When a sophisticated woman named Marcia, befriends a younger, emotionally wounded woman, their relationship blossoms into a love affair. The plot premise revolves around the problems in their lesbian relationship, when the younger woman, named Terry, decides to marry a man. Once Terry is married, she has trouble adjusting to sexual intimacy with her husband.
Meanwhile, Marcia (played with a sullen earnestness by Bee Tompkins) shows up at the home of Terry and her new husband. Seems that Marcia has lost her job, and needs a place to stay, until she can recover financially. While there, Marcia tries in vain to win back Terry's love. As Marcia becomes more desperate in her attempts at reconciliation with Terry, Marcia suffers a psychological collapse, with tragic consequences.
Homophobia was rampant in society, when this film was made in 1969. And so this film has strong negative assumptions, regarding lesbianism. The attitude typically held by mainstream society, was that all a lesbian needed was a good man, to cure her of her 'abnormal' sexual desires. That Tender Touch reeks with that kind of moralistic, homophobic tone.
Thankfully, things have improved markedly for the lesbian community, since 1969. This movie could be recommended as a historical reference, so that today's lesbians can see how far we've come, in terms of social acceptance. Otherwise, this film is overly melodramatic, and a bit depressing.