As the 70’s paved their way for the 1980’s something new emerged on the horizon, the graphic sex comedy. While movies like Animal House, and Porky’s were the most notably known for this style of humour, their path was laid for them by a most unexpected source a small Israeli movie called Lemon Popsicle. Also known as Eskimo Limon, or Going All The Way the Lemon Popsicle movies were so popular and successful that they made nine, yes nine sequels; and even went as far to being re-made as an American movie though this bombed under pressure to be like the original movies.
I guess I could be stereotypically classifying the people of Israel, but when I think about the country I think about three things, religion, war and the Jewish community. In the Lemon Popsicle movies only one of the three things is ever really present. When I first saw Lemon Popsicle (Dubbed into English, or at the very least American) I honestly believed that the movie was filmed and made in America. It was a few years later before the revelation that these were in fact Israeli movies; clever editing hiding most of the tell tale signs.
Lemon Popsicle circles around three boys Benji (Yftach Katzur), Bobby (Jonathon Sagall) and Hughie (Zachi Noy) who during the 1950’s are finishing up their schooling while making all sorts of discoveries about love. The main focus of the movie is Benji who unlike Bobby and Hughie has more on his mind than just sex, Benji is looking for love. When Benji believes he has discovered the girl of his dreams, a newcomer in town called Nicky (Anat Atzmon) he sets his heart on winning her over. Sadly for Benji however his friendship with Bobby is about to be put to the test as he makes moves on Nicky before Benji has even been able too. But while Benji wants love all Bobby wants is to bethe first person in school to have sex with Nicky. As the inevitable draws closer Benji is torn apart by his now love for Nicky, can he win over her heart.
Even today the Lemon Popsicle movies push certain boundaries that Western movies have failed too, featuring often incredibly embarrassing scenes if you find yourself watching the movie in company. While nudity is fairly minimal, you are kind of made to feel almost as if you are watching pornography. I remember as a child seeing the movies passed around my school like they literally were the most pornographic things ever. While watching the movie all these memories came flooding back, and amazingly I actually found it more lewd and crude now than I did then, maybe back in the days of video they were heavier edited.
There are lots of things that appealed to audiences of the time, penis measuring competitions, cheeky con tricks, lots of making out in underwear, and sexually transmitted diseases. In fairness a lot of the humour now is more embarrassingly funny than actually amusing, especially given the fact that now preserved the movie is obviously Israeli, although courtesy of dubbing it still tries to convince you its American.
Underlining the humour (although this is not the funniest of the movies) is a great little love story that kind of charts the thoughts that lots of us had when we were young. The pain that Benji feels really comes off the screen at you, made sadder by the fact that out of all the characters in the movie he is the only one with thoughts beyond that of sex.
In fairness there is not a lot too this movie, but you can see where Animal House and Porky’s got their ideas from, the references were striking, especially when you compare the Porky’s movies to this movie.
There is a pretty high chance that if your reading this you might not have come across the Lemon Popsicle movies, or know of them. It’s hard to describe the effect that these movies had on the film industry, while not being over popular in Israel in America the movie caused viewers to flock to cinemas, particularly those of the Grindhouse mentality and the drive ins. The movies two financiers Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan created one of the biggest movie blockbuster production companies off the back of the movie. Forming Golan Globus, and taking control Cannon (Superman, Death Wish, Delta Force) they were the financiers for The Rambo movies, forming a secondary company Carolco whose movies included Chaplin, Basic Instinct, and Terminator 2. It’s sad that the movies could have caused such a lasting impression on the movie industry that we know so well today yet still be forgotten.
After being overlooked for over 20 years Lemon Popsicle is about to make it onto DVD in the UK though without any special features.