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 wFelicity-posere 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…

Felicity-01The 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.

Felicity-02More 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,” Felicity-03that 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 thFelicity-04e 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.