Any exploitation film fan who grew up in the ’80s has a soft spot for the mid-to-late 70s softcore erotica that played on late night cable. This fondness isn’t just nostalgia talking: the best of these films were as fun as they were titillating. The cult classics in this genre took a playful, sensual-minded approach to sex and created an all-around cinematic experience that delivered solid storytelling and style along with the expected erotic encounters.
Felicity is an excellent example of this balancing act. In traditional genre style, the film’s focus is the young lady who gives it its one-word title: Felicity (Glory Annen) is a boarding school student who receives a Hong Kong vacation as a gift from her father. She’s sexually curious so she wastes no time in turning her trip into an exotic/erotic odyssey. With the help of her new, more worldly friend Mei Ling (Penthouse pet Joni Flynn), Felicity explores the bounds of her sexuality as she samples every delight the city has to offer. Along the way, she also meets Miles (Christopher Milne), a photographer who introduces romance into Felicity’s erotic equation…
The end result is practically a ‘greatest hits’ of 1970’s softcore erotica: it includes the sexual awakening of a virginal yet very horny heroine (complete with breathy narration at key points), sapphic shenanigans in a girl’s school, casual nudity in the shower/bath/dressing room, Asian massage parlor and brothel sequences, sex in a variety of public places ( a plane, an elevator, a bus, etc.) and even some good old-fashioned schtupping in a bed. As the aforementioned litany reveals, writer/director John Lamond did his homework on what genre fans liked – he even works knowing references to 70’s erotic novels Emmanuelle, The Story of O and Fear Of Flying into the visuals and dialogue.
More importantly, Lamond applies a lot of care and craftsmanship to his work. He gives Felicity the glossy, soft-focus look that Just Jaeckin and David Hamilton favored around this time and it really augments the film’s sensual mood. Lamond also takes great pains to choreograph the erotic goings-on in a manner that brings out their heat without losing sight of the film’s gentle, stylish fantasy tone. The Hong Kong locales supply an appropriately exotic backdrop and the well-chosen library-music score utilizes effective lite-funk and soft-rock stylings to enhance the amorous tone of the sex scenes. There’s also an original title song, “Mama’s Little Girl,” that will be stuck in your head long after the credits roll.
Best of all, Felicity features an attractive girl-next-door heroine who is as likeable as she is pretty. Glory Annen, a veteran of Norman Warren films, lends some human warmth to flesh out the inherent fantasy quality of her character. She brings a girlish charm to her character’s curious nature and her uninhibited work in the sex scenes played a big role in the film’s Skinemax classic status.
It’s also worth noting that Christopher Milne provides a good match for Annen as Felicity’s lusty but good-hearted photographer paramour. Their chemistry brings an emotional content to their sex scenes, especially their first love scene – it’s one of the hottest (yet most romantic) sequences in softcore film history. Elsewhere, Joni Flynn’s performance is rougher around the edges but she’s very easy on the eyes – in fact, she looks like a Eurasian version of Laura Gemser.
Ultimately, the test of a film like this is if it can entertain the viewer between the sex scenes. Felicity passes that test with flying colors. It’s a vivid reminder of the days when softcore erotica took storytelling and cinematic quality as seriously as it did the sex.