This week's movie is the 1970s comedy/drama/soft-core sex-flick Coach!
Okay...I have to admit, right off the bat, Coach is not really a soft-core sex flick. Sure, the poster kind of suggests that, and the film was retitled Swinging Coach(!) when it was re-issued in the U.S. (wait, this film was re-issued...?), but there are very few sex scenes, and even less nudity. What kind of sex flick is this?
I guess the producers who made this movie knew that the set-up alone--an older female coach takes over a high school basketball team--would be enough to get lots of horny teenagers interested in going to their local drive-in to see this. Personally, I remember seeing this film for rent at the video store I worked at, Movies Unlimited, and I seem to recall it was categorized in our soft-core section, which of course made me think it was hot, hot, hot!
Now having seen the film, I agree with this reviewer who suggested Coach is what a soft-core flick would seem like if produced by the Lifetime Channel. The main plot is about how a high school basketball team ("The Stallions", heh) loses its coach after a really humiliating series of losses. Desperate, the school principal (played by Keenan Wynn) hires the coach whose resume--that of an Olympic medal winner--lands on his desk. He's less than happy when that coach turns out to be...gasp! A woman!
At first, Coach Rawlings (Cathy Lee Crosby, who was Wonder Woman--okay, briefly, but she was!) has a hard time keeping her players in line, because they're all teenage boys and most teenage boys are sexist pigs. But she's tough and doesn't take any crap, and eventually as the players start to play better, they respect Coach Rawlings and get to like her.
One player, Jack Ripley (Michael Biehn--Michael Biehn!), likes Coach Rawlings a lot, and they start spending time together outside of school. So much so that they start having an affair, which of course puts this movie in the unique category of feminist empowerment film and horny teenage boy fantasy, like if you asked Carrie Fisher to do a script polish on Porky's.
There's some sub-plots in the movie, like one about another player who is such a bad student he has to be hypnotized into remembering his math, with the help of a trigger word ("Jabberwocky"). They then go even further, using the same technique to make him think he's a superstar basketball player, which actually works!
There's another plot about a rich kid on the team that defends Coach Rawlings to his snooty parents (who happen to be the principal and his wife), and he angrily rebuffs their sexism, in what turns out to be a fairly dramatic, well-played scene.
There's a surprisingly small (read: none) amount of nudity in this movie. Crosby and Biehn have one sex scene in a shower that gets pretty, er, steamy (sorry), but that gets interrupted by an unwelcome school janitor. You keep expecting more, but the film never delivers, despite a decent amount of chemistry between Crosby and Biehn.
Right before the Big Game, Jack is nowhere to be seen. He shows up at the last minute, clearly mad at Coach Rawlings. He doesn't play well, and they ultimately fall way behind. During halftime, the Coach reads her depressed players the riot act, proverbially kicking them when they're down. In classic Knute Rockne style, she inspires them to play to their best--and Jack finally mentions why he's mad: he thought he saw her with another man, but it turns out to be a big-time basketball scout, there to see the team play!
When the team falls behind, Coach Rawlings herself uses the "Jabberwocky!" bit, leading to a come-from-behind win! I'd say this calls for some hot teacher-on-student loving to celebrate, no?
Turns out, no--the film ends with the team holding Coach Rawlings aloft, chanting "We're #1!" Did Jack and the Coach stay together, or did she move away when rumors inevitably started to spread? Or did she hang enough and find another student she could get involved with after Jack graduated and joined the Space Marines (wait, I may be confusing my Michael Biehn movies)?
Overall, this film will appeal to you if you like films steeped in the decade they were made in, in this case the 1970s. To be fair, Coach does have more on its mind than most films of this type, but to keep promising some hot-and-heavy content only to cut away from it is frustrating, to say the least!