Saturday, April 29, 2017

Summer School Teachers (1974)

          Summer School Teachers is yet another ensemble piece from New World about three young women whose sex lives are intertwined because they work at the same place. Specifically, twentysomething Midwesterners Conklin (Candice Rialson), Denise (Rhonda Leigh Hopkins), and Sally (Pat Anderson) accept temporary jobs teaching in the summer program at a high school in California. Each character has a separate subplot, and each subplot has a different tonality, so while the overall vibe of the picture is gentle drama, some scenes veer into comedy while others venture into thriller terrain. Featuring an unusually strong distaff presence behind the camera (producer Julie Corman, writer-director Barbara Peters), the picture integrates feminist ideals into many scenes, though that doesn’t stop Summer School Teachers from delivering a showcase topless scene for each of its leading ladies. Thanks to a coherent script and some passable acting, this is somewhat more respectable than the usual drive-in sleaze, but it’s still intended primarily to titillate. De facto leading lady Rialson is as charming and feisty here as she is in the outrageous sex comedy Chatterbox! (1977), and B-movie icon Dick Miller lends his cantankerous presence as her character’s sexist nemesis. Their scenes are the best parts of the picture.
          Conklin teaches physical education, so she clashes with the school’s football coach (Miler) upon accepting the challenge to form a girls’ football squad. Concurrently, she breaks one of her own rules by dating a fellow teacher. Meanwhile, Denise teaches chemistry, imprudently becoming involved with a juvenile-delinquent student, and Sally courts controversy by allowing erotic work in her photography class. Outside school hours, she dates a number of men including a former rock star now working as a grocery-store clerk. The Conklin story is fairly enjoyable and also the most effective delivery system for the picture’s equal-rights sloganeering. However, the Denise storyline is blandly melodramatic, and the Sally storyline is silly. In the movie’s goofiest scene, two old biddies listen through a wall while the rock star prepares a meal for Sally with such bizarre techniques as throwing a head of lettuce through the strings of a harp to shred the leaves. The biddies get aroused by misinterpreting what they overhear (“The only thing better than my meat is my sauce,” etc.). Although the scene doesn’t work, at least it represents an attempt at ribald wit.

Summer School Teachers: FUNKY

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