• Score (Uncensored Version)



    Released by: Cult Epics
    Released on: 10/12/2010
    Director: Radley Metzger
    Cast: Claire Wilbur, Calvin Culver, Lynn Lowry, Gerald Grant, Carl Parker
    Year: 1973
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    The Movie:

    Based on the Off-Broadway play (which starred a then unknown actor named Sylvester Stallone) off the same name and adapted by writer Jerry Douglas, Radley Metzger’s Score is a witty and scorching hot look at the (literally) swinging seventies. Unlike the play, that was based in a Queens apartment, the film takes place in the mythical City Of Leisure (actually a small seaside town in Croatia) where we meet a young married couple named Betsey (Lynn Lowry) and Eddie (Calvin Culver). All seems well in their life, though one morning when Eddie, a photographer, goes off to work Betsey decides to spend the morning with the neighbor, Elvira (Claire Wilbur, the only holdover from the stage version to appear in the film), unaware that she and her husband, Jack (Gerald Grant), are swingers and have their eyes on her and Eddie.

    When, during Betsey’s visit, Elvira seduces the phone repairman, Mike (Carl Parker), and proceeds to have sex with him on the floor right in front of bashful Betsey, she decides not to return for dinner that night as planned. Eddie, however, arrives just in time and persuades her to join them. As the evening plays out, alcohol is ingested, marijuana is smoked and poppers are popped as inhibitions lower, characters come out of the closet, and the truth about the stability of our young married couples’ relationship is exposed.

    Straddling the line between hardcore pornography and softcore art film, Score is a pretty remarkable film and one of Metzger’s best known pictures for a few reasons. First off is the cinematography. One of the few instances in which Metzger worked as his own cinematographer, the camerawork here ranges from simple, static shots to tripped out swirling works of painterly psycho-sexual art. Shot with an eye for detail and a great sense of color composition, little things that you might not notice such as frilly costumes or shag bedding all add up and start to make a really indelible impression. Score is a beautifully shot film that makes great use of its (mostly) indoor locations, mid-seventies decor and winds up as atmospheric as any other sex film you could care to name. On top of that it’s all set to a remarkable score, highlighted by an opening song, ‘Where Is The Girl,’ performed by some band that Metzger found that could and should have gone on to better things.

    Performance wise, all involved do an impressive job. The more naïve character played by Culver and completely knowing character played by Grant are both entirely believable and in this day and age where homosexuality is far more commonplace than it was over thirty years ago when this picture was made it might be easy to see where this is all going, by the standards of the day what happens between these two actors would have been pretty strong and daring stuff. The same relationship develops between the two female leads, with Wilbur’s Elvira taking the lead and bringing Lowry’s beautifully innocent Betsey into her world and for her own reasons and the competition that plays out between Elvira and Jack anchors the film and its fairly simple plot.

    In the hands of a lesser cast, this picture could have failed miserably but it’s hard not to be blown away by the acting here, particularly Lowry’s performance. They give their characters such a believable lust and passion that it’s not at all difficult to buy them in their roles – you will believe these people want to fuck, and while that may sound crass or unnecessary, it’s key to the success of an erotic film.

    Rhythmically edited and written with an acerbic wit, Score is funny, charming and most importantly, very sexy. Those with an aversion to homosexuality on screen won’t make it past the menu but anyone with an open enough mind to appreciate the scenarios that play out here will wind up enveloped in ninety minutes of some of the hottest and heaviest on screen sexual tension you’re ever likely to see.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Cult Epics presents the uncut version of Score on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1.78.1 widescreen 1080p high definition transfer that is generally pretty strong. Those with an aversion to grain or minor print damage might be put off by the specks that appear throughout but there’s a very strong increase in both clarity and detail over previous releases of the film and the image is definitely cleaner looking than it has been in the past as well. Color reproduction is great and skin tones look nice and natural as well. Black levels aren’t reference quality but they fare quite well and sharpness and contrast are set properly. There aren’t any problems with noise reduction, heavy edge enhancement or compression artifacts and generally this is a pretty strong, film like transfer.

    The sole audio option on the disc is a standard definition Dolby Digital Mono mix, no lossless option is provided. That complaint aside, the audio sounds fine here. The music used throughout the film sounds nice and punchy without coming across as too loud in the mix, and while there are occasional instances where you might notice some mild distortion, if you’re not listening for it you probably won’t notice and it’s never enough to really be much of a bother. Dialogue is always easy to understand, the levels are well balanced, and it all sounds fine for what it is. No subtitles or alternate language options are provided.

    The best extra on this disc is a commentary track courtesy of director Radley Metzger moderated by film historian Michael Bowen. Metzger doesn’t watch his films so don’t expect a scene specific talk here, instead it plays off more like an audio interview but that doesn’t take away from the track’s value at all. Bowen is smart enough to keep the track moving at a good pace and Metzger proves to be a witty and articulate subject as he talks about casting the film (and lets loose some interesting information about alternate choices), shooting the film on location in Europe, the various sexual themes that the picture deals with, the different cuts of the film that exist, how it was received when it originally played, and quite a bit more. There are periodic gaps of silence here and there but for the most part, this is quite an interesting and enjoyable listen.

    Bowen also narrates On The Set Of Score, which is over twenty minutes of footage shot on the set while the film was being made. There’s some interesting bits here as we get a rare chance to see Metzger directing his cast and the various actors and actresses preparing for their roles, while Bowen’s narration provides a valuable context for the material and makes it more than just an assembly of random fly on the wall footage. Keeping Score With Lynn Lowry is a twenty minute interview with the still charming actress in which she talks about working with Metzger and her fellow cast members on this picture. If you’ve seen the movie and ever wondered how she got that bump on her lip you’ll notice in on scene, she explains that here in addition to sharing some interesting stories about working with Claire Wilbur and how they got along, how she feels about the picture then and now, and how she got along with her male co-stars.

    Rounding out the extras on this disc are trailers for Score, The Lickerish Quartet and Camille 2000 (all in high definition), menus and chapter stops. The disc comes inside a standard Blu-ray keep case that houses an insert for other Cult Epics releases and which in turn fits inside a classy looking slipcase.

    The Final Word:

    This may not rank up there as a videophile’s favorite Blu-ray release of the year but it easily mops the floor with any other home video release of this particular film, offering up a vastly improved transfer and an impressive array of extras. The movie itself holds up well, a fun look at the swinging lifestyle very much a product of its time. Shot with style, masterfully edited, well acted and benefiting from a razor sharp wit, Score deserves the critical recognition its earned over the years and finally gets the home video release it deserves.