The Pom Pom Girls, 1976
I am on record as despising the 1970s in general. There are any number of things from the 70s I like, but the period, the atmosphere of it, is not something I can imagine ever wanting to return to.
Well, there is now a small, partial exception.
The Pom Pom Girls is, in its own way, a wonderful movie. Oh, it has cardboard characters, no plot to speak of, budget limitations that are sometimes painfully obvious, and any number of other strikes against it. But it’s charming, and that makes up for just about everything else.
Watching this movie marks the first time I can actually see how people can be nostalgic for the ’70s. It is, in short, everything that The Swinging Cheerleaders is not. Easy going; not insisting on cramming a message down your throat; enjoying itself and inviting you to join in, no need to feel bad about it.
This is, let me be clear, a drive-in movie. Pure exploitation. But it’s never mean, and pretty much always fun. The guys have, of course, horrendous hair, everybody has just awful style in clothing ((But then, the movie was shot in 1975. At that time, there were no decent clothes to be had in the stores. So it is hard to blame them. )), but it pretty quickly stops mattering. The girls are none of them knockouts, they could easily be the girls you went to school with. But they’re attractive, not just in looks, but in the fact that they’re all having fun here.
This means that another precedent has been broken. I’ve never agreed with people who say that 1970s porn is “better” because the people in it are “real”, as in not shaved or augmented. I’ve seen a few 70’s pornos, and they’re usually quite off-putting, because everybody’s hairy, pale, and, well, just not very well-maintained, if you will.
But these girls look real, and I mean that in the best way possible. They’re not plastic and empty.
Now, having said all that, and brought up porn, I should emphasize that while this is exploitation, there’s not much flesh on display. I don’t know if that’s the way the movie was, or if this version was censored, but the most you see is a bunch of guy-butts in a shower scene. Well, and the fact that the women in the film steadfastly refuse to wear bras.
If you run into a jerk ((Like me. )) who insists that there’s nothing redeemable from the ’70s, who points to Taxi Driver and Autofocus as examples of everything that was wrong with the time, you maybe, just maybe can get him to lighten up (a little) by popping this movie in and letting it charm him.
At the time I’m writing this, the “School Dazed” collection is available from Amazon for a penny under five dollars, meaning that you get eight movies (including this one) for less than a paperback book, making it a no-brainer of a decision. Six of the films are from the 1980s, and every one I’ve seen so far of those six is perfect USA Up All Night material — without the censorship. I’ll cover at least one of those movies later this week, but for now, it’s the perfect set if you have any nostalgia for the ’80s, or for the aforementioned movie program. The Pom Pom Girls is one of the odd ducks here, along with The Van, being very much a product of the 1970s.
The Pom Pom Girls is also available on a single disc with The Van, or in a box set of such double features.