Monday, August 17, 2015

#1,827. The ABC's of Love and Sex: Australia Style (1978)

Directed By: John D. Lamond

Starring: Sandy Gore, Michael Cole, Robyn Bartly

Tag line: "A Joyous Lesson in Love, Sex and Sensuality"

Trivia: Maj-Brith Bergström-Walan of the Swedish Institute for Sex Research received a 'special appearance' credit

Director John Lamond’s 1978 documentary The ABC’s of Love and Sex: Australia Style begins, innocently enough, with an animated segment feqaturing a sex education class, in which a kindly, grey-haired professor puts the textbook aside to instead show his students a movie. The animation style, a combination of stop-motion and puppetry, reminded me of the old Rankin-Bass holiday specials (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Year without a Santa Claus), but once the film proper kicked in, the child-like innocence of this opening sequence quickly melted away. An alphabetized journey through the world of human sexuality, The ABC’s of Love and Sex: Australia Style is as far removed from a kid’s movie as you can possibly get.

With 26 sequences, each based on a different letter of the alphabet, The ABC’s of Love and Sex: Australia Style covers everything from masturbation to group sex, all acted out by a dozen or so good-looking models (who rarely wear any clothes). Beginning with “A is for Anatomy”, where we’re given a basic lesson on the differences between men and women; and ending with “Y is for You” (apparently, they couldn’t come up with anything for “Z”), which contains a nudity-filled musical montage of some of the film’s more erotic scenes, The ABC’s of Love and Sex: Australia Style delves into the wonders, and sometimes the depravity, of sexual exploration.

Not all segments are given equal time. Both “D is for Dreams”, which covers sexual fantasies (including “The Mile High Club”, aka sex on an airplane, and making love in an elevator) and the two separate sequences dedicated to the letter “E” (“Erotic” and “Erogenous Zones") run much longer than “T is for Temptation”, which is over in about 30 seconds. In addition, those segments you’d think would be the raciest, like “M is for Masturbation”, seem tame when compared to others (ironically, the majority of the film’s hardcore sex scenes pop up in “L is for Love”). And despite the presence of Sweden’s Maj-Brith Bergström-Walan, a noted psychologist and a proponent of sex education, The ABC’s of Love and Sex: Australia Style isn’t what I would call an informative documentary (you won’t learn anything about sex that you didn’t already know). Like Lamond’s earlier movie, Australia After Dark, this is straight-up exploitation posing as an educational experience, yet thanks to its lighthearted approach to the material, as well as the skillful manner in which its presented, I found I really didn’t mind the film’s deceptive format.

Granted, not everyone will enjoy this movie; the “H is for Homosexuality” segment alone will offend a fair portion of the audience (a campy party scene, where a group of effeminate gay men make catty comments about one another, is followed by a sensual yet tastefully presented lesbian encounter). But if you can get past its deficiencies, you’ll find that The ABC’s of Love and Sex: Australia Style is an entertaining, and often quite steamy, bit of ozploitation magic.

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