Nostalgic Cinema

The Single Girls (1974)

The Single Girls (USA, 1974) 83 min color DIR-PROD: Beverly Sebastian, Ferd Sebastian. SCR: Ann Cawthorne, William Kerwin. MUSIC: Peter J. Elliott. DOP: Ferd Sebastian. CAST: Claudia Jennings, Jean Marie Ingels, Cheri Howell, Joan Prather, Greg Mullavey, Victor Izay, Albert Popwell. (Dimension Pictures)

Now here’s an unusual concept: members of an encounter group have their sexcapades at a weekend retreat interrupted by a mysterious killer. This sarcastic thriller is perhaps the most interesting picture by the filmmaking couple of Ferd and Beverly Sebastian (who made some curios like On the Air Live with Captain Midnight and Delta Fox). Of their work, it is perhaps also the most ‘of-its-time’, painting a less-than-flattering portrait of swinging singles in that excessive decade. Despite the thriller trimmings and the expected doses of sex, this is largely a character study of despair in which nymphos and celibates alike have sexual hangups. Most of the male characters are such socially displaced souls -oh, like those who only come out of their apartments to attend memorabilia fairs or small press shows- that one wonders how they ever hooked up with these babes in the first place.

The only male who seems confident and personable is played by Albert Popwell (best remembered in the “six shots or only five” scene in the first Dirty Harry, but would play different roles in the three subsequent films). It is interesting to see Claudia Jennings (who also appears in the Sebastians’ Gator Bait), cast against type as an ingenue. For the most part, this is a fascinating blend of murder mystery, sexploitation and psychoanalysis. Interesting too are the excellent “fly on the wall”, documentary-like scenes full of stuttering overlapping dialogue where the characters discuss their feelings in encounter meetings- these moments don’t feel like a movie at all. The Single Girls is a curio to remember.