Radley Metzger, 1974
Starring: Claire Wilbur, Calvin Culver, Lynn Lowry, Gerald Grant, Carl Parker
"Jack, I'd hop in the sack with a porcupine if it struck my fancy."
A bisexual married couple pursues a younger, more conservative, newly married couple one night during a dinner party. Though the couple resists at first, a day and night of straight and gay sex, couple swapping, anal sex, lots of oral sex, a strap-on, amyl nitrates, role playing and costumes, drugs, and even an affair with the telephone repair man ensues. Metzger’s film is one of the first to portray bisexuality, which he does in an open and nonjudgemental manner. Score refers to the score kept between husband and wife about the number of people (presumably of the same sex) each have seduced. It is based on an off-Broadway play from 1971 by Jerry Douglas, which included a young Sylvester Stallone in a bit part as the telephone repairman.
While Metzger changed the play very little other than the setting - moving it from Queens to an imaginary city in Europe - he made two different versions of the film, one softcore and the other hardcore in order to give the film wider potential distribution. This U.S.-Yugoslavian co-production is another of Metzger’s early ‘70s films shot in Croatia, but this looks more lush and inviting than something like Little Mother, which had the same location. The is the least stylish of Metzger’s mid-period films, but still includes some interesting camera angles and textures, namely during the often dizzying sex scenes. There is also a lot of very funny visual innuendo, not quite on the level of Austin Powers; in that neighborhood but much sexier.
The film puts more of an emphasis on drama and dialogue than it does on sex, and while I enjoyed it, I literally fell asleep during the very long, very tame sex scene at the climax of the film. This is the first time I have ever fallen asleep watching a sex scene. Despite this, there are actually some very erotic moments and the actors are all lovely and bring a certain amount of humor and frankness. Though Lynn Lowry is perhaps the best known due to her roles in The Crazies, I Drink Your Blood, and Shivers, Claire Wilbur steals the film with the sheer amount of charm and sassiness that drives the plot forward. Calvin Culver (aka gay porn star Casey Donovan early in his career, playing a reluctantly gay husband in a straight marriage) and Gerald Grant don’t do a whole lot other than skip off in costumes and seduce each other, but they do it well.
Arrow Video released a U.K., yet region-free Blu-ray in February as part of a Metzger trilogy with Camille 2000 and The Lickerish Quartet. Like the other two releases, Score looks absolutely lovely and is similar in print quality to the Cult Epics Blu-ray, but this print was restored with supervision from Radley Metzger himself. There is an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and a 1080p transfer. The release includes a lossless English LPCM 2.0 audio track with optional English subtitles. The soundtrack is clear, but somewhat aged, though this will only bother absolute perfectionists. There are a number of special features included, such as On the Set of Score, with plenty of behind-the-scenes footage, Keeping Score with Lynn Rowley, an interview, trailers, new sleeve artwork, and essays on the film from Robin Bougie.
The only way that the Arrow release is inferior to the U.S. Cult Epics Blu-ray is that, unlike the fully uncut and hardcore version on the Cult Epics disc, the Arrow disc is bafflingly softcore and censored. It's difficult for me to recommend anything censored, but the disc is lovely and does have great special features. Obviously you should go with the uncut version, but as far as Metzger films go, you wouldn't be missing out too much with the softcore version of this film. If anyone recommends you watch a softcore version of something like The Opening of Misty Beethoven, slap them, hard, and without question.