Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Schulmädchen-report 11. Teil Probieren geht über Studieren
1977, Impulse Pictures, $24.98, 80m 13s, DVD


The real maestro of the Schoolgirl Report series, Ernest Hofbauer, returns to direct this eleventh entry, which convenes around the framing story of a group of adult authorities who assemble to do a radio show on the subject of how well today's youth are protected by German youth laws. These experts include youth psychologist Dr. Hammacher (Astrid Boner); Mrs. Thea Berthold (Linda Carroll), a homemaker; Dr. Wolters (Peter Böhlke), the head of a "humanistic" high school; and Police Inspector Jenkel (Ulrich Beiger), who immediately admits that "all laws are in need of improvement."

The stories begin with Dr. Hammacher's account of Martina Behrens (apparently the radio show has no qualms about not protecting the subjects' anonymity), a failing student who relies on her straight A classmate Rolf to help her in exchange for the occasional under-the-desk feel. When she is caught cribbing his notes during a test, Martina fails her exam and is required to take Rolf as a tutor. He is willing to help but his rates are high. After losing her virginity to him, her grades improve greatly, but Rolf soon tires of her and wants to move on, setting up a tragic scenario with a surprisingly downbeat finale for an opening story.

Inspector Jenkel details the case of one Regina Schiminholz (Karine Gambier), who accuses her professor, Werner (Claus Tinney) of beating, molesting and raping her while serving as her tutor, in the presence of his menacing Great Dane. (The introduction of voyeuristic, antic animals during sex scenes is one of Hofbauer's recurring motifs.) After she reports her complaint to the school board, Werner gives his side of the story, in which Regina attended her tutorials in provocative clothing and practically raped him. It sounds absurd until a surprise third party steps forward to set the record straight.

Remarkably, up to this point, SCHOOLGIRL REPORT 11 is a virtual remake of Walter Boos' tenth series entry - with Tinney reprising much the same role in the RASHOMON retread - though filmed with more irony and panache.

Off-mic, Gila, an audio technician at the radio station, tells her male associate that she has a story she could contribute and they feign technical difficulties in order to relate it. When Gila was 16, she and her voluptuous best friend Gabi (#10's possessed girl Alexandra Bogojevic with glasses and a newly freckled face) decided they had been masturbating long enough and that it was time to experience real sex, so they made a date to meet with two boys in that most evocative of Hofbauer locations, a barn. This sequence builds to a remarkable, seismic double tryst that nearly brings down the barn and knocks over a shelf of paint cans - a minor jewel of frenzied exploitation editing that, in its energy and bucolic imagery, recalls the best of Russ Meyer.

When the broadcast taping resumes, Dr. Wolters reminisces about one of his own tragic students, Michaela Rautenberg (Yvonne Kerstin), a promising and serious young student whose school work began to suffer after her mother's health took a turn for the worse. A suicide note left in Wolters' mail box by Michaela tipped him off to her intentions in time to save her, and she confided to him and his wife the truth of her recent life, when she fell under the control of a biker gang that turned her into their sex slave and prostitute.

The fifth and final story is told by Thea about her own daughter, Heidi, still a virgin as of her 18th birthday. At her party, her thoughtful girlfriends taunt "the Iron Maiden" by relating the quick stories of their own deflorations, which are illustrated with brief vignettes involving the usual greenhouses, barns and farm animal voyeurs. Hofbauer goes so far as to cut away from one young man's exploration of his partner's public hair to the dribbling lips of a Shetland pony.

Heidi's best friend Ulla invites her over one day, on the premise of swapping clothes, but she entraps her in her bedroom with her handsome cousin Achim (Heiner Lauterbach), who has a reputation as a playboy, and refuses to let them out until Heidi is no longer a virgin. Achim admits to Heidi that his reputation is not well-earned, and the couple stage a "radio" event of their own for Heidi's eavesdropping girlfriends. Afterwards, back at Heidi's room, the film concludes with what a suddenly male narrator calls "an example of trust and love," cleverly shot through a revolving glass jar to obscure the love-making and make it more visually inventive.

While not one of Hofbauer's best films, SCHOOLGIRL REPORT 11 is recognizably his work, being an alternately manic and melancholy tour through human travails that builds to a healing finale. It has definite highlights in terms of comedy, tragedy and genuine eroticism, and it doesn't suffer from the erotic fatigue that clings to some of his later pictures. (Even in one of the film's tragic moments, a drug overdose, the revealing shot contains some editorial counterpoint by incorporating a Jimi Hendrix poster.) Again, none of the performers are credited onscreen, but even official cast lists exclude certain key roles, such as those of Gila and Martina.   

Impulse Pictures' 1.66:1 presentation - in German with English subtitles - appears to have originated from an aged, moderately noisy master with noticeable ghosting in the titles. Nevertheless, it is conspicuously more handsome and rich in audio than their SCHOOLGIRL REPORT 10, which is slightly grainier and evidently survives only in edited form. Certainly the extant Japanese and German DVD issues look no better. The color is not as gaudy as in the series' earliest entries, when the girls' fashions could match, but it is pleasingly naturalistic and, while the image loses detail as people and objects gain distance, the close-ups are occasionally smooth and appealing. The 2.0 mono track makes Gert Wilden's score a joy, with bright highs and fat lows.

Buy this title directly from Impulse Pictures here.

(c) 2013 Tim Lucas. All rights reserved.        

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.