The Swinging Cheerleadersrecommended viewing

Wow. Talk about mixed emotions.
★★★★★
☆☆☆☆
Released: 
1974
Director: 
Jack Hill
Starring: 
Jo Johnston, Rainbeaux Smith, Colleen Camp, Ron Hajak
The Setup: 
Journalist infiltrates cheerleading squad to expose exploitative practices.
Discussion: 

The same guy who insisted quite strongly that I watch Margaret then wrote to recommend this, which sounded (and was) a lot more immediately fun. The end result is: I need to find out what other movies this fellow recommends, because this one was... well, I'm not even totally sure what it was, but it sure was SOMETHING.

This is directed by Jack Hill, of Foxy Brown and stars Jo Johnston and Rainbeaux Smith, the lead from Lemora, who also appeared in The Incredible Melting Man and Laserblast. We open with a montage of college football games, interspersed with freeze frames of cheerleaders as the credits play. Apparently the filmmaker's took pains that the players uniforms matched those we'll continue to see in the stock footage that represents the football games, but it doesn't matter much because no one will believe the stock footage came from anything related to this film for even a moment. We also learn from the credits that this is supposedly written by two women, another thing I don't quite believe.

So after the game we're introduced to the coach, Fred, and a prominent alumni of the school, John. They've got a winning team, led by their star players Buck and Ross, and they start hatching a plan to make some money on the side. Buck is sort of like, if you can imagine Harrison Ford as a teenager, hair parted down the middle Han Solo-style. We then join some cheerleader tryouts, featuring three existing cheerleaders, the bossy, blonde Mary Ann, who is the girlfriend of Buck. Willowy blonde Andie, played by Rainbeau, and African-American Lisa. Some women try out, and there's an attractive brunette, Kate, who has the sultry, knowing look of Marion Cotillard, and the frightening giant teeth of Jane March. She is first seen applying those teeth to an apple as she stares at Buck, who is also checking her out, as noticed by Mary Ann. Kate tries out and is obviously the best, as the other nominees are made to look so incompetent.

So Kate goes home to the apartment of Ron, saying "I did it! I DID it, Ron!" when he has no idea what she intended to do or what she has done. He turns around and gives her this smile--see photo--that... well, you see the picture. He proves to be a very strange-looking person, with a gaunt, angular face that at times makes him resemble the animated insects from Antz. Under giant Gene Wilder hair. It would hap that Kate is a journalist of indeterminate age who has infiltrated this cheerleading squad in order to write an exposé on the "exploitative, degrading" practices inherent to cheerleading. Seconds later, Kate is topless, and she's sitting on Ron's lap, and he is sucking her boobs, although we only see the back of his head and hear noises. Then she gets down under his, umm, TUNIC (not everything about the 70s was hot and sexy) and it is heavily suggested that she is giving him oral sex, then they both have sex, although again, nothing is really shown. By now you're getting an idea of what this movie is--softcore that is as dirty as possible without actually showing anything. Which is what tips it out of the realm of the just plain weird and into the surreal.

Speaking of, next Kate joins Mary Ann and Buck in what I have described in my notes as the "insane red diner," where Buck talks to Mary Ann and eats a big beef sandwich while he finger-fucks Kate! This is after Mary Ann tries to keep Kate off the team, but the other two women vote for her. Kate then strikes a blow for feminism by advising Andi to go without a bra. I know that at one time it was a feminist idea that bras are restrictive and repressive, but in this context the overarching idea is that it also has the added "advantage" of letting men more easily see women's boobs.

We then meet Ross, boyfriend of Andi, who lives with Buck and also has a large resemblance to a Ken doll. His hair is this neat helmet that truly does look like plastic. Take a look at the photo from this scene and see the guys, one, but--see the wallpaper! BOTH styles of it. Ken's problem is that he can't score with Andi, because they just get so far and then it fizzles. Buck advises him to cook her dinner and I THINK he advises him to "accidentally" spill some sauce on his own pants, but I didn't rewind to make sure. Soon Ross and Andi have dinner--I have written in my notes: "Everything about it INSANE"--and they try again to achieve penetration, but no go, right at the last minute. Then Ken stands up and-photo below--looking this frame is when I realized that my brain had actually cracked. The wallpaper. Ken's shirt AGAINST the wallpaper. And then the blood-red, drippy painting of the orangutan? I began to be afraid that Satan was trying to reach me through this movie.

After we see that coach Fred and alumni John are going to rig the games to make some cash, we have Buck comes up to Kate and say they should get together to screw. She is enraged, and tells him that "You think since you rang the doorbell, you can just go right in!" And she's absolutely right--I'm sure any number of us have let virtual strangers finger-fuck us without intending to convey sexual willingness! I just can't believe some people act that way! But as we'll come to discover, Kate has a moral code all her own. She returns to Ron, the Antz guy, and refuses his advances. She is, it would seem, crashing with him and using his typewriter. He wants to get it on, but she angrily refuses, then haughtily tells him that he could learn a thing or two from those dumb jocks he criticizes. By now we're starting to get the impression that what feminism means to Kate is: anything she wants is morally right, and anything she doesn't want is morally wrong.

Now we join African-American Lisa and soon realize--she's having an affair with her professor, Frank! Their age difference is quite apparent and verging on the creepy, which may be why when they get sexual, in contrast to everyone else in the film, the screen just fades to black. I actually suspect the perception was that the intended audience here would not stand to see blacks having sex.

From here, things take a turn away from the softcore and way, WAYYY too much toward the serious, as the kids uncover a game-fixing plot by the coach and local business leader, to the point where you're like: "Ummm, I came here to watch softcore?" But it also contributes to the general air of strangeness. There is also the matter of one of the cheerleaders taking Kate's advice to offer up the punanny to her boyfriend, and Kate not exactly being all that repentant or sympathetic when the girl is forcibly gang-raped. But the majority of the ending is involved in the game-fixing scandal and all other concerns are eventually forgotten.

Ultimately, pretty much a must-see. It is just so, so, so bizarre and remains horny and delightfully 70s while truly keeping you in suspense as to what you might possibly see next. The wild card is the softcore element, which works here as it did in Caligula: most films stop before becoming directly sexual, but these ones are able to cross the line. I have serious doubts that I will ever again see a scene in which a guy finger-fucks a girl while eating a roast beef sandwich. But--never say never! I also don't advise anyone look to this for guidance on sexual politics, although it is interesting for the viewpoint that feminism might be a great thing for society, because it could inspire women to shake their braless jugs around and have lots of open free sex. Anyway, the result is something I'm not even wholly sure I can define, but what I do know is that it is definitely something you need to see. You'll need drugs.

Should you watch it: 

Yes. Save it for sometime when you need a sure fire bizarre hit. You'll need drugs.