Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Endangered List (Case File #139) -- Found!

Four prints under the HOT AND BOTHERED title were located in 2012 and are now part of the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA)


A Carlo Ponti production

Susan Player
Hugh Griffith
Riccardo Cucciolla
Alfredo Pea
Claudio Nicastro
Rosalba Neri
Fiorella Masselli
Renzo Marignano
Lia Tanzi
Ennio Colaianni
Ralf Baldassarre

Directed by
Sergio Martino

Produced by
Carlo Ponti

Written by
Sergio Martino
Fernando Popoli
Sauro Scavolini

Cinematography by
Giancarlo Ferrando

Music by
Claudio Mattone

in Eastmancolor & Technicscope
Released by Independent-International Pictures
Re-released as HIGH SCHOOL GIRL

87 minutes
MPAA rating: R


LOVING COUSINS is a wonderful film from producer Carlo Ponti that combines the successful elements of both SUMMER OF ’42 with LOLITA – and goes them each one better. In this story of young love and sexual awakening, Ponti has chosen a new young star, Susan Player for the leading role and with good reason. Miss Player IS the entire film and Ponti’s choice was a wise one. This new actress from England is already being hailed by many of the world’s important film producers and she is now working for Warner Brothers as the star of THE ADOLESCENTS. Co-starring with Susan Player is Academy Award winner Hugh Griffith, who got his Oscar for his great role in BEN-HUR. Griffith plays the rich, lecherous old uncle who advises his young niece to go after her 18 year old cousin, who has not been initiated into manhood.


16 year old Sonia is blonde, trim of figure and a young emancipated girl. She doesn’t believe in wearing bras, she sunbathes in the nude and if the time is right and the boy is right…she loves to love.

Sonia is spending her summer vacation with relatives. Her uncle is a wealthy professor who acts very conservative and prudish about everything. In reality he is carrying on with various of the household maids and even making arrangements to set up liaisons with the housekeepers’ young teenage daughters. On the side, his most religious wife is keeping up a longtime affair with a local religious leader in the community.

Nico, the professor’s 18 year old son, is treated like a 10 year old. He is given short pants to wear and long hours to study. His studies have led him to pornographic stories which he has discovered in Latin – and reads secretly. Nico keeps up an air of great stuffiness around Sonia, but she knows that he is secretly spying on her when she is sunbathing and dressing, etc. At the urging of the lecherous old Baron, who lives in a mansion surrounded by whores who attend to him, Sonia decides to go after Nico.

Nico gets flustered at this attention and pushes Sonia off on a muscular friend who approaches all girls like an animal in heat. Sonia doesn’t like this approach, and the though of seducing Nico into his first intimacy just tickles her fancy.

Sonia sends a false telegram to Nico’s parents explaining that the old Baron is dying and they are to come at once. This requires a long car trip and leaves Nico alone in the house with Sonia.

Sonia sets up a seduction scene for Nico with delicacy and charm. She wears an old corset and long black stocking she found in the attic. When she gets Nico to come to her…she bids him to undress her and tenderly initiates him into the art of love.

The next morning Nico is sleeping and a taxi arrives at the house. Sonia takes her bags and drives off quietly – the summer is over...


It's said that cousins usually initiate each other into the art of making love and that premise serves as the basis for this film's Sergio Martino-Sauro Scavolini-Fernando Popoli script. The Carlo Ponti production, directed by Martino, has been give a sumptuous production look and it is definitely in the class of Independent-International's better attractions. Lots of nudity, mostly on the feminine side, and the presence of a fresh young face in Susan Player give the film further value. Ms. Player, who has never acted before, is remarkably poised as a free-spirited young lady who determines to introduce her repressed cousin, Alfredo Pea, to sex. Riccardo Cucciolla is Pea's domineering and lecherous father and Hugh Griffith wins laughs as the even more lecherous but lovable uncle who refuses to die and leave his inheritance. The English dubbing is generally fair, with Griffith's unmistakable voice coming through clearly. In Eastman Color and Techniscope and with a relatively short running time, "Loving Cousins" can easily top a bill or go as a single. Audiences will want to see more of Susan Player (not that she has anything more to show) and should be happy to learn that she has another film or two forthcoming.

(Boxoffice, November 8, 1976, p. 4905)

"Interminable Italian Seduction Even Fails at Soft-Core"
by Richard Eder

LOVING COUSINS is a dull, unwholesome Italian film that aims at being soft-core, but is only soft. It has as much erotic energy as two slugs coupling. It tells of the interminably slow seduction of an inhibited boy -- he looks like Pinocchio -- by his liberated girl-cousin. The hot weather is emphasized. The camera takes close-ups of mouths untidily eating fruit and salad, and of bare legs crossing. The film, which opened yesterday at the Trans-Lux 86th Street and other theatres, is opaque and blotchy. It looks as if it had been knitted.

(New York Times, November 11, 1976, p. 53)

Variety review

This Italo import, one of the many films of the prolific Sergio Martino, probably was released as a programmer in its own country, but will be harder to sell here unless emphasis is placed on its treatment of Italian morals. The only innocent in the entire film is Nico, the 18-year-old son of a provincial landowner.

Literally, everyone else sleeps around – the manor owner with most of the female servants, the wife with the village priest, the lecherous baron-uncle of the family, played with a drool by Hugh Griffith, who’d mate with anyone if he weren’t bedridden from his earlier excesses.

A cousin, blonde and beautiful but rather stupid, is sent to spend the summer and maybe pick up some education from her smart (in book learning) male cousin. It figures that she becomes the teacher but it takes the entire film to get her bashful relative into bed.

Handsomely photographed with some lovely provincial Italian scenery, it’s a pleasant but slow-paced comedy with most of its appeal to the voyeurs who like to look at almost-dressed young females (and Susan Player is, admittedly, a dish). – Robe.

(Reviewed at the 5th Avenue Screening Room, N.Y., April 5th, 1976 and published in Variety on April 14, 1976)

‘Hot and Bothered’ for Naught
by Donna Chernin

Looking over the poor choice of movies that sneaked into town over the weekend without advance notice, I figured that I would rather be “Hot and Bothered” than “Dead and Buried.”

Poor Nico, the 16-year-old central character of this inept Italian farce, would like to be hot and bothered too, but all Nico can seem to do is gawk at his blonde, bored-looking cousin Sonia, who has ostensibly come to live with them for some tutoring.

It soon becomes clear that Sonia would much rather be in the bedroom than the library. She rubs ice cubes on her cleavage, and, wearing a miniskirt, rides her bike through the dusty streets and wanders into church.

From Nico’s viewpoint, everyone is sexually active but him in “Hot and Bothered.”

Nico’s tyrannical father is sleeping with the maid, and it seems likely that Nico’s mother had been enterprising with the parish priest.

A lascivious baron, Nico’s godfather, croaks that, “The boy needs a girl, and so do I.” Meanwhile, Nico’s best friend lusts after Sonia, which makes our Nico fret and fume all the more.

If you think a good deal of panting and passion fills the screen, you are wrong. Until the scene where Sonia finally snares her prey, there is scant sex.

The symbolism is blatant, the dubbing terrible and the print scratchy.

The only amusing line occurs when Nico’s father asks Sonia, “Don’t you ever wear a bra?” She retorts, “When you have healthy legs, you don’t walk on crutches.”

While Sonia is no beauty queen, she is a far sight sharper than the gangling Nico. I kept wondering why Sonia so persistently wanted to lure Nico into bed. In any event, I just wanted them to get on with it already so that this dull and unerotic farce could end.

It is questionable how much faith the people connected with “Hot and Bothered” had with the picture. The credits are nowhere to be found. Who plays what? Who directs? Who cares? Not the manufacturers of the movie, certainly.

(Cleveland Plain Dealer, September 22, 1981, p. 4D)

No comments: