Desires Within Young Girls (1977)

Producer Harold Lime, the Louis B. Mayer of porn, set out to make big studio type movies with all star casts, lavish production values and an upbeat message the masses could enjoy. Before hitting his stride in his justly praised collaborations with Gary Graver a/k/a “Robert McCallum” as the ’70s gave way to the ’80s (The Ecstasy Girls, Amanda by NightIndecent Exposure), he had already teamed up with another talented co-conspirator from his sexploitation days when he was better known under his real name of Ted Paramore, the man who gave the world the classic nudie cutie Not Tonight, Henry. That filmmaker in question was the sadly overlooked Richard Kanter, who had made the popular The Ribald Tales of Robin Hood prior to embarking on an all too shortlived explicit career as “Ramsey Karson”. Though his initial alignment with Lime remains his sterling achievement, he would also direct the massively underrated “loop carrier” The Untamed and the bloated if occasionally effective Sensual Encounters of Every Kind for him. For Desires Within Young Girls, a title forever targeted by moral crusaders because of its supposed paedophile suggestion (oh, get a life, you lot !), this twosome emulated Old Hollywood in their choice of material as well as style with a sexed-up rendition of the Marilyn Monroe screwball soufflé How to Marry a Millionaire.

When aging golddigger Madeleine Stone (the incomparable Georgina Spelvin) embraces widowhood for the second time as husband number 2 (John Leslie in fairly convincing old man make-up) comes and goes at the same time, if you catch my drift, she finds her amorously amassed fortune dwindling rapidly. The time is ripe to call on her two daughters from the first marriage who have been kept stashed away at a posh boarding school out of mom’s way. Now that she considers herself too old to trap a wealthy spouse, Maddie wants her girls to pick up where she left off and marry into money. While adventurous Cissy (Annette Haven displaying rarely tapped comedic abilities) is pretty much game for any scheme her mother could dream up, the more levelheaded Penny (unjustly forgotten Clair Dia who had co-starred with Spelvin in Graver’s excellent 3 A.M.) refuses to go along now that she has found love with her drama teacher Marc (also played by Leslie in more familiar loverboy mode). A maiden attempt to get Cissy hitched to a rich ranch owner’s hilariously cowpoke son (“Radio” Ray Wells) doesn’t provide the expected result. So Maddie decides to throw her offspring to the wolves – pity the wolves ! – by attending an elegantly perverted soirée thrown by her old friend and partner in slime Harrison, another expert portrayal of sophisticated sleaze by the legendary John Alderman a/k/a “Frank Hollowell”.

This lengthy sequence makes up the meat of the movie and comprises several welldone erotic encounters. A stroke of genius caused the casting of near lookalikes Bonnie Holiday, star Haven’s erstwhile girlfriend who introduced her to the industry and subsequently made history, and all but forgotten Joan Devlon (who did her finest work opposite tragic starlet Melba Bruce in William Dancer’s all too seldom seen Night Pleasures) for the obligatory Sapphic session, as the model and the snooty Baroness respectively, scored with the kind of mock Morricone music that always seemed to accompany such scenes in ’60s saucy Euro fare. Cissy’s supposed S&M session with campy General Chesley Noone (a recognizable sexploitation character actor from Walt Davis’s outrageous Evil Come Evil Go and Stu Segall’s Saddle Tramp Women) remains one of the funniest moments in any sex comedy. Penny expertly turns off – no, that’s not a typo ! – millionaire playboy Turk Lyon with Cissy stepping in for some carnal comfort. Dominatrix Sabrina (who had a small part in Bob Chinn’s very funny Hard Soap Hard Soap) wanders about threatening various participants yet remains all talk and little action. One of this reviewer’s all time favorite scenes comes – and, boy, does it ever ! – in the gentle deflowering of a devastatingly handsome Jon Martin (those familiar with his near-mummified appearance of the late ’80s are in for a serious shock) at the hands and so much more of achingly sweet Gail Lawrence a/k/a “Abigail Clayton” and fly by night starlet Stacy Evans. Annette’s frequent screen partner Paul Thomas provides the romantic capper as Maddie’s plans are sabotaged, or are they ?

A final word on Caballero’s current DVD presentation of this classic. A lengthy film for its day, when everything over 90 minutes was considered excessive, it has rarely been seen in a complete version. Alas, this is still not the case. Though they have reinstated the casually cut seduction of Clair Dia by John Leslie, an exceptionally erotic encounter I’m glad to have finally see the light of day, this apparently came at the expense of another highlight : Annette’s energetic romp with chauffeur John Seeman. An early crucial expository sequence of Georgina picking the girls up from school has also been completely removed, presumably because of the (clearly adult) actresses’ school girl uniforms and their underage implications but it makes the flick’s storyline unnecessarily incoherent. A trivia note in parting. The film’s cast contains an inordinate amount of performers who would become directors in their own right eventually. Now, Leslie and Thomas are obvious, but John Seeman would also go on to make several interesting movies like the unfairly vilified Shauna Grant showcase Virginia and the wacky all star murder mystery Ten Little Maidens (a much more erotic Agatha Christie adult adaptation than Tim McDonald’s splendidly produced yet vapid Lust on the Orient X-Press) and Clair Dia was one of all too few albeit shortlived female filmmakers with the wonderful Health Spa and its sweet sleeper follow-up Screwples.

Directed by Richard Kanter (as Ramsey Karson). Written by Kanter and Harold Lime. Produced by Lime. Photographed by Mike O’Hara. Edited by Murray Roth. Starring Georgina Spelvin (Madeleine Stone), Annette Haven (Cissy Stone), Clair Dia (Penny Stone), John Leslie (Mark/Charles), John Seeman (Martin), Bonnie Holiday (Model), Joan Devlon (Baroness), Stacy Evans (Suzy), Abigail Clayton (Suzy’s Playmate), Paul Thomas (John Dayton), Sabrina (Mistress Dominique), Jon Martin (Chris), Turk Lyon (Charles Dancer III), Ray Wells (Jace), Carl Irwin (Clark Dayton), John Alderman (Harrison Price), Ralph Jenkins (Duke) and Chesley Noone (General). Running time : 102 minutes.

Who says hardcore ain’t Hollywood ? Georgina Spelvin sharing a big screen smooch with Levi Richards in Radley Metzger’s The Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann

By Dries Vermeulen

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