One morning Elvira (Claire Wilbur) is sitting in the coastal village in Europe where she lives and runs over her latest plan in her mind, calling it Operation Musical Box. She and her husband Jack (Gerald Grant) have a score going of the amount of people they have seduced, and currently he is about to overtake her and beat her tally, something she is trying to avoid. A new couple has come into their orbit, Betsy (Lynn Lowry) and her husband Eddie (Calvin Culver), and both Elvira and Jack have set their sights on them as their next conquests, but exactly how good will their powers of persuasion be in the face of the couple's innocence?
No matter what Vince Vaughn may tell you, you can see proper, actual swingers in Score, the film that self-styled producer and director of erotica Radley Metzger began his hardcore efforts with. Not that the hardcore version was widely seen, as you were more likely to have watched the softer incarnation if you had ever caught this, which was aimed at, shall we say, open-minded couples of the sort depicted in the film. In fact, you can envisage Elvira and Jack settling down of an evening to watch Score on their personal film reel, and maybe even showing it to other pairs to bring them round to their sexually liberal worldview.
All the way through Metzger displays a genial tone, with aspects suggesting that this was not to be taken entirely at face value, although one presumes much of its target audience found it was difficult to have an ironic orgasm, which might well have been the curious aim of the movie. It's not exactly a ripsnorting comedy, mind you, as while there is that arch dialogue to be taken into account there's still a notable lack of quips or oneliners that might betray a winking attitude to the characters. Really it was the stuff of porno for years before and since, and simply the director's way with the camera, the well-chosen soundtrack, and his confident tackling of the actors which lent this its sophisticated air.
Naturally that air would evaporate within seconds the moment one character pointed out to another how daft all this was, but you could say that about most erotica, especially that produced in the nineteen-seventies. This particular item was adapted by writer Jerry Douglas from his own off-Broadway play, which had not featured the sex scenes, but you could go further on celluloid without getting arrested. Oddly enough, Sylvester Stallone had appeared in the original in an early acting job, although he didn't essay one of the gay roles, but here the most famous face would have been Lynn Lowry, in her customary wide-eyed innocent role that would either see her get killed or get laid in her movies.
Both of the two male leads, Culver and Grant, succumbed to AIDS in later years, which also indicates what a time capsule Score was, with its partner-swapping untroubled by the spectre of death hanging over it, something that offers it a sheen of nostalgia among those who appreciate their vintage skinflicks. In its fashion, what was trying for elegance and refinement then now looks quaint and out of its depth now, as the world has moved on, and its daring elements are more likely to raise titters than anything else these days. Look at the last scene where the sated Elvira and Jack go off to see the latest "Michael Powell", which presumably was a nod to Age of Consent and not The Boy Who Turned Yellow. And yet, the melancholy that has settled over the drama in the intervening years does offer Score its interest historically, although that's more testament to its status as a relic. A stylish relic, for all that.