Private Lessons (1981)

private lessons

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Housekeeper seduces a minor.

Mallow (Sylvia Kristel) is an English nanny working for a rich client named Fillmore (Ron Foster) who gets involved in a scheme with the family’s chauffer Lester (Howard Hesseman) to seduce Fillmore’s 15-year-old son Philly (Eric Brown). The idea is for her to fake having a heart attack during their lovemaking and convince Philly that he has killed her and then Lester will blackmail him to take $10,000 out of the family’s safe and give it to him has hush money for not reporting it to the police, but Philly is smarter than they think and not only catches onto their scheme, but has a double-cross in store for them as well.

The idea of having an adult making love to a minor most likely wouldn’t have gotten the green light today. To me it reeked of being a major double-standard. If the genders had been reversed and it had been a 15-year-old girl seduced by an older man this thing would’ve been considered obscene and banned, but because it involves a teen boy with ‘raging hormones’ instead that somehow makes it ‘okay’ and is approached as being nothing more than an innocuous sexual ‘coming-of-age’ flick, which I found to be both annoying and aggravating.

The scene involving the young Brown getting naked and hopping into the tub with the equally naked Kristel where they then fondle and kiss each other seemed like child erotica and will most likely make viewers today who are now much more sensitive on this topic feel uncomfortable to watch. The ending in which the two go to bed together in a very drawn out sensual segment that is done under a romantic context is downright smarmy. Viewers wanting to watch this simply to catch Kristel naked will be disappointed to know that most of her nude scenes where done using a body double named Judy Helden.

The script was written by Dan Greenburg, who also appears briefly as a seedy hotel owner and based on his 1969 novel ‘Philly’. He is a noted humorist who eight years earlier wrote the script to the film with the quirky title of I Could Never Have Sex with any Man Who has Such Little Respect for My Husband. For the most part this film is rather bland, but manages to pick up a bit during the second half when the story twist kicks in that at the very least makes it better than most other teen sex comedies, which are usually devoid of any discernable plot at all.

The script though is full of holes. For one thing it is highly doubtful that a rich parent would give their child a combination to a safe that has tons of money in it and there is never any explanation of what was put into the body bag that is hoisted into the ground and buried when Lester was still tricking Philly into believing it was the dead Mallow. Obviously it wasn’t her, so what was used to make it seem like a dead body? The film never says, but should’ve. Also, I found it hard to believe that Mallow and Philly could go out to a fancy restaurant and make out with each other openly in a booth and not have it create a stir and distraction with the other patrons especially when it was clearly involving an adult and a minor.

Brown whose only other claim to fame was playing Ken Berry’s son in the first two seasons of ‘Mama’s Family’ gives an engaging performance, but I couldn’t help but wonder what his parents where feeling and thinking during the love scenes. It’s also interesting to see Hesseman who wears a wig and has his mustache dyed brown in a rare turn as a heavy. Begley Jr. gets a few kudos in his attempt to play a ‘tough guy’ cop and Dan Barrows makes the most of his small role as the family’s gardener.

The film has a surprisingly great soundtrack that feature a lot of hits from the day which include: ‘Hot Legs’, ‘Tonight’s the Night’ and ‘You’re in My Heart’ by Rod Stewart as well as ‘Just When I Needed You the Most’ by Randy Van Warmer, ‘I Need a Lover’ by John Cougar, ‘Fantasy’ by Earth, Wind and Fire, ‘Next Time You See Her’ by Eric Clapton and ‘Lost in Love’ by Air Supply. How such a low budget movie was able to pay for the rights to these songs is a mystery, but it defiantly adds pizazz and helps give the film an extra point.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: August 28, 1981

Runtime: 1Hour 27Minutes

Rated R

Director: Alan Myerson

Studio: Jensen Farley Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s