This movie, which was adapted from Israeli film Eskimo Limon, was one of the first of a wave of American teen pics that poured into cinemas in the 1980s. It isn’t a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination and could do with a tighter structure, but this new Blu-ray release of the movie by one of Britain’s most wonderful distributors, Arrow Films, provides fans of this type of movie a welcome slice of nostalgia. Those (such as myself) who were born a good decade after this film was released can now take a glimpse (in high definition) at what life was like as a male teenage virgin in American high school at the start of the 80s.
First, it should go without saying, but this film feels very dated. It’s allowed to, considering it was made over thirty years ago, but there are things modern audiences will understandably have issues with when viewing this film for the first time. The representation of women, and the way they are treated by the sympathetic male leads in the film, is not exactly progressive. They are objectified, made out to be sex-hungry prostitutes (sometimes literally) willing to be penetrated by whatever condom-free teenage penis that comes wandering their way, or are manipulated into sleeping with people they don’t care about. There are also some rather dubious scenes that flirt with rape-jokes (though, thankfully, never quite go there).
The story revolves around our three leading lads losing their virginity, played by Steve Antin (the good-looking womanizer), Joe Rubbo (overweight though very eager) and Lawrence Monoson (as a the shy, more virginal one). Monoson’s character becomes something of the central figure as both his friends become experienced in sex but he remains untouched.
The film has become well-known for its famously down-beat ending. If you like your movies conventional, with the guy getting the girl or everyone being friends and forgiving each other for betrayals of the past, this film will make you feel very insecure. You may even cry.
The whole thing is held together by the strength of the three main actors. All of them act well together and make their characters memorable. The standout turn is probably from Steve Antin as the gorgeous, girl-loving hunk (he’s now gone on to become a producer, television executive, stunt man and film director – he even directed 2010’s Christina Aguilera flick Burlesque). Antin also proves wrong those who believe gay male actors cannot be believable in steamy scenes with the opposite sex. His sex scenes in this film are the most convincing and work well with his character’s prowess as an experienced lover.
There are a handful of crude scenes that could test even the more forgiving viewer’s patience. An extended sequence involving a large class of teenage boys lining up in the locker room to have their erect penises measured by two of our lead characters doesn’t deserve the screen time it’s given. Nor does a sequence involving the three guys buying the services of a prostitute and having sex with her outside on a broken sofa.
In the end, The Last American Virgin, with its almost quaintly-backward view of sexuality and gender roles and its naive attempts at using sex as a method of humour, feels like a rather sweet film. For all its hard cocks, bare breasts and gratuitous thrusting, it actually somewhat innocent – a feeling helped along by its teary-eyed closing moments. It’s not perfect, but this movie has a heart and provides an enjoyable 90 minutes of escapism.
A note on the release: This is an Arrow title, and that itself should tell you all you need to know. The picture looks the best it’s ever looked, with a magnificent full high definition transfer. It’s great to see a film that would have most often been consumed on fuzzy VHS looking almost as good as it would have done in the cinemas.
Film: ★★★☆☆ Blu-ray: ★★★★★
The Last American Virgin (1982), directed by Boaz Davidson, is released on Blu-ray disc by Arrow Films on 16 September, Certificate 15. See the complete packaging shots below: