Steve, an angry kid from Scarsdale, avoids both the draft and the Vietnam War by fleeing to Canada, joining a horny hippie commune—run by Sunny, (top-billed LINDA SOUTHERN) — and spending his days surrounded by sex, drugs, naked hippies, sex, orgies, and sex.
Meanwhile, back in New York, Steve’s friend Phil, "a high-principled weirdo," deals with the draft a bit differently. Trying to make sense of the Vietnam War ("A real nice gift from the French!’), Phil meets with a disabled soldier friend who flat out warns him to keep out of the Army (Don’t let ’em get ya! If I were you I’d do anything to stay out!"), rejects a job his father arranges that would give him a five-year deferment, attends an underground anti-draft party, and finally joins an anti-war waitress and a radical priest in destroying the files at a local draft office.
It’s as if these two separate guys exist in two separate worlds — or, more to the point, two separate movies. And guess what? They do!
Once upon a time, New fork-based WILLIAM MISHKIN churned out a steady stream of sleaze for the grindhouse circuit — films like Orgy at Lil’s Place, Naked in the Wind, Heat of Madness, and Andy Milligan epics ranging from The Promiscuous Sex to Bloodthirsty Butchers to Fleshpot on 42nd St. When his son LEWIS MISHKIN joined the family biz, his first project was an attempt to rise above the sexploitation gutter with a then-timely drama about draft dodging, protesting the Vietnam War, and the above-mentioned Phil. Written, produced, and directed by SIMON NUCHTERN (The Girl Grabbers), it was called Cowards and promptly bombed at the box office in 1970.
In true exploitation-film tradition, Cowards quickly underwent emergency surgery: some of the original footage was dropped (as was Nuchtern’s name from the credits), new scenes were added featuring the character of Steve and all those naked hippies, and viola — Cowards suddenly became Love-In 1972! In fact, the original theatrical poster for Cowards can be seen brazenly hanging on the door of the Canadian hippie house about four minutes into the film!
As a result, Love-In 1972 is hilariously schizophrenic as it swings back and forth between agonizing over the politics of war and... well...hippie sex.
Eagle-eyed viewers will enjoy spotting two now-mainstream actors in small, incendiary roles: PHILIP BAKER HALL (Magnolia) plays the priest who preaches the gospel of civil disobedience, while monologuist SPALDING GREY (Monster mi a Box) is alternately funny and scary as a psycho terrorist babbling at a party — "We need us a real revolution! The streets of every city is like the jungles of Vietnam! Attack and retreat, regroup, attack and retreat again! In no time there’d be no government in Washington! The police force and the army would be powerless!"
Obviously, the lesson in all this is simple: Hippie chicks rule!
From a 35mm power-to-the-people print -- Frank Henenlotter
Starring: Linda Southern
Co-starring: John Ross
Other cast: Susan Sparling, Will Patent, Phillip Baker Hall
Directed by: Sidney Knight and Karl Hansen