Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Single Girls (1974)

Now here's an unusual concept: members of an encounter group have their sexcapades at a weekend retreat interrupted by a mysterious killer. This sarcastic thriller is perhaps the most interesting picture by the Sebastian filmmaking couple (who made some curios like On The Air With Captain Midnight and Delta Fox). It is also perhaps the most "of-its-time" of their work, painting a less-than-flattering portrait of swinging singles in that excessive decade. Despite the thriller trimmings and the expected doses of sex, this is largely a character study of despair in which nymphos and celibates alike have sexual hangups. Most of the male characters are such socially displaced souls -oh, like those who only come out of their apartments enough to attend memorabilia fairs or small press shows- that one wonders how they hooked up with these babes. The only male who seems confident and personable is played by Albert Popwell (best remembered in the "six shots or only five" scene in Dirty Harry). It is interesting too to see Claudia Jennings cast against type as an ingenue.

For the most part, this is a fascinating blend of murder mystery, sexploitation and psychoanalysis. Interesting too are the excellent "fly on the wall", documentary-like scenes full of stuttering overlapping dialogue where the characters discuss their feelings in encounter meetings- these moments don't feel like a movie at all. The Single Girls is a curio to remember.

RATING: 3.5 mosquito coils out of five.

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