Bite Size: It’s…Francy’s Friday (1972)

Despite the rather ebullient title, It’s…Francy’s Friday opens at a cemetery, a completely irrelevant text card informing us its “10 am on a particular Friday” as if we’re about to see the heroine get turned away from the gravesite for violating the visiting hours, or the producers desperately needed something to justify the pleasantly alliterative title. The titular Francy (Alisha Fontaine, French Quarter, Teenage Tramp) packs her super dramatic mourning cloak into the saddlebag on her cute little Honda motorbike, and heads home, a folky pop tune warbling along on the soundtrack.

Because the best place to have an extended flashback is the shower, Francy gives us some voiceover dropped in in post about her worries regarding some dinner guests, her general distaste for Fridays, and the reason she was visiting the cemetery. As expected for an adult film, basically all roads lead back to Francy’s sex life. Where Friday gets decidedly odd is the precise mechanism by which that happens.

Apparently, Fridays were her parents’ day for swinging parties after their little girl had gone to sleep. Francy’s mom, Rose, is particularly insatiable. She invites her favorite boy toy over so often that Francy knows him as “Uncle Jordan”. While Francy’s dad seems to be more considerate of and concerned for her, he’s also not all that good at standing up to his strong willed wife.

It’s clearly a miserable home for a kid, and bad becomes worse when Francy’s mom takes a neck breaking fall in the midst of an orgy with her husband’s poker buddies. Rose becomes insufferably bitter because of her wheelchair bound status, causing her husband to drink himself to death. As for the now teenaged Francy, she’s clearly trying to escape the entire sad situation via sexual exploration. A group grope in a parked car gets her sentenced to probation, and the four men caught along with her sent to jail. The incident also gets the family’s name splashed all over the local paper.

What was already dour turns itself into the suburban New Jersey branch of the Andy Milligan school of familial dysfunction and psychosexual issues. Francy fully admits via voiceover she doesn’t much enjoy her trysts. At night, she’s tormented by legitimately terrifying dreams of being assaulted by groups of men wearing Alice, Sweet Alice style clear Halloween masks. When Francy wakes up, life isn’t much better. Her mother never misses an opportunity to berate her, for perceived promiscuity or otherwise.

When Jordan drops in to check on his former swinging partner for old times sake, Francy seduces him out of spite for her mother’s endless haranguing. When Rose discovers this betrayal, she kills Francy’s beloved pet dog (!) and commits suicide by tossing herself out of her wheelchair and down a flight of stairs.

There’s mercifully a time jump to Francy’s 18th birthday, and her inheritance of her parents’ estate, and an abandonment of the darker tone that characterizes the film up to that point. It’s…Francy’s Friday turns into the sort of suburban swinger tale that was a fairly popular subject for adult films at the time. Girl meets boy, ballad from the opener gets played four more times in its entirety to indicate they’ve fallen in love, girl gets bored and asks for an open relationship, resentments ensue.

There’s precious little record of anything having to do with It’s…Francy’s Friday. Director Curt Ledger only made one other film (1969 oddball roughie She Came On The Bus) and it seems quite possible Friday may have been shot shortly afterward and shelved/retooled later on. The budget conscious choice to film in black and white, the roughie adjacent imagery of the film’s first half and the insanely irritating folk pop tune that plays incessantly throughout would all certainly support that as a possibility.

It is also interesting to note that the film’s early going stays firmly in the realm of 60s style content (abundant toplessness and obtusely shot simulated sex) while the hippie bacchanalia of the final third has a few brief moments of full frontal and a scene between two party goers that appears to tiptoe right up to the edge of hardcore.

Not that this distinction matters much, as the sex scenes are uniformly tame, poorly composed, oddly lit, and lacking in much variation. The group scenes are a lot of grasping hands shot from the waist up, and the single couple pairings are the usual awkward frottage of softcore missionary, with 2.5 seconds of cowgirl. For a film so heavy on group sex, hippies, and “libertines” the complete lack of queer or kink content seems almost a purposeful omission.

Alisha Fontaine was always a more low key sort of performer, and it isn’t helpful that her leading role gives her exceptionally little to do aside from beautiful blank or pretty petulance. Seasoned B film babe Tallie Cochrane (The Candy Tangerine Man, Centerfold Girls) and her real life husband Patrick Wright (Track of the Moonbeast) have small roles as party guests toward the end of the film. Several other cast members — most notably the actress who plays Rose — go uncredited.

With a heaping helping of swooning melodrama and an extremely overlong 95 minute runtime, it’s clear Friday had ambitions to something beyond the porno basics, but the movie never quite illuminates what precisely those goals might have been. It is even more curious that this drab tale of dysfunction, sexual trauma, and one dimensional men was specifically marketed as an adult film for the “ladies” or “couples” market.

The movie is too depressing to make a convincing case for as a racy addition to date night, too disjointed to enjoy as a narrative film, and way too mild to satisfy the stag party set. Rather than any freewheeling endorsement for sexual exploration, the story spends its final few minutes positing that happiness is following the lead of a bossy, boring boyfriend rather than heeding the call of one’s own freakier sexual muse.

The only real takeaway from the experience of watching It’s…Francy’s Friday is a reminder that the perennial fashion for conflating obscurity with quality in regard to exploitation cinema is deeply flawed. Every movie that gets made is a miracle, but some miracles save thousands from starving, while others involve squinting to make out the vague visage of a saint burnt into a random slice of toast.

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