Lesbian antics aren’t particularly alien to the world of Radley Metzger (and even less so in the realm of hardcore), but gay male couplings were and still remain the erotica equivalent, more or less, of slipping a Roofie into a jar of Gerber’s mashed carrots. Hence Metzger’s adaptation of Jerry Douglas’s stage play Score, or No One’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf!, emerges as almost unquestionably the most transgressive of the director’s nominally softcore films (even in the down n’ dirty cut featured on this new “uncensored” Blu-ray, Score’s penetrations are mostly suggested, not clinically depicted), not by design or execution, but simply by mere existence. In the film, Jack and Elvira (Gerald Grand and Claire Wilbur) play George and Martha to Eddie and Betsy’s Nick and Honey, with the sexually liberated couple (“liberated” being tantamount to libidinous in this film’s fairy tale, faked-French Riviera setting, once again filmed in Yugoslavia) hoping to corrupt the uptight, fresh-faced innocents (played by gay porno proto-superstar Calvin Culver and the aforementioned Lowry, whose button nose it would appear Michael Jackson had been attempting to emulate via plastic surgery all this time).
Jack and Elvira have defined their marriage as a long-running competition in which points are accrued with each successful seduction of an outside party, and same-sex trysts are worth double. The entire film, all cheeky double-entendres and dress-up games, is but the prelude to a virtuoso extended sex diptych with the ladies wearing out Elvira’s supply of dildos, chiffon scarves, and amyl nitrate in the upstairs boudoir and Jack successfully breaking the penetration barrier with not-so-reluctant bottom Eddie in the basement den among 8mm gay porn loops and neon blue shag carpeting. Metzger’s direction is flawless, demonstrating an awareness of his unwitting audience’s impending skittishness toward pansexuality by playing up the moments of nervous humor and wide-eyed zeal in his undeniably attractive “innocent” couple. (Betsy turns “Am I high yet?” into the chipper chorus to her own deflowering.)
At the same time, prudes be damned, Metzger doesn’t soft-sell the gay sex in the slightest. He even gleefully muddies up the fragile mindset of Eddie (obviously the character the predominately straight male audience of Metzger’s heyday would have to identify with, since he holds out the longest) when he imagines his wife pounding his ass in place of Jack, the two switching places until he finally settles on Jack. Don’t look now, boys, but that’s your façade of masculinity being treated like the adolescent posturing it is—and by your greatest cinematic ally, even.
Are the wrinkles and rolls of vintage '70s porn-lite ready for high definition? The results of Score's Blu-ray release suggest they are. Mostly because the digital cleanup isn't all that fastidious. Of course, it looks leagues better than the First Run Features DVD release from a few years back, but we're still crotch-deep in gauzy, Vaseline-lensed territory here. The audio mix is negligible, with all dialogue coming in hot (and not in the "…and bothered" sense) and the foley effects seemingly beamed in from another room. But, hey, pervs like me can enjoy director Radley Metzger's groundbreaking male-male, female-female sex scenes in their uncut glory. You haven't lived until you've seen Cal Culver take it like a man in HD.
Of all the extra features, none seems more potent than that aforementioned "hardcore cut," which adds about seven minutes' worth of mostly gay-male sucking and fucking into the movie's climax. Also included in the bonus features is a more-or-less final word on whether Metzger preferred the softcore or hardcore cut of Score better. At the time, Metzger seemed to tip his hand toward the less explicit cut, but in his commentary track with film historian Michael Bowen, he indicates that he thinks the hardcore version actually plays better. That said, the copious moments of silence on the commentary track during those later scenes indicates the two weren't actually watching the hardcore version while recording their thoughts, so who knows. Maybe he just prefers whatever version he isn't watching. Elsewhere on the disc is a pair of behind-the-scenes featurettes. One features a lot of grainy 8mm footage of the cast and crew getting good and shirtless on the set, and the other is an extended interview with star Lynn Lowry, who dishes about how her female co-star Claire Wilbur gave her the cold shoulder (and probably other body parts too) during the entire shoot after Lowry misguidedly admitted to how much she was earning. (Her paycheck was about three times higher than Wilbur's.)
The hardcore version of Score stands shoulder (or dick) with screenwriter Jerry Douglas’s more notable recent works: Jock-a-Holics, Buckleroos: Part I, and Buckleroos: Part II.