The Love Garden (1971)

Mike is a young, hip freelance writer living the bachelor’s life in the big city.   Things are going good for him until he lays eyes on his gorgeous new neighbor Claire.  Instantly smitten, Mike begins to put the make on Claire but she rebuffs him at every turn.  Finally getting a foot in the door by helping lug in the groceries Mike gets to talk to her for a spell.  Mike is ready to pack it in and move on because he figures Claire is in a relationship.  That is until he goes back to retrieve his forgotten book and finds out that Claire is in a relationship…with Inez (Barbara Mills). 
This forces Mike to continue his plan to seduce Claire and he is even more determined now that he knows she is a lesbian.  He will earn her trust and then win her love because they share something and even though it may be small “it must be nurtured” to grow. Oh, a love garden…I get it. After winning her trust he finds himself, predictably, embroiled in a love triangle competing with Inez for Claire’s affection.  Even though he turns into a bit of a scuzz at the end Mike is overall a decent character despite his questionable goals thus making the ending oddly bittersweet. 
One of the best aspects of this film is the slice of 1970s urban

apartment life. This isn’t the ghetto it’s a middle class, trendy place to live.  From Mike’s groovy bachelor pad to Inez’s well appointed Sapphic lair even to the complex laundry room.  I can settle in and watch most anything with so much 70s minutiae.  I even found myself trying to catch titles and covers of the trade paperbacks lining Mike’s bookshelves.  I have wainscoting and rough timber in my den so what can I say?  I’m a junkie.  The interaction between the three principals is entertaining enough as well.  For a fan of grindhouse era drama with their soft core erotica, Inez’s simmering and jealous anger, Mike’s scheming and Claire’s smoldering glances are more than enough to keep the viewer interested in their story. 

THE LOVE GARDEN is released as part of Vinegar Syndrome’s Drive-In Collection line of double features on the same disc as THE SUCKERS.  It is presented in 1.37:1 and has a 70-minute running time.  The print condition is much better than the disc’s co-feature.  Though some scratches and lines are present the print is not as heavily damaged as its counterpart.  The co-feature THE SUCKERS is presented in widescreen 1.85:1 and runs for 80 minutes.  The color is excellent for both features and both are 2k scans of vintage 35mm theatrical prints. You can find my review of THE SUCKERS here.
There is little doubt you will buy the disc for THE SUCKERS but make sure you stay for THE LOVE GARDEN too.  You might find yourself as pleasantly surprised as I did.  Check out the trailer below.

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