The Sporting Club (1971)
User ReviewsAdd a Review
Linda Blair plays the character Barby here, she is only a child but she got the eyes of the an angel and the voice of a goddess. She play the party very well. Nobody would know that this little child will have the part in one legendary horror film named The Exorcist after this film.
The nominal protagonist is James, an ordinary guy living an ordinary life. A college friend, Verner, invites him up to the lodge of the sporting club of which he is one of the youngest members. Verner is an angry, troubled young man, obviously deeply wounded by something. Verner is the kind of guy who has two dueling pistols and goads people into mock duels using blanks, which are not deadly but still quite painful at close range. With Verner is his voluptuous girlfriend Janey; when James arrives, Verner tells him to go and introduce himself to Janey, adding, "That's what I do all day." We are treated to cute scenes such as James spying on Janey while she is sunbathing nude, and Verner mooning the local high school from a school bus. This season is a special one at the club; it is the hundredth anniversary of the founding of the club, and the time capsule deposited when the club was founded is to be dug up and opened on the centennial day. All of the members arrive in their Cadillacs, Buicks and limousines. They are the direct descendants of the founders, as club membership is hereditary. They are the quintessence of upper-class respectability, staunch conservatives and straight arrows, but in the privacy of the club, they let go and become petty, bickering, shotgun-toting primitives. The lodge's caretaker is Earl (Jack Warden), who is very shabbily treated, and who is pals with a group of local bikers. Inevitably, the club members come into conflict with the bikers and Earl, who has wound up on the losing end of one of Verner's "duels." The confrontations escalate until eventually the lodge is dynamited and the club members are all tarred and feathered in a colossal act of revenge by the bikers. Nevertheless, the club members regroup and soldier on, gathering at the appointed time to open the time capsule. When the time capsule is opened, the club members are astounded to discover that their "sporting" club began life, back in the 1870s, as a colony of radicals who practiced nudism and free love. (This was presumably supposed to invite reflections on the 1960s and their ramifications.) The club members then cast off their few remaining inhibitions and indulge in an orgy (not a very arousingly filmed one, though). During this, in a scene I don't remember too clearly, Verner gets shot with one of his dueling pistols, but it turns out that this time, the bullets weren't blanks, and he dies, in a scene of disgusting slow-motion hematemesis.
The lead actors were all refugees from TV soap operas. Also appearing were Richard Dysart a decade before L.A. Law, Ralph Waite just before the Waltons and Linda Blair just before The Exorcist. This is an angry, grating, unpleasant, violent, vulgar film that is not even redeemed by being thought-provoking.