NOTE: If you have not seen the 1982 film The Last American Virgin, do not read any further because this post is full of spoilers. Of course, if you have no desire to see this movie, then go ahead and read on. Or don't. See if I care. -TGOver the previous weekend, Seraphim and I were host to two of the coolest people trodding this Earth: Bolivar and Nettiemac. We didn't get to do the music trivia game we had hoped, but that's why God invented a little thing called "future visits."
One thing we DID do is watch movies. Quite a few, in fact. One of 'em was a truly underrated film, The Last American Virgin. Not to be confused with the more recent Steve Carell hit movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin (yes, we watched that one too).
Anyone who graduated high school in the 1980s (myself = 1983; Seraphim = 1987 - ditto for Nettiemac; Bolivar = 1986) can relate to the whole feel of the movie ... this puppy is chock full of memorable early '80s pop hits, like the Quincy Jones song "Just Once" .... not to mention Journey's "Open Arms", U2's first single "I Will Follow", "I Know What Boys Like" by The Waitresses (a song that just oozes 1980s) ... and much, much more.
Synopsis: Gary is the aforementioned "last American virgin." Not shy in a nerdy sense, mind you; he wasn't the target of ridicule or taunting. Lawrence Monoson played the role of Gary in such a way as to evoke a very disturbing sense of familiarity in a lot of us with a Y chromosome. Gary's two best friends -- David (the fat one) and Rick (the stud) -- form a threesome who, for much of the first half of this movie, are in an endless quest for sex ... from picking up three girls at the fast-food hangout, to patronizing a "lady of the night", to getting it on with a Charo-like nympho.
Complicating matters is a new student, Karen (played by Diane Franklin -- who was best-known for her role as Monique in the movie Better Off Dead). Gary falls for her. And I mean falls. But he's too shy and awkward to make a good impression. Unfortunately, Rick swoops in and takes her. They hit it off, which makes Gary apoplectic. A triangle is formed. Things get interesting.
Meanwhile, Gary tries to get laid. His virginity was erased by a prostitute ... a viciously mean one, at that. After an episode like that, it's a wonder he would ever want to make a bed squeak again.
What sets TLAV apart, though, is the big picture. Toward the middle, the film changes gears in a big way -- it goes from your typical "American Pie"-type teens-getting-laid flick, to a starkly dramatic turn of events which allow the characters to really develop. Gary wants sex, but deep inside you know he's seeking out more. He wants love. He wants Karen. Rick is your typical "male jerk" -- the typical wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am kind of guy.
In the middle is plump, fun-loving David (who maintains a detailed track of all his expenses -- a funny side-note involves his keeping a running 'tab' on his friends). David is something of the comic relief in this movie. Some of his lines are the funniest -- "Money -- now we're talking! Everybody put in a dollar ... the one with the biggest tool, he's the one who wins the pool!"
Basically, Rick deflowers Karen (in their school's football pressbox, of all places), knocks her up, and Rick dumps her. Gary to the rescue. Gary pawns his stereo (HORRORS!!), borrows money from his boss, raids the petty-cash pot at his late grandmother's house, and cobbles together enough money to cover Karen's abortion (this came out BEFORE Fast Times, mind you).
Karen expresses her sincerest appreciation to Gary. Gary professes his love for Karen. Karen invites Gary to her birthday party. Gary goes to a jewelry store to buy Karen a present: a locket inscribed with a message of love (how he had enough $ to buy this after liquidating much of his worldly possessions is a big mystery).
Gary shows up at Karen's house, where the party is going full-tilt. Gary finds Karen. She's in the kitchen .....
.....and Karen runs toward Gary, embracing him, where they exchange passionate "I love yous." Gary finally gets the brass ring. Both are happy, and settle in for what will be a long, serious relationship.
No, sorry. You were expecting the typical Hollywood ending? You won't find it here, I'm afraid.
What happens is, Gary shows up at Karen's house, where the party is going full-tilt. Gary finds Karen. She's in the kitchen ..... with RICK, and they're smooching. Both turn and look at Gary, who is very shocked, his smile having instantly evaporated. Rick's look says "Ha ha, sucker ... thanks for cleaning up behind me!" And "sweet" Karen? She's clearly embarrassed, but stays embraced with Rick. A tear falls down her cheek. But she says nothing.
Gary bolts out of the house, while "Just Once" plays ... gets into his station wagon (more on that in a second), and drives off. Gary starts crying. The music gets louder. The credits begin rolling. End of movie.
Back when I first saw this movie, I hated this ending. Hated it. I wanted Gary to get the girl. However, as I became an adult, and logged a lot of 40-mile stretches of bad road, I began seeing this ending for what it is: REALITY.
I like this movie more for the nostalgia factor than anything else. But also for the powerful lessons it conveys. To name several:
1) For starters, the obvious ... NICE GUYS FINISH LAST. Guys like Rick usually end up with the girl. Girls seem to like the jerks much more than the nice guys. I know that's a sweeping generalization, but that's what my own experience showed. I got lucky when I found Seraphim, but it took forever for that to happen.
2) Guys who drive their bosses' vehicles around, especially when they're pink station wagons with a his employer's logo on top (The Pink Pizza), should expect to have trouble getting any action. Which begs the question, why come Gary's parking this pizza delivery vehicle, logo plain as day, in front of the fast-food hangout ... which, arguably, represents competition???
3) This movie should've done for prostitutes what you'd think Fatal Attraction would've done for males dabbling with adultery on the side. "Ruby" was played with such ugliness by Nancy Brock. (I loved her response to David's awkward small-talk: "Are you here to interview me, or to f*ck me???")
4) Getting crabs from Ruby really sucked. There's a big moral somewhere in that one, eh? (Another favorite line: when David, Rick and Gary are trying - awkwardly - to convey their little 'problem' to the local druggist, he figures it out, leans toward 'em and asks, softly, "Your BALLS itch??!!")
We also watched another favorite of mine, the 1999 movie Election. Good stuff, although very disturbing with its realistic portrayal of teachers having sex with students, betraying trust students place in them, and the consequences of same.
What else? Oh yeah, Pass The Ammo - a very hard-to-find 1987 flick filmed in the Arkansas city of Eureka Springs ... the infamous Napoleon Dynamite ... and more.
Movies are great things. Even better when shared among friends.
Ciao for niao.
--Talmadge "A Warner Brothers First National Picture" Gleck