Harrad Summer (1974)

harrad summer

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Bringing sexual liberation home.

The school year is over and now the students of Harrad, which is the college that teaches and promotes open sexuality, go home for the summer and put what they’ve learned into action in their everyday lives. Like in the first film this sequel focuses on just four of the students who find that their parents and friends are not as broad minded as they are, which causes friction in not only their relations with them, but with each other as well.

This film for the most part works surprisingly well. Director Steven Hilliard Stern takes more of a playful approach to the material and mixes in some funny moments that overall are quite entertaining. The wide variety of locales elevates the stagnant feeling that the first one had and it also manages to address a wider variety of issues.

The story is broken up into three segments with each one focusing on the student’s home lives as they visit each of their parents for 2-weeks at a time as a group. The first part, which deals with Stanley’s (Robert Reiser) folks isn’t too interesting and is fortunately pretty brief. The visit to Harry’s (Richard Doran) is the most comical and the film’s highlight while Stanley’s conflicts with Sheila’s (Laurie Walters) father (Walter Brooke) during their visit to her folks seem contrived and pointless. The film never manages to get to Beth’s (Victoria Thompson) parents, which is probably just as well.

The film’s biggest drawback is that neither Don Johnson nor Bruno Kirby, who were so good in the first film, reprises their roles here and their absence is sorely missed as  Reiser and Doran don’t have the same acting talents and are quite weak in comparison. Thompson, who was blonde in the first film, now has, with no explanation, jet black hair, which makes her look exactly like her sister and fellow actress Hilary Thompson. Also, Emmaline Henry, who was best known for playing Mrs. Bellows in the ‘60s show ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ replaces Tippi Hedren who was unavailable for the sequel and James Whitmore’s role gets taken out completely.

The supporting cast is what gives the film its spark. Comedian Marty Allen, whose hair looks like the ultimate bird’s nest and usually gets more attention than his comic ability, is fun as a drunken party guest. However, Pearl Shear, who plays his wife, is the real scene stealer as an overweight middle-aged woman, who in Mrs. Roper-like fashion, eagerly wants to get involved with the kids and their new found sexual liberation and even takes part in a nudist session with them.

Bill Dana, famous for creating the Jose Jimenez character, is quite good as well playing Harry’s staunchly conservative father who can’t deal with the open sexuality of the younger generation only to surprisingly come around to it at the very end. He also gets the film’s best line when after denying to Harry that he ever had any affairs finally admits “Maybe I did a couple (women) in Vegas and a few in Cleveland, but what else is there to do in Cleveland.”

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Alternate Title: Love All Summer

Released: August 6, 1974

Runtime: 1Hour 43Minutes

Rated R

Director: Steven Hilliard Stern

Studio: Cinerama Releasing Corporation

Available: DVD

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