Feb 22, 2018

In Every Man's Life There's a Summer of 42

During the 1980s, as the gay movement gained ground, film producers tried every way they could think of to assure heterosexual audiences that they had nothing to worry about, that gay people did not exist.  One of their most annoying attempts was a spate of movies involving young boys having sex with older women.  It was not a statutory rape, however; it was presented with flowers and hearts and swelling music, and a voiceover of their adult selves crowing "I learned about life, and love, and being a man!!!!  It was most beautiful, most fulfilling experience of my life!!!!!"

What did the older women want with the young boys, anyway, when there were lots of men their own age around, and their dalliance with the jailbait was patently illegal?  The adult voiceover usually explained: the boys were so incredibly attractive that every woman on Earth wanted them. The one they slept with just happened to make her offer first.

The annoying trend probably began with The Summer of '42 (1971), which stars Gary Grimes as 15-year old Hermie, whose hotness causes an older woman to cheat on her husband (away in the War).  He never saw her again, but that night made him a man.  The tagline even universalizes the young boy-older woman trope: "In every man's life there is a summer of '42."

Jay North played a teenager who beds The Teacher (1974).




But the genre took off in the the early 80s, with countless "bedding the teacher/tutor/friend's older sister/miscellaneous older lady" movies: Private Lessons (1981) with Eric Brown (of Mama's Family),  My Tutor (1983), with Matt Lattanzi; Class (1983), with Andrew McCarthy; A Night in Heaven (1983), with Christopher Atkins; Gotcha! (1985), with Anthony Edwards. In Weird Science  (1985), the boys (Anthony Michael Hall, Ilan Michael Smith) build an older woman robot of their own.

Why did I find these movies so annoying?

1. The promise of beefcake made them a must-see.  But the boys usually had a woman with them to ruin the swimsuit, shower, and underwear shots, and anyway they were overwhelmed by the endless breast shots of the "older woman."



2. So exuberantly hetero-horny were the boys that there was no room for men.  Sometimes men were completely missing; the cast consisted entirely of the boy and some babes.  Sometimes the boy had a best friend, but only as a sounding board, to strategize with and brag to; emotional intimacy was completely absent.


3. These movies loudly proclaimed that they represented all of male experience, that every boy who had ever lived or who ever would live longed to have sex with older women.  But they didn't just ignore gay male experience, they lovingly, emphatically, with elaborate detail, declared that no gay men exist.

8 comments:

  1. Former Senator Schmitz told his daughter that at one time statutory rape was a man's crime. After she was charged with it, of course. That was basically how sex was seen for most of history: That a Real Man would never say no to a woman.

    Also, I thought this genre began with The Graduate?

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    1. Maybe even earlier than "The Graduate" -- remember the "College Widow" in the Marx Brothers movies? But this post is only about the 1980s.

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  2. I thought The Summer of '42 was mostly lifted from The First Time (1969). Three goofy boys looking for action.

    Not sure she cheated on her husband. Wasn't the husband killed before the sex began? I suppose you could say she cheated on her dead husband. Hmmm.

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  3. I remember seeing My Tutor with Matt Lattanzi. After that I discovered that he'd worked as a model in Europe. There was a gay magazine during that period that reprinted a number of pictures that he'd done, including a couple of nudes. They were cherished possessions for a long time until I lost them in a fire. I don't remember if they included full frontal shots, but there were some rearview shots with him looking over his shoulders. Made my year.

    He was in Xanadu with Olivia Newton John and ended up marrying her. He was also in Grease 2 the bad sequel to with Maxwell Caulfield. He had a bit part in Roxanne, and a very brief scene in Rich and Famous, where he plays a hustler picked up by Candice Bergen. There's a brief flicker of nudity in the scene where she strips him naked. After that I think he ended up working in television in Australia. Don't know what happened to him after that, although he and Newton John divorced sometime in the 90s I believe.

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    1. Lattanzi graduated from high school in 1977, and started filming "Xanadu" in 1979, so his modeling career must have been during 77-79.

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  4. Someone please tell me how back then it was socially "acceptable" for a 15 year old boy to have consensual sex with an older woman and it not be deemed as a pedophilia

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    Replies
    1. They have the same storyline on "Riverdale" today, where 15-year old Archie is having an affair with his music teacher, Ms. Grundy.

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    2. I think only Americans seem to be really disturbed or offended by these kinds of relationships. For example, The Reader (2008) involved a 15-year-old German boy in a relationship with an older woman, and it was extremely well-received in many places, but some Americans immediately began accusing it of "rape" and such. Ironically, Hollywood also shows many relationships between teenage girls and older men; Rose was 17 in Titanic and Jack was actually 20. Oscar-winning film American Beauty also featured a middle-aged man attracted to his high school daughter's best friend, and it earned $350 million worldwide.

      Besides, the age of consent laws may have been different back then, as well as in many other parts of the world.

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