Netflix Streaming is the streaming video service ready to shoot several thousand movies onto your TV and/or computer screen. The film selection is a gloriously random array of "Hollywood hits!," beloved classics, and off-brand delights. For the Slog Netflix Streaming Movie Club, we'll all watch the same film on Netflix Streaming, then discuss it here on Slog.
Someone I Touched is the made-for-TV movie that premiered on February 26, 1975. Directed by Lou Antonio (the man who brought us an actor who appeared in 1967's Cool Hand Luke) and starring Cloris Leachman (who three years earlier won an Oscar for her amazing work in The Last Picture Show), Someone I Touched concerns itself the insidious scourge of venereal disease, and how it affects a handful of lives in southern California. As Movieline's Alonso Duralde (an early adopter of Someone I Touched) writes, "The fact that Cloris Leachman, at 49, stars as a pregnant housewife, and that she sings the theme song, is just the icing on the cake of looniness."
As the opening credits roll, we hear Cloris Leachman purring the theme song, the lyrics of which make frequent use of the phrase "someone I touched." (FORESHADOWING!) As the story begins, we follow Frank Berlin, a Joe Namath-y bounty hunter for the health department, who's watching a game of beach volleyball. During a break in the play, he approaches a young woman named Carrie (Glynnis O'Connor, who'd go on to star with John Travolta in the '70s TV movie classic The Boy in the Plastic Bubble), with the bad news that she has syphilis.
Thus is Carrie tasked with alerting all her sexual contacts of the past three months, a quest that brings her back in contact with Sam, a middle-aged businessman who's married to Cloris Leachman's character Laura, a children's book writer who's not above wearing a long-sleeved, floor-length turtleneck gown while fussing about in the kitchen. (Seriously, Leachman looks gorgeous throughout the film—and she's forty-fucking-nine!) Not only is Laura a cheated-upon wife who now might have syphilis, she's freshly pregnant—a collision of facts that could, as Laura puts it, result "in a baby with NO ARRRRRMS!" (The scene where Sam tells Laura of his syphilitic indiscretion—inspiring Laura to recoil in a slow-motion Butoh ballet—is tremendous.)
Then shit gets real....
Glynnis O'Connor's Carrie tells her mother (played by her actual mother!) about her diagnosis, and her mother screams and slaps her 750 times. Cloris Leachmen's Laura gets a visit from the health department's Frank Berlin, who informs her that while her husband is in the first stages of syphilis, she is in the second, meaning that she acquired the disease first. Laura then pays a visit to her publisher/one-time extramarital lover, whom she bitterly thanks for giving her a disease that could result in a baby with NO ARRRRRRRRRRRRMS. (Truly, this scene is the most powerful in the film, with the publisher's claims that "he thought she knew" perfectly illuminating the banality of evil in regard to STD transmission.) "I just feel so tacky now," says Laura, while wearing a brownish-yellow pantsuit. (What color is that? Dusty mustard? Jaundiced tan?)
Then Laura comes clean to Sam about being the source of syphilis in their lives, the doctor says both Laura and the baby will be fine, Sam visits Carrie at her supermarket job and tells her he's the one who gave her syphilis (not the other way around), and Sam and Laura share a tender moment in their car in the supermarket parking lot, as an instrumental version of the theme song swells.
Possible points of discussion: *That humongous wood-paneled refrigerator in Laura and Sam's kitchen *The supermarket sale offering ten pounds of navel oranges for a dollar *The creepiness of Sam approaching Laura's gynecologist in hopes of treating her for syphilis without her knowing *The creepiness of that puppet sculpture hanging by Laura's work table