The Adventures Of a Plumber In Outer Space
A SHORT GUIDE TO BRITISH SMUTThe 1970ís boom in saucy British comedies is a much underrated part of our cinematic and cultural heritage. Of course everyone knows about Carry On films, but there were hundreds of low budget grubby gems made in this period. I have always had a soft spot for these films that gave work to legions of fine out of work British character actors and, of course, displayed the flesh of many a fine figured young actress. And displayed the backside of a production line of young leading men.It is my love of these films that led me to pay tribute to them, first in CAN YOU KEEP IT UP WITH THIS THAT AND THE OTHER FOR A WEEK?, and now, with the Plunger of Sauciness passed on to me from Stanley Long, THE ADVENTURES OF A PLUMBER IN OUTER SPACE. Just silly, saucy comedies that do a as they say on the tin to keep the audience entertained. It has to be said, though, that these films often promised a lot more than they actually contained, and were often treated as near pornographic films by the cinemas, when really they were just harmless comedies.So here then is a short, personal guide to some of the leading lights and films of British smut.I suppose I must mention the CONFESSIONS series of films as a starting point. Much derided, but actually very well made and with splendid casts, they seemed to set a template by which all others followed in its wake. ROBIN ASKWITH is the archetypal cheeky chappie and begins the series with perhaps the archetypal job in this genre, a window cleaner. TONY BOOTH as his sleazy brother in law gives a great performance as well, and all of the films feature a fine supporting cast of leading television comedy actors (Bill Maynard, Windsor Davies to name but two). There are four films in the series and my order of preference is thus:
Stanley Long shows the correct way to stick a plunger to a young ladies behind
CONFESSIONS OF A ...WINDOW CLEANERHOLIDAY CAMP ( If you can get past the dated racial references, this really will remind you of how grubby and lifeless holiday camps used to be)DRIVING INSTRUCTORPOP PERFORMER (often cited as the best in series but personally I find the pop music pastiches a bit tiresome. Has the best line though ď Has anyone seen my Fanny?Ē ď I saw the bride of Frankenstein once and that was bad enough!Ē You will of course have to watch it in context to appreciate the joke fully.
And so to the ADVENTURES series by the great STANLEY LONG. Stanley Long is I suppose the father of British sauce, having the longest sustained career in it throughout the seventies. It is perhaps the ADVENTURES films that he is best known for, but other films of his worth looking out for include SEX AND THE OTHER WOMAN, ESKIMO NELL (a very funny spoof on the whole seventies smut film industry) and NAUGHTY (a Ďreportí on pornography and erotica).The ADVENTURES series are similar to the CONFESSIONS in that they take a profession and have a cheeky chappie getting through as many girls as he can while on the job, if youíll pardon the expression. The ADVENTURES though are slightly more gritty and tend to show the sleazier side of life, and the lower budget means they donít look a s glossy as the CONFESSIONS. Also, I would say, the sex scenes have a more realistic air to them, as they are not played for out and out comedy like in the CONFESSIONS.ADVENTURES OF A TAXI DRIVER stars the late BARRY EVANS. Evans was a decent comic actor, who starred in the excellent psychedelic teen romp HERE WE GO ROUND THE MULBERRY BUSH, and became a household name in DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE. He makes a decent job of his performance here and gamely does numerous nude scenes. For reasons known only to himself he didnít want to do the sequels and ended up in pretty dreadful fare like UNDER THE DOCTOR, an extremely unfunny film (it does have an excellent poster though which adorns my office wall). He then did another popular TV show MIND YOUR LANGUAGE, which sadly fell foul of the PC brigade and did his career no favours, He faded from the public eye and and the end of the last century was a taxi driver, and was found dead in his flat in very shady circumstances.Anyway, TAXI DRIVER has a very amusing scene where Evans is in the bath with a woman whose husband comes home unexpectedly (donít they always?) and has to hide under the wife and bubbles in the bath. This is a scene which I pay homage too in my new film, even down to filming in a tiny cramped bathroom ( see PLUMBERS BLOG for more details).ADVENTURES OF A PRIVATE EYE is a more polished affair, which is more plot driven, with an excellent script from regular Long collaborator MICHAEL ARMSTRONG.ADVENTURES OF A PLUMBERS MATE is the last of the series (not including a compilation BEST OF ADVENTURES made a few years later) has another excellent performance from CHRISTOPHER NEIL, who replaced Evans. I loved the idea of the plumber calling round the houses of bored housewives, and there are some great gags that can be done with a plunger. My film could, I suppose be viewed as an unofficial sequel to this, especially as the same plunger is used in both films.And now to finish a random choice of three of my favourite items from Britainís Golden Age Of Smut that have influenced meCAN YOU KEEP IT UP FOR A WEEK?Yes, I unashamedly borrowed this title for most of the title for CAN YOU KEEP IT WITH THIS THAT AND THE OTHER FOR A WEEK?. This features JEREMY BULLOCH whose chesty girl promises to marry him if he can keep down a job for a week. Simple? Not when every job he gets he has to tackle big busted nymphos, big busted lesbians and an outrageously gay acting RICHARD OíSULLIVAN. It is a shameless CONFESSIONS rip off, with Bulloch even looking like Askwith, but easily passes the time without overstaying itís welcome.SPACED OUT aka OUTER TOUCHDirected by NORMAN J WARREN is a cheap and cheerful romp set on a spaceship that is inhabited by women who beam aboard some men, who they then proceed to chase like naughty school girls. Ticks all the sci fi comedy boxes, wobbly tin foil sets, absurd costumes, sex mad women and taking computers. You can see how this may have influenced me.THE UPS AND DOWNS OF A HANDYMANThis film, (about a town handyman relocating a country village of, yes you guessed it, bored housewives), has a very high nudity content and also features some very sinister scenes of BOB TODD spanking young girls on his knee. I can also recommend it for, in my opinion, the worst ever theme tune (same as the film title) sung by the star BARRY STOKES. This film is very difficult to get hold of, never released on DVD, copies on ebay go for a surprisingly high amount.I hope this brief trip to the world of the Saucy Seventies will encourage you to seek out some more of these frequently entertaining films. Here are some good links for more information:
SIMON SHERIDAN is the author of the definitive book on the subject KEEPING THE BRITISH END UP, and will shortly be publishing a biography of...
STANLEY LONG, the master of the low budget movie, and still going strong, soon to release the ADVENTURES films on DVD.
GAV CRIMSON is a wealth of knowledge on all things smutty
...and ROBIN ASKWITH on MySpace.
This has happened to us all on the first day at the office.
From SEX AND THE OTHER WOMAN.