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I just purchased the DVD of this movie and I wasn't very pleased. In fact the DVD was so bad that I can't really give the movie a fair rating or review. First, the print was awful..very washed out scratchy. Second, and worst of all, the film was obviously cut. It looked as if they used a "TV" version of the film. Every possible "bad" word was cut from the film any scenes that might offend, that is any and all nudity. And for a film such as this one that's really crime since the nudity is one of the main points of the film. The company that released this DVD (I think it was Platinum or something like that) deserves to go out of business. And if should be a crime to release any film on DVD that's been cut and that hasn't been remastered from the best possible source. A total waste of money.
The fictional Harrad is a privately endowed auxiliary college where
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Harrad Experiment is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen in my
life. Unfortunately, it was meant to be a serious drama and not a comedy.
Anyway, here are my 10 favorite moments from the film:
1. Sheila arriving at the college and going over to a tree to hug it for no apparent reason.
2. The nude yoga class.
3. The overly dramatic music played as Wilson comes up the stairs before catching Stanley with Barbara.
4. The egg contest at the restaurant.
5. Stanley offering Sheila to the old man for $50... and the old man's cape.
6. Sheila's reaction to finding out about Stanley and Beth.
7. The lady performer at the improvisational show.
8. Tippi Hedren's fall during the badminton game.
9. Tippi seducing Don Johnson on the college's front lawn.
10. The dialogue at the ending (zoom, zoom, etc.).
This was a very low budget film from the 70's and that fact painfully shows over the course of the movie. The acting, editing, music, and everything else is very poorly done. Of course, that's also what makes the movie so much fun to watch, even today. I would highly suggest trying to track down a copy of this campy classic. It's a fun way to spend an evening. A word of warning however, several of the DVD releases contain the version edited for televison! I have no idea why they would release the film in such a way. It's very poorly edited also: the scenes that contained nudity look choppy and several of the bad words are muted right out, they're not even dubbed over. So overall, this is a great movie that you should definitely try to see, just be careful as to which version you're getting!
The original, theater and maybe VHS, were excellent. I have bought two different DVDs of this movie and both were horrible TV versions. The first was from Amazon (Passion Productions, 98 minutes (?) and no nudity or language and the color was orange like from a really old film that hadn't been taken of. The BN (Platinum) had much better color (90 minutes) but it was about the same "cut to death" version losing the kids working on nudity and bleeped language that is on TV today. One really great lesson that hasn't been mentioned is Tenhousen's (sp?), James Whitmore, teaching, "People only recognize an action as love when it is the same kind of love that they give." I learned something from that and I have run across many real life examples to support that observation. I would still like to get a DVD that was the theater version that I saw but I don't know how I would recognize the version after being burned twice.
The 1970's brought the movie rating system. The system allowed both nudity
and overt sexuality into American films. Hollywood was trying to capture the
youth market in a way they never had. This led to a number of "hip" youth
low budget oriented movies. Some tried to capture a moments in time such as
"The Trip". Some worked only as satire such as "The Seniors". Some tried
social commentary as "The Harrad Experiment". All had common dominators:
young people, sex and skin.
Some hold up as a time capsule, "The Trip". Some as a silly nudie farce, "The Seniors". And some are just dull. "The Harrad Experiment" falls into this category. What was shocking to one generation, such as "The Chapman Report" and "Peyton Place", becomes boringly silly to future ones.
It's not a bad film, its just a dumb film. Still, if you are interested in seeing youngish Tippi Hedren in bra and panties or a very young Don Johnson's backside; it's worth a look. Just remember, you've been warned.
Sheila: Do you like a girl who makes it right away. Stanley: Yeah if
I'm the guy.
The "Harrad Experiment", which is based on the 1960's free love novel by Robert H. Rimmer, starts out with Sheila, Laurie Walters, arriving at Harrad Collage. Later as all the students are paired off in the main collage auditorium by the collage founder and dean Dr. Philip Tenhausen ,James Whitmore, Shelia is alone in her dorm waiting for the boy she's to share her room with.
Sheila who's very introverted and shy and as it turns out later, to one one's surprise who's watching the movie, a virgin is the only one in the collage who's partner hasn't shown up making Sheila feel even more insecure. Later that night Shelia's partner Stanley, Don Johnson,picked by the collage, through a battery of tests and interviews, arrives in her dorm room. Stanley to her surprise turns out to be the exact opposite of Sheila! Outgoing non-inhibited about sex and having what turned out to be later in the movie a roving eye for every girl and woman on the campus.
During the course of the film we see Sheila coming more and more out of her shell and learning to have a lasting relationship with Stanley. Even though Stanley cheats on her and breaks her heart a number of times. The carousing Stanly at one point of the movie had Sheila so hurt and despondent over his infidelities that I thought that she would kill herself.
During the course of the movie both Shelia and Stanley learn the hard way that when it comes to living together with someone you have to accept the bad as well as the good to make it work. Stanley to his credit sadly finds out that playing the field, when it comes to relations with the opposite sex, without any commitments is not what he thought it would be. He soon realizes that it's far better to have a life long and lasting relationship with someone who loves you as much if not more then you love them then changing partners as often as you change your socks.
Far better then what most critics wrote about the movie the "Harrad Experiment" is not anywhere as wild and unfeeling as they say it is. The sex and nude scenes are very tastefully done and there is genuine feelings in the relationships between the couples involved in the film: Sheila and Stanley an also Harry, Bruno Kirby, and Beth, Victoria Tompson. There's not the uncontrollable lust between the couples like you would have imagine by reading many of the reviews about the movie. In fact in one of the scenes when Stanley and Sheila are in a diner a costumer Sidney Bower, Robert Middleton, who overhears that Sheila is a student at Harrad Collage tries to pick her up. Sidney must have thought,like many reviews of the film would make readers and viewer believe, that girls attending that collage are loose and easy and would think nothing of propositioning them without getting slapped in the face! Maybe Sidney read one of those reviews.
The scenes between Sheila and Stanley are emotionally and heart-fully done and are so touching in some cases that they bring the audience almost to tears as well as those very emotional scenes between Harry and Beth.
A postscript to the movie "Harrad Experiment". Don Johnson met his future wife in the movie Melanie Griffith, who was an extra in the film. Melanie is also the daughter of Tippi Hedren who played Margaret Tenhausen the wife of the founder of Harrad Collage Philip Tenhausen.
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
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 ).
A review that came before me listed top 10 unintentionally funny
moments in the film, which I am going to reiterate/add to. It is the
only way to truly enjoy the film. Don't read this if you actually want
to experience these priceless moments freshly for yourself.
1. The opening credits tree hug.
2. "You don't need to lose any weight."/"Neither do you!" (Then the two kiss passionately)
3. Make-out scene simultanously occurring as a conversation about stamp collecting takes place. By the same people.
4. The fashion and hair!
5. Don Johnson repeatedly in scenes with massive pit stains, without any trace of pre-occurring hard labor. (And then he proceeds to make out with whoever is there.)
6. The redhead girl saying "That was wonderful!" to her roommate, after he punches Stanley after he walked in catching her making out with Stanly.
7. The music really is overly dramatic. Both the score and the acoustic guitar-laden ballads with priceless 70's lyrics, one song sung by Don Johnson himself!
Good points in film:
1. Don Johnson in wonderfully tight clothes and sometimes without them.
2. The enjoyment coming from the whole 70's aesthetic and seeing a story line unfold that is so foreign to our 21st century minds.
3. A way of looking at the feeling of jealousy, and dealing with it, that isn't really presented anymore. I decided to shed some of my own hard feelings regarding relationships after some reconsideration prompted by this film.
My friends and I read the HARRAD EXPERIMENT by Robert Rimmer as nervous
teenagers in the early 70s. The book was a manifesto for sexual
awareness and responsibility, a call for a rational development of
sexual activity on a cultural basis. Of course at the time, we were
just looking for the hot parts....
Anyway, the movie makers were given the thankless task of transforming the book and apparently cound not decide whether to make it a polemic or a soap opera. Worse, the plot they chose betrays the format of the book, where the narrative was shared equally buy two men and two women. The film concentrates on Johnson's character, maligning him and transforming the film into his character's unwilling education in sexual responsibility.
Bruno Kirby doing full frontal nudity? Brrrrr..........
I caught this on cable years ago. It was the full uncut version--I hear
some of the DVD versions are edited.
Something about a bunch of students (among them a very young Don Johnson) going to college and experimenting with sex, sexuality and male/female sex roles. What was probably fascinating in the 1970s is laughably dated today. The "insights" are obvious, the characters are bland, the dialogue is priceless ("zoom") and the 70s hair and fashions are scary. Also the casual sex going on in this is unsettling in this day and age. It's not a good movie but I kept watching--it's so silly that it's kind of fun.
The only thing that made this bearable are the nude scenes. There is plenty of casual male and female nudity--more than you would see in any modern film. Don Johnson is nude quite a bit and there is full frontal of him--but back then he had long hair and wasn't exactly in the best of shape.
So if you want a few good laughs and some nudity (in the uncut version) tune in. But this is really not a good movie. I give it a 3.
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