Retro Film Report #13: Screwballs (Part Two)
When we last left, the 5 guys were plotting ways to see Purity Busch naked. The plot thickens...
Plan #1: Woo her with flowers and champagne
Tim arrives at Purity’s house late in the evening, wearing a smoking jacket and ready for love. Little does he know, Purity is busy dry humping her Teddy Bear. Yes, you read that right – she’s dry humping her stuffed animal and calling out “Yes! Yes!”
Tim takes this as a cue to come inside the house. Unfortunately, he can’t remember which room is Purity’s, and ends up in bed with Purity’s sex starved mother. Sure, it’s an overused plot device, one worthy of Three’s Company, but it’s funny nonetheless.
Plan #2: Hypnotize her
The scene begins with an unbelievably gratuitous cheerleader warm up. I’m reminded of the girls’ workout scene in Carrie, but this is way better. Evidently, it’s standard practice for the T & A cheerleaders to do calisthenics wearing only t-shirts and bikini bottoms.
Howie rigs the speakers to call for Purity to report to the school swimming pool where he’s rigged a hypnotism record to play. Unfortunately, the plan begins to fall apart when all the cheerleaders except Purity end up at the pool.
Mayhem ensues when Howie drops his glasses in the pool and yanks a couple zombie-fied cheerleaders’ tops off. The plan is a bitter failure, but a high-water mark in the anals of 80s teen comedies.
[Interlude at the Drive-In]
Before we get to see plan #3, the boys take a break to enjoy a drive-in movie. Oddly enough, they are watching Arena, a movie starring Pam Grier from the 1970s… and this movie is supposed to take place in the early 60s? Whatever.
Tim gets in a fight with Brent over his sister. Other than that, this scene serves no purpose…. besides providing an opportunity for an incredibly gratuitous scene involving the writer herself, Linda Shayne, screaming topless from a van window.
Plan #3: Hide in the sand
At the beach, Jerkovsky is covered up with sand, with only an air hole and makeshift periscope exposed (but camouflaged behind a Coke can). The plan is to lay precisely where Purity sunbathes, and catch a glimpse of her topless.
Not surprisingly, this doesn’t work out.
Plan #4: Take a teacher hostage
Basically, this plan boils down to Rick dressing unconvincingly as a female substitute teacher for a sewing class. Just as when he portrayed a doctor, the girls are only too eager to disrobe at the most improbable requests. He inspects each girl, measuring cup sizes, hoping to get a hold of Purity.
Alas, it was not meant be. Apparently, the boys have kidnapped the real teacher, tied her up, and stuffed her in a closet (several felonies at play here); but, she manages to break free and stop him just as he was about to catch a glimpse of Purity's goods.
Plan #5: Spanish Fly
Not much to say really. The boys spike the punch bowl with an aphrodisiac. Predictably, everyone at the dance goes buck wild; however, Purity refrains from punch and remains unaffected.
Plan #6: Strip bowling
Easily the most memorable scene in the film – this is the one everyone was talking about back in ’83. The five guys challenge the cheerleaders to a game of strip bowling, where an item of clothing is removed when a player does not throw a strike (essentially every throw).
It’s quite obvious that this is going to lead to a lot of nudity, but before the audience is treated to any, Howie gets his dick stuck in a bowling ball. Yes, you read that right the first time– Howie gets his pecker jammed in the finger holes of a bowling ball. Plan aborted. Ouch.
[Interlude: The Strip Club]
This scene struck me as completely out of place when I first saw it. Why? Because it has absolutely no conceivable purpose whatsoever - the story is not furthered one iota. The five boys go to a strip club evidently just because they wanted to.... nothing to do with Purity Busch. Not to say it's out of character, just rather curious that this entire film revolves around Purity Busch.... except this scene!
And then I watched the DVD commentary, and it all made sense. It seems Wynorski was dating a well endowed stripper named Raven, and wanted to give her a shot on the big screen. Can't blame him, I guess. Only, I can't figure how a dude like Wynorski landed a hottie like this. Go figure.
Plan #7: Magnetism
The boys are done playing around. Now it's time to get serious. See Purity naked or die trying.
Purity is Miss Liberty, and will sing the national anthem in front of the assembly. The plan is to magnetize the two basketball poles at either end of the gymnasium. Purity's dress has been painstakingly embedded with metal, and designed to pull off toward the basketball poles when the magnets are engaged.
Other than the side effect of attracting every metallic object in the entire gym, the plan comes together perfectly. Persistence has paid off - the boys finally see her topless. A singular focus and steadfast determination wins in the end - a good lesson to all you boys and girls.
This climactic scene has been ranked among the greatest nude scenes of all 80s teen comedies by Mr. Skin... an authority if there ever was one.
And so it ends. With the unveiling of Miss Liberty, so ended the 80s teen comedy. John Hughes (may he rest in peace) put the kibosh on this naughty tomfoolery. Between the gritty and raw 1970s teen movies (the sort that were liable to lead to lifelong emotional scars) and the sterilized late 1980s, there existed a magical few years of teen comedies. Screwballs is the perfect example of that time. God bless and good night.