Ah the Great British “sex comedy” a symbol of a time before when we were proud of our inhibitions and always keen to celebrate our kinks in the darkened communities of “private” Soho cinemas. There was a cinema club in Liverpool that used to advertise in the Echo; tantalising titles involving naughty night nurses and worldly window cleaners, Mary Millington, the alliterative British “niece” to America’s greatest sexual super power and a host of tightly-corseted, knowing beauties all smiling and “in on The Act…”
In reality, many of these films were little more than Carry ons with added nudity; relentlessly silly in order to off-set the slightest possibility of offense being taken but with enough pulchritude to ensure that the key demographic was satisfied and, on occasion, a plot worth following.
Well, on the first count, here we do have your actual Joanna Lumley (aged 24) revealing a not inconsiderable amount in pursuit of her no doubt considerate fee… As with another film covered on this blog, The Breaking of Bumbo, her agents seem to be on a drive to remove her youthful nudity yet the copy I made years ago on VHS seems to be the full Monty as it were which is apparently not the case with the current DVD release.
|The full Lumley...|
|Jeremy Lloyd and Joanna Lumley share a joke|
If nothing else, it gives the excellent Richard Wattis a chance to play against type… now that’s got your interest surely?
|Lady Evelyn out talent spotting|
The two ladies spend their time “talent spotting” young beauties from the idle rich, although it’s never explained what’s in it for the rich young things: surely not money which leaves open the possibility that the career in question is a vocational one (yeah… I know.).
|The two madams clash|
I’m less than clear why Lady Chatterley gets chosen as a prostitute – Fanny Hill’s profession is not misplaced though she was a victim of circumstance and not choice even in the Eighteenth Century.
|The impressive Miss Brahms|
|Fanny charms the "girls"|
The stakes are raised as the girls are tasked with seducing the seemingly un-seducable Lothran (Richard Wattis) an antiques collector who seems more enamoured with people than objects. The girls move into his apartment block and begin to charm him.
|Fanny shows Lothran around...|
|...and Contsnace gives him a lift.|
|The Lady ain't a tramp|
Joanna Lumley is lovely as per usual and shows the comic instinct that eventually came to career fruition in Absolutely Fabulous. Penny Brahms is also good although she wasn’t to enjoy the same career longevity as her co-tart.
Ultimately the only way to evaluate films of this genre is to compare them with each other and you have to say that this film is perhaps less exploitative than the majority with its emphasis on the female leads and choice of the most unlikely male characters.
The DVD is now available from Amazon or Movie Mail but those who just want to see more of Joanna will have to look a bit harder or back to video!