Shapeless exploitation flick Class of ’74 comprises dippy dialogue, pathetic storytelling, and uneven acting, as well as the usual barrage of nudie shots and softcore humping. So why suggest, by use of the “Funky” rating, that Class of ’74 has redeeming values? Because, thanks to lots of “hip” conversations about sexual attitudes, the picture has minor value as a time capsule. Make no mistake, the film’s gender politics wilt upon close inspection, since the takeaway is that hot young coeds should use their bodies to land older men with money. Yet in the course of expressing retrograde ideas, Class of ’74 articulates aspects of social exploration that were intrinsic to the experience of being young in the early ’70s. An uptight girl tries a threesome. Ladies ask why America is so hung up on old ideas about age gaps and racial differences. And in one surprising sequence, several young people unload about their sexual histories, leading to the vignette of a gay man recalling the time he was molested by his high-school gym coach. If only because of that one scene, Class of ’74 differs from other skin flicks. Codirectors Mark Bing and Arthur Marks might not actually surpass the boundaries of softcore, but they jam into this dubious subgenre elements that can almost be described as thoughtful.
Here’s the salacious storyline, a simple description of which should be sufficient for dispelling any impression that these remarks constitute praise. When her gal pals realize that leggy Gabriella (Barbara Mills) is sexually inexperienced, they conspire to hook her up with sex partners and sugar daddies. The process triggers a series of flashbacks, montages, and rap sessions delineating the sexual identities and proclivities of various characters. Among Gabriella’s gaggle of girlfriends, swaggering African-American babe Carla (Marki Bey) espouses a cynical get-it-while-you-can attitude; even-more-cynical redheaded beauty Maggie (Sondra Currie) describes how she uses men while trying to sleep her way to stardom; and most-cynical-of-all blonde hottie Heather (Pat Woodell) explains to Gabriella the virtues of screwing older, and often married, men with money. Every so often, Class of ’74 has a fleeting moment of insightfulness, but then it swerves back into the safe lane of drab sleaziness. In sum, Class of ’74 represents an interesting opportunity to learn what two male filmmakers thought (or hoped) young women were saying about sex back in the day.
Class of ’74: FUNKY