Tuesday, 12 July 2022

Schoolgirl Hitchhikers

Gang Bling

Schoolgirl Hitchhikers
aka Jeunes filles impudiques
France 1973
Directed by Jean Rollin (as Michel Gentil)
Jezebel Films Blu Ray Zone B

Okay so, every so often, between making his beautiful, erotic, surrealistic visions of movies utilising vampires, zombies or other supernatural elements (which weren’t always as successful although, many I’m sure recognise most of them as masterpieces now), Rollin would be forced to supplement his income by making both hardcore and, as is the case here, softcore pornography films under various pseudonyms in order to raise funds for his next personal project. I’d never seen one of his ‘purely for the money’ works before but I couldn’t resist this lovely Blu Ray edition of Schoolgirl Hitchhikers put out by Jezebel FIlms when I was at a film fair a few years ago.

First, a word about the English language title of the movie. There are two leading female protagonists in the movie, Joëlle Coeur as Monica and Gilda Arancio as Jackie. Although one of them is wearing a schoolgirl style skirt at the opening of the movie, I don’t think it’s once suggested in the film that they are, in fact, schoolgirls and they are certainly over age to be considered as such (thankfully). Similarly, although Monica, in her voice over narrative, sets the scene by saying they are on a camping holiday together... the girls are just hiking through the woods to pitch a tent. They don’t once hitchhike throughout the entire movie so... yeah... the English translated title seems a bit off to me.

This films goes under the guise of pornography and there are a fair few sex scenes and the requisite nudity (of the softcore variety) is ever present but, it has to be said, the film’s somewhat cobbled together plot machinations to bring about sexy variants in the film are often concentrated on more than the actual sex scenes themselves, after around the half way mark.

Okay, so the film starts off with the girls stumbling across a fully furnished, abandoned villa in the forest and they go and check it out. They find a bed in there, strip off and start having sex. Just before the sex there’s a bizarre moment where they both stop to put on new pillow cases on the pillows and, yeah, I couldn’t work out what that was all about. Anyway, the girls go at it in a seductive, slow manner and then Monica seems to have a quite astonishingly distressed sounding orgasm due to almost zero provocation from Jackie (her hands or tongue seem to be nowhere near anything sexual at the time)... which did seem a bit odd to me. The film then also gets a tad boring when the girls get their second wind and I can quite see why that, as Rollin has said in interviews, he didn’t always stick around on the set when the sex scenes were being shot and just left that stuff to the AD.

Anyway, a guy called Fred, played by Rollin regular Willy Braque, turns up downstairs during the night. He’s a small time thief who is somehow using this fully furnished villa as his hideout. Monique discovers him downstairs so, just as you would expect in real life, the two start having sex. Halfway through and for no reason I could fathom, the logs in the fireplace ignite. I couldn’t work out if it was the metaphorical fury of their lovemaking which caused this fiery outburst from the dry wood (which seems unlikely due to the less than frantic pace of the actors in this scene) or whether one or other of them had unexplained superhero mutant powers which caused these logs to accompany them with their fiery fervor. I never found out but the logs do turn up blazing away in other shots too.

Predictably, Jackie then discovers the two and so, of course, she joins in for a threesome. And then the rest of the film plays out as follows...

The girls go off and pitch a tent nearby, the next morning. Then Fred’s female boss and her male associate arrive. They think the girls made off with their jewels which are somehow absent from the safe in the house... so Fred and the other geezah go out to look for the girls, who obviously must have stolen them. They find their tent and drug them unconscious to take back to the villa. Jackie is chained up in a very tame BDSM scene where they beat her with the cane and cut a load of her hair off, among other tortures. Monica seduces the other guy and conks him on the head to escape. She brings back a private detective and his busty secretary to the villa. When the villains arrive back on the scene there is a pitched gun battle. They recover Jackie but Monica is kidnapped and taken to the nearby Chinese pavilion for torture. Except Monica and Fred just have sex again instead, while the boss lady looks on voyeuristically from outside. The next morning, there are more shenanigans at the villa and, after a few changes in who has the upper hand (the villains or the detective and co) and some more, short lived seductions involving Monica and the secretary with different people, a real estate guy drives up and it’s revealed that he took the jewels all along, but they are fake. The bad guys and gals are arrested, while Monica and Jackie traipse off into the forest to frolic their way into more sexy adventures... the end.

Okay... so there’s maybe a bit more plot than usual for a softcore porn film but, honestly, I just think Rollin probably got bored. There are lots of things about the movie that do point to a master at work however. Such as the symmetry of the shots at the start (and, of course, it’s a duet of young lady female protagonists again... just like in pretty much all his work) and the way he is almost more interested in filming the architecture of the villa and the placement of the girls within it, rather than focusing on the sexier aspects of their characters.

The sequence in the ‘Chinese pavilion’ consists of a small chamber which has all different coloured glass panes around it and when the boss lady watches Fred and Monique have sex, their reclining bodies are split between two glass panels by an upright vertical frame which renders them both red and yellow within the same shot. The hue of the glass is also strong enough to completely change the colour of the lady’s striking, purple dress.

I also noticed that there are a lot more master shots and long shots used in the majority of the sex scenes... barring the first one. So less interest to cutting in to close up details and longer takes than you might expect from some porn films.

However, Rollin also hasn’t lost that preoccupation on the broader strokes of his compositions at the risk of losing focus of the details of a shot. For instance, when Jackie is chained in the house and menaced by the villains of the piece, there’s one cut to a close up where both the background details of the room have changed somewhat (I think it’s an insert shot filmed somewhere completely different) and her chains have somehow, temporarily transformed themselves into sturdy rope instead. I wonder if this is the remnants of another scene planned but left mostly unshot, within the body of the film.

All in all, though, I have to say I rather enjoyed Schoolgirl Hitchhikers for what it was. It’s a bit of tongue in cheek fun, it has to be said and, as a bonus... and presumably because he possibly couldn’t find a spare actor on the day... in the brief scenes with the estate agent, Jean Rollin himself turns up as that character. I can’t remember if I’ve seen him turn up in one of his films before but I have to say that, the film is filled with a couple of good actors and actresses and also a load of terrible ones and, it has to be said, Rollin’s performance here definitely singles him out as a terrible actor, it would seem. And that’s all I’ve got for you on this one. There are a few friends who I think I might recommend this to but it’s definitely a film where the audience has to be in the right frame of mind nowadays to humour the intentions of the cast and crew, it seems to me. However, I could think of a lot worse ways of raising money for your next ‘proper’ film, for sure.

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