Schoolgirl Report DVD series revives salacious '70s German sexploitation
Every nation had its distinct cinematic response to the sexual revolution of the 1960s and '70s. Germany's was characteristic in offering the pretense of order, "scientific" educational value, and encouraging a healthy collective morality — even if all this was usually mere gloss over the usual, more marketable qualities of copious T&A.
Encouraged by Scandinavian films already tearing down censorship barriers worldwide, Deutschland screens (the free-Western ones only, needless to say) began addressing the matter directly in 1968. Then, Oswalt Kolle, a psychiatrist's son and tabloid journalist turned celebrity sex educator, commenced making features like Sexual Partnership (1968), The Sensual Male (1970), and Your Child, That Unknown Creature (1970). These fairly sober mixtures of documentary and dramatized "case histories" were as widely translated as his writings. (Nonetheless, Kolle and his family relocated to Amsterdam, citing constant harassment by conservative German politicians and media as the cause.)
Such success inevitably attracted imitation. Dr. Gunther Hunold's Schulmädchen-Report had made best-seller waves with its collection of interviews with 14- to 20-year-old women about their sexual experiences and opinions. Enter Wolf C. Hartwig of Rapid Film, producer-distributor of such savory titles as Satan Tempts With Love (1960) and Your Body Belongs to Me (1959). He bought the book's film rights, retaining Hunold as co-scenarist and consultant for 1970's Schoolgirl Report: What Parents Don't Think Is Possible, which proved so enormously popular that an entire national subgenre was born.
The resulting series of Schoolgirl Report features stretched through the entire Me Decade. All 13 are being issued on DVD by the Impulse Pictures label of South San Francisco's CAV Distributing Corporation, a project that reaches its precise midpoint next month with 1974's Schoolgirl Report Volume 7: What the Heart Must Thereby .... Watching too many of these interchangeable vintage sexploitation "documentaries" in close succession can be hazardous to your mental health, but in moderation — as with most things - — they prove instructive.
Volume 1 set the mold, sometimes in stone: factors like the groovy Farfisa-acid guitar-flute rock instrumental theme by Gert Wilden and His Orchestra (whose original soundtracks would continue to run a delightfully dated gamut from go-go discotheque to cocktail jazz to Mantovani-like schmuzak), cheap production values, Ernst Hofbauer's on-the-nose direction, the wooden acting (despite allegedly "starring many anonymous youths and parents"), and an entire opening credits sequence would scarcely budge in film after film. More flexible within a limited range were the bodies bared by 20-something actors playing teens (seldom convincingly) and the framing devices for each installation of variably comic, dramatic, and tragic vignettes.
The first movie started with a flower-decal-covered VW full of hippie chicks and dudes driving by as a female voice says "That's us: today's youth. We want a new morality without hypocrisy." Then an actor playing a reporter announces this "effective and spontaneous documentary shows our youth as they really are. [It] will open many parents' eyes."
More likely the Schoolgirl films opened a lot of men's pants. For all the earnest jabber about "sexual prejudice and why German families hang on to it," Hartwig, Hofbauer, scenarist Gunther Heller (Hunold split after the series' launch) and company weren't interested in liberating minds — let alone promoting feminism — so much as wrapping age-old male fantasies in a cloak of socioanthropological inquiry.
Women are occasionally victimized in the Schoolgirl universe: a lone black girl is set up for gang rape by racist classmates, a country lass is forced into prostitution by loutish dad, etc. But such instances usually end up with the protagonist rescued by a convenient Prince Charming, often as our narrator urges us to question whether they brought the abuse on themselves.
The overwhelming majority of tales present a brave new world of brazenly aggressive females demanding satisfaction whenever, wherever, with whomever. Particularly with older men, including priests, teachers, bus drivers, family friends, guest workers (Rinaldo Talamonti often appears as a comedy-relief Italian stereotype addressed in terms like "Hey, spaghetti! Show us your macaroni!"), even sexy older brothers.
Their behavior sometimes edges from fantasy fodder into the fanatical, as when a married fencing instructor tells his obsessed student, "You must be reasonable!" and she replies "I'll be reasonable when I'm 75!" Or when another underage lassie brags that beyond regular partner sex, "I also do myself four or five times a day." Most disturbing is a frequent refrain of blackmail, almost invariably used by nymphets on a reluctant authority figures to maintain a sexual relationship (and/or good grades). In the ickiest instance, Volume 5's 15-year-old Margit seduces Grandpa, saying if he refuses she'll say he raped her; three months of action later he confesses to parents and police rather than endure more shame.
Ostensibly celebrating women's newfound sexual freedom, the Schoolgirl Reports often seem to regard that as a menace to society as well. (At one curious point we're informed "They're all reading Valerie Solanas' SCUM Manifesto, which turns men into slaves and a necessary evil for sex.") Needless to say, the series' major off-camera collaborators were an entirely penis-bearing roll call.
These films made tens of millions, not just in Western Europe but in overseas locations where their copious full-frontal nudity (nearly all female, of course) required cutting or fogging to meet local standards. Entries appeared around the globe under titles like Campus Pussycats, Smartie Pants, Further Confessions of a Sixth Form Girl, and Super Sexy Show. The 1980 final chapter didn't hit American screens until three years later as Making Out — quite the reduction from an original German title translating as Don't Forget the Love in Sex. Meanwhile Germany had been flooded with copycat "reports" (housewife, schoolboy, nurse, etc.), and in 1975 saw the legalization of hardcore porn. So a once ubiquitous, now quaint and bizarre example of mainstream softcore slowly petered (ahem) out.
The Impulse-CAV discs are notably stingy with extras — there aren't any, not even trailers or a horrible-English-dubbing option — but in a way that suits their blunt appeal. After all, one shouldn't expect many frills from movies wherein a dessert-spooning virgin (sex aside, ice cream appears this generation's predominant onscreen indulgence) muses that a passing motorist "could help me get rid of that bothersome hymen," or the "pathological dream world" of a girl troubled by incestuous thoughts features psychedelic imagery of Daddy menacing her nubile naked self with a shish kabob.