I spend a lot of time skimming the DVD listings on eBay, and a couple days ago I scored the nearly forgotten Hollywood teen-sex classic Little Darlings on DVD via someone with the user name “forgotten films”. It’s a rare homemade bootleg these guys offer, but is the best quality bootleg I’ve ever seen. Animated menus, extra features… the works.
There isn’t much to be said in terms of back story for this review except that I saw the movie when I was 12 and because of it I acquired a MAJOR-HEAD-OVER-HEELS crush on both of the movie’s headliners: Tatum O’Neal and Kristy McNichol. Seeing the movie again for the first time in 20 years, I’m amazed at how well it holds up…
Yes, I was poppin’ wood all the way through, and boy did I feel dirty and a tad guilty about that. Why? Because the movie happens to be about two fresh faced gregarious 15 year olds having a friendly competition to see who can loose their virginity first. Hardly a politically correct inducement for a steamer.
Tatum plays “Ferris,” a soft, nubile, high society rich girl, while Kristy is a chain-smoking, tight-denim-wearin’ tomboy from the wrong side of the tracks named “Angel.” They clash on the bus to summer camp, and are quickly targeted by the popular sex-obsessed camp tramp who pits them against one another in a peer-presure packed competition to see who will envelop wiener first. Pretty soon the entire camp of girls is taking sides, with some of them betting decent amounts of coin on their hymen of choice being ruptured.
The whole concept seems from the outset an exploitation-enriched dogturd steeped in sleaze, although it actually plays out rather sweetly — if you don’t count the fact that Tatum’s darkly hued underage nipple pops out of her swimming suit in one scene that seemingly went unnoticed at the time. (I come equipped with eagle eyes when it comes to the wardrobe malfunctions of my various crushes.)
But for once I’m not reviewing a movie by typing with my penis, and thank god — because boner inducement is not the only reason to partake in the magic that is Little Darlings. This, astonishingly, is somehow a sincere and poignant coming of age story as well as a dorky bubblegum teen movie. It’s a little weird to admit, but the other night while watching McNichol’s tender deflowering scene (with a young, toned, babyfaced — ladies take note — Matt Dillon), I actually found myself nearly moved to tears. And that heartfelt reaction was all because of Kristy’s brilliant, colorful, natural performance which pulls the entire movie out of the gutter and into Academy Award territory. Although O’Neal is enjoyable enough and downright endearing at times in her role as the cultured and naively romantic lolita, it’s truly the gifted and tragically underrated Kristy McNichol that steals this entire show.
The DVD I got is a direct transfer of the early ’90s released VHS, (which now garners as much as $80.00 on the collectors market) and is the same as the film I saw when I was but a wee sexually frustrated lad, except that some soundtrack music is missing due to publishing rights. The Belamy Brothers “Let your love flow” no longer plays out over the end credits, and even worse is that Mary McGregor’s “Good Friend” is MIA. But I’m not too upset since Blondie’s “One way or Another” is still there during the condom thievery scene, and at least the movie isn’t the chopped UPN cable version that aired in the early ‘90s — which had entire scenes (the racy ones) lifted and trashed.
Jesus, after all these years, I’ve fallen back in love with this film. New favorite ’70s teen movie. NEW FAVORITE. There isn’t a better feeling than losing yourself in a cinematic experience, and I got sucked right into this one (mmm… sucked…). I’d tell you to run right over to eBay and buy one off “forgotten films,” but as of a few days ago, they’re no longer a member, and it’s suddenly impossible to even contact them.
I cringe at the thought that they may have been kicked off the online auction site because of a fleeting glance at young Tatum’s darkly hued “tater.”