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At Harrad College, where controversial coed living situations are established, the students are forced to confront their sexuality in ways that society previously shunned. Part of the experiment is to pair incompatible members of the opposite sex as roommates in order to make them shun the traditional concept of monogamy. The film's primary two "couples" are the sex-crazed Stanley and ultra-timid Sheila, and insecure Harry and liberated Beth. In charge of the "experiment" are Prof. Philip Tenhausen and his wife, Margaret, who seem to enjoy the tension they instigate, as well as the graphic sexual episodes that unfold. Written by
alfiehitchie & tipsyheadrinse
Is the Harrad Philosophy relevant in 2001? Probably!
The fictional Harrad is a privately endowed auxiliary college where students attend classes at recognized schools (the acronym HARRAD comes from Harvard-Radcliff), but attend Harrad's human values seminars and live with roommates of the opposite sex.
I first saw `The Harrad Experiment' (rated `R') as a teenager, in 1973. The film was not only entertaining but, like many other teenagers, the story seriously impacted my life. I immediately dumped my boyfriend and made a pledge to never again be dominated or told what to do by a lover. Thanks to this picture, I chose a man who was able to deal with his jealousies and now our children are viewing this amazing film on video. While the 1973 film may seem dated and sluggish by '90s standards, today's teenagers are rediscovering Robert Rimmer's college manifesto of the '60s and finding that its philosophical views may be even more relevant in today's far more sexually up-tight society.
Last weekend, my eighteen-year-old daughter played a VHS copy of the film for her sorority sisters. The heated discussion that followed ran the gamut from embracing the, liberal, avant-garde ideology of Robert Rimmer's philosophy to the conservative position condemning the film as sophisticated porn.
Videos of the film are traded from college student to college student, much like the original novel. Whereas the novel was merely a free love manifesto, the film takes a slightly different approach. The film version concentrates more on the reduction of jealousy, which can be destructive in a relationship. The experiment attempts to accomplish this by requiring students to live in a dorm where they are assigned roommates of the opposite sex. The added wrinkle is that the roommates must change partners every thirty days. Little wonder that the film has become a cult classic.
Today many college dorms are co-ed. That is, rooms occupied by male and female are on the same floor, with some such rooms going so far as to share bathroom facilities. However, as we enter the new millennium the concept of being assigned attractive roommates of the opposite sex is even further from reality that it was when the film was first released.
I believe that the film's phenomenal boxoffice success is not due to the so-called Harrad philosophy but to a strong story, fleshed out characters and, of course, to the sex appeal of Don Johnson, in one of his best roles. However, as mentioned above, the film seems dated by today's quick cut, fast paced standards and suffers from budgetary limitations (I understand it was made for under $200,000). Its sequel, `Harrad Summer,' (rated `PG') made on a slightly higher budget, has much slicker production values, is faster paced, but is far less titillating (no pun intended). While I understand the sequel did solid boxoffice business (Variety summed up the film's grosses by stating, `Gidget goes to college; gets A +'), it lacks Don Johnson and bends over backwards to avoid the controversy of its predecessor.
I cannot help feeling that perhaps it's time for an updated remake. The possibilities are limitless.
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