From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Score is the name of a sexploitation film directed by Radley Metzger that was one of the first films to explore bi-sexual relationships. It was part of the brief porn chic fad in the early 1970s that also included The Devil in Miss Jones and Deep Throat. The film was based on an off-Broadway stage play. The theatrical version was set in a shabby Queens tenement, while the film was set in an elegant, mythical land and sported a relatively high budget for an independent film of that era.
It has been released in both softcore and hardcore versions. The most recent DVD release, a soft-core version, shows a renewed copyright date of 1976 (all prints featuring the 1976 copyright are the director's approved, edited version), but the film itself was actually released in the United States in December 1973. Hardcore prints, including full-frontal male nudity and fellatio, run 91 minutes, while the ubiquitous soft-core prints were released in an 84 minute format. First Run Pictures marketed the original hardcore version on videocassette, though it was a limited release available by special mail order only. These extremely rare prints occasionally surface on eBay.
- Claire Wilbur (Elvira Jackson, the swinging wife)
- Calvin Culver (aka Casey Donovan) (Eddie, the closeted husband)
- Lynn Lowry (Betsy, the naive wife)
- Gerald Grant (Jack, the swinging husband)
- Carl Parker (Mike Nixon, the horny telephone repairman)
In the mythical European city of Leisure, married couple Jack and Elvira have an ongoing bet regarding who can seduce whom. This comes up in the wake of a swinging night with a couple of tourists picked up via a newspaper ad. Elvira, a self-professed "sexual snob" has bet she can seduce newlywed Betsy, married to handsome marine biologist Eddie. If she fails by a certain midnight, then Jack gets to seduce Eddie.
While Jack and Eddie go to work separately, Betsy comes round to visit her new friend Elvira. She's very intrigued by Elvira's open admission of her swinging lifestyle, including spouse-swapping and drugs. When Mike, the telephone repair man, arrives (Elvira had sabotaged the phone earlier just in hopes of a handsome man showing up), Betsy is fascinated and shocked as Elvira seduces him right before her eyes. She also admits that she's not really happy, especially after catching Eddy masturbating in the bathroom. But she says Elvira's actions are not for her, because at heart she is still a Catholic schoolgirl. Elvira tells a story about Jack, about just before they were married, and how he said he would "climb aboard a porcupine" if he had a mind to.
The two couples get together that night, and get slightly high on pot. Pulling out a trunk of costumes, they decide to play dress up. Jack dons a sailor's uniform while Betsy wears a very revealing modeling outfit. To Betsy's shock/tittilation (and Jack's huge amusement), Elvira's costume is based on a nun's habit, but with nothing underneath. They tease Eddy into putting on a cowboy outfit.
As the night progresses, the two wives and two husbands pair off to wander and chat. During the course of their conversations, each of the naive couple admit to dissatisfaction, including a questioning whether they ever should have gotten married. Eddie, it turns out, was Betsy's brother's best friend. There is a hint that he and Eddie were maybe closer than friends, although Eddie doesn't seem to know that Betsy might realize that. Betsy, meanwhile, lets her hair down and is even a little worried something might "happen" between her and Elvira. She also gets giddy at saying the word "fuck" for the first time. Downstairs, Jack, remarks to Eddie that just before he and Elvira were married, she commented, "Jack, I'd hop in the sack with a porcupine if it struck my fancy."
Elvira and Betsy end up in the upstairs bedroom, with Jack and Eddie in the downstairs den. A quick phone call between the swinging couple has them agree that midnight is the deadline for them both. As the late night progresses, both introduce their perspective seductees to amyl nitrate (each says the same line as they do: "Bingo!") and when asking for the time, interpret the respective watches as either "slow" or "fast" depending upon their own desires.
Both Eddie and Betsy are simultaneously seduced, receiving and giving oral sex. Betsy is even penetrated with a strap-on (while wearing a collar and leash). Eddie, penetrated by Jack, has a brief hallucination that the person making love to him is Betsy.
In the morning, Jack and Elvira consider the score pretty much even. Betsy and Eddie are confused, each thinking perhaps the other is the "normal" one. Betsy even makes a remark about them both being "porcupines." When Mike suddenly arrives for a visit, just as Jack and Elvira are getting ready to have a menage a trois with Betsy, Jack invites him, too, boasting that they "play all kinds of games around here". A chance remark brings out the fact Mike and Eddie both enjoy bowling. Somewhat to Jack and Elvira's surprise, Mike leaves to play with Eddie and Betsy, who suggests they all get together soon to play "Bingo".
- Claire Wilbur was the only performer from the original Off-Broadway play to reprise her role in the film. Both Metzger and writer Jerry Douglas wanted to retain the play's male lead (Michael Beirne as Jack), but he declined the offer due to another stage commitment. Neither Metzger nor Douglas considered hiring then unknown Sylvester Stallone, whom they felt would not fit in with the elegant European sensibility of the film.
- Although widely believed that Score was shot in the city of Zagreb, then in former Yugoslavia and now the capital of independent Croatia, this is incorrect. All locations in Score were filmed in Bakar, Croatia, a seaport and small village located about 15 km from Rijeka, south of Zagreb in the Kvarner region of Croatia.
- There is a sixth speaking role in the film, the actress who plays Gerald Grant's photography assistant. She is uncredited for her one line, and has never been identified.
- According to Radley Metzger, the interior scenes of the house owned by the swinging couple were shot in three different homes. This was necessary because the original home was being rented by a Yugoslavian government official who continually ordered the crew to leave the home. Metzger disguised the change in location through ingenious editing techniques.
- In an interview with Stephen Gallagher for Filmmaker magazine, Metzger revealed that the film originally had a four-week shooting schedule but was extended to nine because he had just one cameraman/lighting director. To save time, Metzger operated the camera himself. This was the only film in Metzger's career in which he acted as both camera operator and director.
- According to the biography on Lynn Lowry's homepage, Claire Wilbur (a veteran stage actress) became upset during filming on discovering that Lowry (a newcomer) was earning three times as much money as Wilbur. This created tension that lasted throughout the shooting.
- In a July 2007 article for the Desert Valley Times News , Claire Wilbur's longtime friend Margaret Caldwell wrote that years later, Wilbur commented that she wouldn't have accepted the film role if she had known it would be the feature for which she was best-remembered. Wilbur claimed that she only took the role for the money, which she needed to bankroll a short film written and directed by friend Robin Lehman.
- Of the five main actors in the film, only Lynn Lowry and Carl Parker are alive as of January 5, 2007. Both Cal Culver and Gerald Grant died from complications related to AIDS, Culver in 1987 and Grant in 1993. Claire Wilbur died from lung cancer in 2004. Contrary to popular belief (and what a Score DVD featurette might claim), Carl (Carlton) Parker is not dead. He is now a real estate broker in Delaware County in central New York State.