A less sentimental approach to Valentines Day: first up in The New Zealand Film Archive’s 2013 “Treasures from the Vaults” series is the 1961 film, "One Plus One (Exploring the Kinsey Reports)." The film is a fictionalised take on the research of sexologist Dr Alfred Kinsey.
Kinsey had shocked and titillated North America with his studies, "Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male" (1948) and "Sexual Behaviour in the Human Female" (1953), which revealed the bedroom habits of 12,000 Americans.
Riding on the crest of the sexual revolution, "One Plus One" attempts to understand some of Kinsey’s findings by presenting a series of vignettes on the significance of sex in the lives of a diverse group of characters. The film consists of five separate but interwoven episodes, each dealing with different aspects of Kinsey’s research: “Honeymoon” (pre-marital relations), “Homecoming” (extra-marital relations), “The Divorcee” (promiscuity among the divorced), “Average Man” (sexual problems of the “average” man), and “Baby” (a story of abortion).
The cast is headed by the droll Leo G. Carroll, who you might recognise from "Tarantula" (1955) or as one of Hitchcock’s favourite character actors. Carroll’s professor character gives a lecture that links the various different dramatic and comedic episodes together.
The independently produced Canadian film baffled reviewers by presenting a mature perspective on its racy subject matter. A "Los Angeles Times" reviewer remarked that "One Plus One" is “too reasonable for sexploitation on the one hand and too reasonable for the art house on the other” (24 August 1961). Similarly, "Variety" noted the film’s lack of appeal for “the sensation-seeked,” expressing concern that “by proclaiming itself to be an exploration of the Kinsey reports, as its title so invitingly puts it, the film is likely to attract too many of the wrong people for the wrong reasons” (23 August 1961).
The film was promoted as "A motion picture for you - who have loved... are loved... or want love..."
This rarely screened gem is not to be missed.
"One Plus One" will screen at the Film Archive at 7pm, February 13 -16.