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Sunday 20 November 2011

Burl reviews Sweater Girls! (1978)

Hi, it’s Burl! Ha ha! I’m here to review the movie Sweater Girls, which is part of a small but vital microgenre of the 1970s, which is to say movies that were pitched as being American Graffiti plus nudity! Since American Graffiti had been such a marvelous hit, and of course in the 70s bare breasts and backsides were all the rage, there were many producers who figured that combining these elements would make for a profitable drive-in entertainment! And who’s to say they were wrong? Not ol’ Burl!
There were quite a few of these productions! Slumber Party ’57 was a good one, and it featured a young Debra Winger! There was Hometown U.S.A. and of course the Lemon Popsicle movies from Israel (Going Steady, Hot Bubblegum and others); and then the genre reached some kind of zenith with Porky’s, which of course, along with Animal House, then begat the whole 80s cycle of teen and collegiate sex comedies!
But we’re here to talk Sweater Girls, a picture which documents the adventures had by a group of teens over the Fourth of July weekend in 1956! The movie opens with a newsreel of that summer’s happenings, and then we meet some of our primary characters as they smooch in a car at the drive-in! Oh, even though I wasn’t nearly born during this period, scenes like this have the power to awaken a fearsome nostalgia in me, I must admit! I guess I’d prefer to not be a person who wastes a lot of time looking backwards, but one of my facets, even on this blog, is that of historian, so I guess I come by it naturally at least!
From there, the plot sort of starts! Pete and his buddies decide to have themselves a wild time, and they make friends with Henry the glasses nerd because Henry’s dad owns a beer shop! That way they can get giant brown bottles of beer which clink together appealingly even when the boozy town cop steals them from the lads!
Meanwhile, the girls decide to form a club called the Sweater Girls! I was never sure what the point of the club was exactly, but it had something to do with maintaining chastity! They invite the town bad girl, Joella, to join the club, and she does! Then they decide to have a sleepover party at grandma’s house, where they frequently change from one colored sweater to another, revealing great voluminous white brassieres every time! Ha ha!
Of course, the lads have gotten themselves sozzled on brewskis, and they show up at grandma’s house to make mischief, but since the girls aren’t particularly resistant to their arrival, what at first seems like a set-up for a siege situation turns into a series of antics and shenanigans, some of them involving somersaulting off roofs, others involving boobs and behinds! There’s lots of tumbling into the bathtub and a few misunderstandings, and the only real fly in this ointment of paradise is the nosy, beer-swiping cop! But he gets his in the end, ha ha – literally, when his bottom is covered in paint!
The big flaw in this picture is that the lads get drunk at the beginning and pretty much stay drunk for the entire movie! That gets kind of wearisome after a while, I must say! Most people would say this is a boring movie where not much happens, and they wouldn’t be wrong, but I really enjoyed it! Little scenes like the glasses nerd and Joella excitedly admitting to one another that they prefer Adlai Stevenson over Ike make this kind of thing worthwhile for a guy like ol’ Burl! I also kind of like that this movie, uniquely in its subgenre, isn’t crammed wall-to-wall with cheaply-licensed 50s hits! No, they wrote and recorded one themselves, calling it Sweater Girls of course, and they play that one over and over throughout the picture! I give this low-budget trinket two and a half Charlene Tilton cameos!   

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