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 ... See full summary »
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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
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James Whitmore's glasses keeps pushing his glasses back up his nose throughout the introductory speech, sometimes seconds apart as the cameras switch between long and close up shots. See more »
I just watched a bowdlerized version of "The Harrad Experiment". I'd heard of this movie, but had never seen it. It stars Tippi Hedren, James Whitmore Jr., and a very ( almost unrecognizably ) young Don Johnson.
The story concerns a small college which has gone co-ed to an extreme. Boys are deliberately room-mated with girls, and the couples are encouraged to have sexual intimacy.
Now, had that sort of film been made, today, you'd have a mind-boggling, no-holds-barred sex-fest; but back in 1973, they made a sort of tentative pastel-water-color story with bland characters and dialogue, sprinkled with curses the actors seem to choke while saying. Mind you, I wasn't disappointed, I was relieved. This movie is sort of an icon of modern 'sex as salvation' subject matter in film.
The movie comes off as a kind of bland, sex-driven "After-School Special". The script is vanilla and cliché-ridden; with lots of pop-psychology and not-quite-there challenges to 'old-fashined' mores.
Hedren and Whitmore are the married professors conducting the experiment. We never quite know whether they're actually ( hypocritically ) condoning 'free-love' or whether they're trying to point out to the students that monogamous relationships really are the strongest. Either way, they are dangerously close to law-suits. The curriculum is so wishy-washy that, in comparison, Alfred Kinsey's 'research' looks like the Sodom and Gomorrah Pride Parade ( actually, it probably was ). Intimacy seems to be their real goal, rather than merely pandering to one's sexual gluttony, but they are terribly stupid in encouraging 'sexual freedom' as a means of discovering that.
The style of the film is so typically early-70's with its light, cheerful, guitar background music and sunny edge-lit cinematography; that I expected Karen Carpenter to start singing "Rainy Days and Mondays". It renders the film, unintentionally, quite funny.
There are three folk/pop tunes sung in the film's background, two beautifully performed by Lori Lieberman, and the last by ( what?! ) Don Johnson, himself, and not badly, either.
Other than the Lieberman songs, the only real highlight of the film is an amusing improv team ( The Ace Trucking Company -- featuring a young Fred Willard ) performing on the topic of 'group marriage'.
Most likely, the film would have seemed maybe 2% edgier with all the nudity and G-D's left in, but I seriously doubt it. I could tell where the cuts were made and there was precious little eye-poison in this watery Lorimar Production.
A real surprise is that one of the writers was ( and I blinked twice when I read his name ) Ted ( Lurch, the butler ) Cassidy. He has a cameo early in the film.
I can't recommend the film, due to its themes ( insipidly as they were presented ), but I'm glad that I've been able to check off and discount another cheesy step on the ladder to our current gradual cultural downfall ( "The April Fools", "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" being others ).
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