Film Review: Private Lessons (1981)

Also known as: Philly (working title)
Release Date: May, 1981 (Japan)
Directed by: Alan Myerson
Written by: Dan Greenburg
Based on: Philly by Dan Greenburg
Music by: Willie Nile, various
Cast: Sylvia Kristel, Howard Hesseman, Eric Brown, Ed Begley Jr.

Barry & Enright Productions, Jensen Farley Pictures, 87 Minutes

Review:

“Who the hell takes baths with other people, except for the Japanese, I mean. Have you heard of any?” – Sherman, “No. Nobody except the Japanese.” – Philly

Since I recently watched and reviewed Private Resort, I figured that I’d review the last film of the Private trilogy that I hadn’t covered yet. This is actually the first of the three movies, though. Also, they’re just a loose trilogy, as none of the films actually connect with one another.

This is the one I’ve seen the least and I haven’t seen it since the mid-’90s or so, when I was working at a video store and used to take home a dozen movies per week.

Private Lessons is a film that couldn’t be made today, as it actually features pedophilia. A fifteen year-old boy is crushing hard on his new housekeeper. The boy’s driver and the housekeeper devise some confusing plot for the woman to seduce the boy. Whatever, it seems so farfetched, even for being based on a book from the ’60s. But I guess they needed to have a reason to have some twentysomething foreign chick fuck a fifteen year-old, awkward kid. I’d assume that the story was inspired by The Graduate and the author just decided to do something even more extreme.

As a teen, I didn’t think the plot was that big of a deal. As an adult, I’m kind of shocked that this got to theaters but it was a very different world in 1981. While teens having sex in movies wasn’t new and sex comedies were a huge money maker in that era, seeing a minor have sex with an adult was usually just implied or the “teen” actually looked like he was twenty and not twelve.

That being said, it is what it is and it’s a product of its time. I’m fine with the film’s existence because it’s not like they were really fucking and this was made to pack teen boys into theaters, which it did fairly effectively. In fact, it made back nearly ten times its budget.

In the end, it’s not a good movie and it’s a bit of a chore to get through. But it’s also not the worst of the teen sex comedy trend… not by a longshot.

Rating: 5/10

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