Tatum and Kristy are rivals in the camp.
Little Darlings is a classic summer camp/coming of age film that stands out from the rest of this genre by making some twists on the standard plot line of these films. Instead of two groups of campers (losers vs. jocks), we have a rivalry between two girls, Angel (Kristy McNichol) from the inner city streets and Ferris (Tatum O’Neal) a wealthy girl from a life of privilege. Instead of focusing on two rival camp groups of guys competing to win some camp contest, Little Darlings is about the rivalry that quickly develops between the two girls. The rivalry starts on the bus ride to Camp Little Wolf, where they have to share a seat, being the last two girls to arrive. Angel doesn’t want to share her seat and soon the two are fighting over it. With the emphasis in the film on the girls point of view and conversations, the subject soon turns to sexual matters. Their contest, which is manipulated and egged on by some of the other girls in their cabin, is to see who will be able to lose their virginity first. The other girls quickly take bets on who will win, and eventually word about the contest circulates to the other cabins who add additional bets. Neither Ferris nor Angel is excited by the prospect of the contest, but want to fit in so they go along with it.
The girls break into a condom vending machine that they took from the gas station rest room.
Ferris soon takes an interest in an older man, Gary Callahan (Armand Assante), who is a high school French teacher and counselor at the camp. Angel seems less interested at first, but doesn’t hesitate to get involved in pranks, like hot-wiring the camp school bus and going for a joy ride. While stopped at a gas station in town trying to get some condoms, the girls run into Randy (Matt Dillon) who is from the camp across the way. Angel takes an interest in Randy, who does some flirting back. Back at the camp the rivalry between the girls continues with a food fight in the cafeteria, and discussions with the different girls in their cabin who are taking sides with either Angel or Ferris, and trying to help them find their “man”. Ferris fakes drowning in the pool to get Mr. Callahan to save her, and then give her swimming lessons. Angel decides to pursue Randy by rowing over to his camp area and picking him up from the swimming area. The two get to know each other a little bit by exploring the nearby woods and sharing some beers and cigarettes that Angel brought along, hoping to get Randy horny. But instead he passes out. At last the big moment comes for Angel and Randy, but Angel is very reluctant and demanding, which ends up turning Randy off, and he rejects her. Meanwhile, Ferris is upset because her parents are splitting up, but eventually she tries to make a pass at Mr. Callahan with the same result. Later, Angel and Randy do get together, but the result ends up being a lot different than Angel expected. She discovers that she has a whole emotional viewpoint about relationships then the stereotypes that she thought would be there. When Ferris gets back, she pretends that they did have sex, to all of the girls; when Angel gets back she denies it, although she actually did. And both men are outraged when they find out that there was a bet going on between Angel, Ferris and the camp girls. This changes the whole dynamic and direction of film. How all of these issues are resolved make up the rest of the film.
Angel and Randy go off to talk about things.
Little Darlings ends up being a much more interesting film than the typical summer camp coming of age film because it surprisingly ends up showing us some character development and real emotions. It brings up issues of teenaged sexuality in a thoughtful and insightful way that you wouldn’t expect to find in this genre of films. There are good performances by the four principal actors, Tatum O’Neal, Armand Assante, and especially Kristy McNichol and Matt Dillon, and engaging cameo performances by Ferris’ dad (Nicholas Coster) and Angel’s mom (Margaret Blye). The story line even includes thoughtful conversations between the two girls and their parents! Credit should also go to screenwriters Kimi Peck and Dalene Young for taking a mundane and often cliched subject matter and actually doing new and interesting with it. Kudos also to director Ronald Maxwell for keeping the pace moving and giving us more character interactions and less camp antics.
Angel expresses some of her emotions to Randy.
Kristy takes on a local boy.
Throughout Little Darlings, Kristy McNichol wears black high top chucks in her role as the streetwise tomboy Angel. Her chucks along with her usual outfit of blue denim jacket and jeans is part of her inner city tough girl look. The best chucks scene occurs at the beginning of the film, before she goes off to camp. When a neighborhood boy makes some suggestive comments to her, Angel soon sets him right with a swift and painful kick to his crotch.
She disables him with a quick kick to his crotch.
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