I was prepared to be underwhelmed by this film – it has “period sex-comedy” written all over it but, whilst it’s no masterpiece it is a very professional job with a script co-written with Dennis Norden as well as Took, Jim Clark directing and Ned Sherrin producing. There’s a super cast including guest appearances from Alan Bennett, Frances de la Tour and Penelope Keith as a leather-trousered, German uber-nanny!
It’s energetic and packed with a lot of action/jokes which still raise a smile and, no doubt, my seven-year old self would have been in stiches had I been allowed to watch it. What’s most striking is Marty’s natural ease as a performer and there’s a genuine rapport with the ace Judy Cornwell, playing his wife, even if he’s not the greatest actor.
|Penny for 'em Marty?|
This is probably the greatest film made about porridge advertising with Feldman playing Teddy Brown, an ad executive tasked with providing a winning campaign for McLaughlin’s Oats, a dour Scottish breakfast serial from an even dourer be-kilted client (Jack Watson). McLaughlin is not impressed with the proposals from Teddy’s agency led by his manager Nat Kaplan (American Shelley Berman) and big boss Chandler (Moray Watson) and in desperation everyone looks to Teddy to inject the sex into cereal.
Teddy’s idea features young couples getting close in the kitchen over heated oats but, McLaughlin still unimpressed, they decide to launch a national competition to cast the perfect sexy lass as the “face” of the campaign.
Teddy inadvertently got his idea for the ad from his wife who mentioned Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Liz Brown (Judy) is long-suffering and the couple have a nanny to help manage their precocious son who, rather unsettlingly has an interest in these women far beyond his years.
|Disgusting! Marty and Julie in nature|
Liz is also a member of a Mary Whitehouse-esque Christian group which aims to protect the nation’s morality from, amongst other things, the kind of advertising her husband is now getting involved with. They’re all clearly hypocrites none more so than Vicar Geoffrey Mellish (Dinsdale Landen charging bravely way over the top) who nurses a most un-religious longing for Liz.
Feldman spoke out for the defendants in the Oz trial and was clearly on the side of free speech… and expression, there’s a fair bit of nudity in this film but he’s an equal opportunities flasher, showing his own arse as well as Julie Ege’s...
Julie’s parts come into play when, as daft as it sounds, Liz hires a new au pair through the seemingly upstanding bureau run by Mrs. Monty Levin (Patience Collier) only to find the leggy bombshell Inga Giltenburg (Julie E) quickly distracting her husband and her son. There’s soon all manner of sexy disagreements all intended no doubt to highlight hypocrisy but also to titillate which is the point at which they fall down: given a bit of freedom, it seems to be we can’t help ourselves becoming either a little prudish or a little pervy.
|Perhaps the greatest film about porridge advertising?|
Then again, what’s not to like about Patrick Cargill playing the flawed establishment perv Wallace Trufitt or Penelope Keith as Lotte von Gelbstein who, hired as a replacement for the far too sexy Inga, has designs more on the Mrs than the Mr. Oo, and very much, Er!
Dusty verdict: The pace is relentless and the heart is warm, there are some laughs and some winces but it’s an enjoyable and highly skilled bit of nonsense: the late sixties sense of humour frozen in nitrate and evidence of Marty’s enduring ability and charm.