Called Today was made for you.
A Place Called Today: LAME