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The naked jape
In the latest of late reviews, Gort steps up to the plate to tackle STANLEY LONG'S ADVENTURES, a three-film box set of 1970s British sex comedies whose gender politics have aged like uncorked wine but which remain interesting barometers of the sexual politics of their day, and the box set itself is one of the year's best.

Mention the term "British 70s sex comedy" to people of my age and the first face that pops into your brain is that of Robin Askwith. Askwith is an actor with almost 70 film and TV credits to his name but who will probably forever be remembered primarily for four films, each of which began with the word "Confessions" and whose lead character worked as a window cleaner, a pop performer, a driving instructor, and a holiday camp employee. In each of these professions, he had a single narrative goal, to sleep with almost every woman he encountered. Luckily for him, almost all of these women also wanted desperately to get into his trousers.

Based on a series of novels by Christopher Wood, who wrote a staggering 21 of them in the first person under the pseudonym of their lead character, Timothy Lea, they were effectively a collection of humorous male wank fantasies that sold a bundle in the climate of censorial repression that existed in 1970s Britain. I certainly read a few of them. In my teenage years, they were a rare example of legitimised and humorous literary porn that I could buy without being challenged at the newsagent about my age. Getting in to see the movie adaptations was a different story, as this meant pretending to be older than I was to people who weren't going to swallow my pathetic attempts to make myself look taller and my voice sound deeper. They thus passed me by until I was old enough to wince at material I would doubtless once have been heartily tickled by.

Cheesy sexist piffle though these movies may now seem, the first had a degree of respectability by association. The screenplay was co-written by Wood under his real name in collaboration with its director, Val Guest, a man whose varied career includes a smattering of widely acclaimed movies such as Yesterday's Enemy (1959), Hell is a City (1960), and the science fiction classics The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) and The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961). The supporting cast was also peppered with famous faces from TV of the day, including Bill Maynard, Dandy Nichols, John Le Mesurier, Richard Wattis and Sam Kydd. Must be legit, then. Wood also wrote the next three films in the series, where Norman Cohen moved into the director's chair. The films made a ton of money and Confessions of a Plumber's Mate and Confessions of a Private Soldier were both planned but ultimately never made. Keep that first title in mind. I'll be coming back to it.

Bob blows his cover in Adventures of a Private Eye

The trilogy of films in this Indicator Blu-ray box set – whose full title is Stanley Long's Adventures: A Seventies Sex Comedy Threesome – were clearly made to cash in on the box-office success of Confessions of Window Cleaner. Quite aside from the similarity of the title – swap 'Confessions of' for 'Adventures of' and add the roving profession of your choice – the similarities between the two films are difficult to ignore. In both, the lead character is a perennially randy but bumbling working-class lad in his twenties that women of all descriptions somehow find irresistible. Both Timmy of Confessions and his first Adventures equivalent Joe are still living with their parents at the start of their respective stories and both have family members involved in pretty criminal activities (the father in Confessions, the brother in Adventures). Both men are obsessed with women and sex, both are a magnet for attractive and sexually promiscuous girls, and both share their thoughts with the audience, Timmy through narration and Joe directly in a fourth wall-breaking device borrowed from Alfie. Both films adopt a light, comical tone and pepper the supporting cast with familiar faces, as well as sporting similarly cheesy upbeat musical scores and an opening song that even in their day would have made me shudder. If you need one more thing to cement the connection, the third of the Adventures films is Adventures of a Plumber's Mate. Remember what that planned but ultimately abandoned fifth Confession film was due to be called?

All three of the Adventures films were directed and co-produced by Stanley Arthur Long, who also had a hand in the writing of the first two. It's around Mr. Long that this box set has been built, and with good reason. Long had a hugely successful career as a cinematographer and director making nudie shorts and training films before moving into theatrical features. He even formed his own distribution company to ensure that the Adventures films were handled correctly and was also a producer of some note. As far as I'm aware, Long never made a film that lost money, and was a self-taught director, lighting cameraman and producer, quite an achievement by any standard. And he distributed David Cronenberg's Rabid and The Brood, goddammit, two of the finest horror films of the 1970s.

Now I'm as aware of the importance of contextualising films to their time and place of origin as the next film devotee, but the times really have changed for these films. They were made back when women were still being openly objectified and portrayed in media as legitimate and willing sexual prey for horny young white male protagonists. Despite the efforts of the Women's Liberation movement, gender inequality was still rife, and scandalous cases of rape victims being blamed for the attacks because of how they dressed were all too common. We have, I would hope, moved on a little. Not enough, I'll admit, but definitely a little. And objective though we always try to be at Outsider, movie appreciation is ultimately a subjective experience. If you don't laugh at a comedy, then for you it isn't funny, and if you can't form a bond with a film's lead character, then your engagement with it is going to be inevitably affected. And yes, if you find the sexual objectification of women more irritating than titillating then… well, you get my drift. Try as I might, I struggle to view these films as I might have done as a randy but sexually inexperienced teenager. Much of their content has dated, a little quaintly perhaps. They're certainly very British, in that way aspect of our culture that gave us the innuendo-laden Carry On movies but also a daily dose of topless women in newspapers and tiresomely blokey magazines. But there's a little more to these films than surface impressions might suggest, and a lot more to this Indicator box set. I'll get to that in a minute. But first, the movies.


Ah, London in the 1970s. I recall it primarily for its excellent independent cinemas, but also for its dirt, its rudeness, and its sleaze. Most cities have their defining landmarks, but a few also had iconic modes of transport. London had three, its red double-decker busses, its noisy and overcrowded but convenient tube trains, and it's black taxi cabs. That last mode of transport, one I tended to avoid in my youth and still dislike now, features heavily in the opening sequence of Adventures of a Taxi Driver. It's a sequence that I found more amusing than I was expecting. Over a montage of black cabs, their drivers and their fares, a droll documentary-like voice sings the praises of these kings of the road by highlighting all of the things that they were famous for not actually doing. In one brief sequence, an elderly women struggles with an impossible collection of parcels, while the cabbie remains impassively rooted to his seat and refuses to lend a hand. It's so nicely handled that I laughed out loud. Hey, maybe this won't be the glumly archaic experience that I had feared.

Joe shares a few thoughts on women with the audience

Following the example set by the film's key Confessions inspiration, we're then introduced to the lead character of taxi driver Joe (Barry Evans) and his immediate family. These include his kitchen-trapped mother (Diana Dors), his thieving wideboy of a brother Peter (Marc Harrison), and a small child whose cheerful efforts to wreck everything she lays her hands on go largely unchecked. It's no wonder that Joe desperately wants own place. So far, so inoffensive. That is until Joe jumps back into his cab, talks about pulling "a nice bit of crumpet," and starts eyeing up every girl he passes with the sort of lascivious sleaze of someone whose brain has formed a direct connection to his overactive testicles and is catching sight of women for the very first time. Adopting his viewpoint, the camera also seems controlled by adolescent lust, homing in on the buttocks of every girl that Joe passes in what plays as a cinematic equivalent of "Look at the arse on that!"

Joe's next fare is Linda (Jane Hayden), a pretty young girl who asks to be taken to Lambeth bridge and whose dour demeanour loudly announces that she's depressed and is going there to jump into the Thames. None of this registers with the oblivious Joe, who spend the entire journey throwing jolly questions at her and confiding in us that this is one his favourite methods of chatting women up. "She's weakening," he assures us as the girl looks mournfully out of the window. "What did I tell you, eh? Oh yes, definitely softening up." She's out of the cab and on the verge of jumping when it finally clicks with the lost-in-his-own-world Joe that this is why she asked to be brought here. He eventually talks her down and discovers that her malaise depression has been triggered by the departure of her boyfriend Ronald. "You just need cheering up," Joe assures here, then takes her home and helps her strip off as a prelude to a presumably comforting shag. What a guy.

It's at this point that the departed Ronald (Ian Lavender) unexpectedly returns and reveals that this is the latest in a string of attention-seeking but insincere suicide attempts on Linda's part. This won't be the first time that Joe experiences a dose of unwelcome coitus interruptus, and is another element imported from the first Confessions film. Later, Long and his co-writer Suzanne Mercer create two scenes from a single encounter in Window Cleaner. The first ultimately lands Joe in bed with the very middle-class Mrs Devere Barker (Prudence Drage). The second has him sharing a bath with housewife Marion (Angela Scoular) after two get splattered with paint, only to have her husband Harold (Brian Wilde) unexpectedly come home and repeatedly open the bathroom door, forcing Joe to submerge, pop up for air, then dive back down again for an even longer stretch. Long really pushes his luck here, playing the gag for all it's worth and then some. What keeps it ticking over is the increasing desperation of Scoular's cries for her husband to leave her to finish her bath in peace.

Joe delivers a parcel for Mrs Devere Barker

It's clear from the off that Adventures of a Taxi Driver is very much a film of its time. Its most dated and potentially offensive elements will still have its fans, those nostalgic for a past when men could treat women as sexually available and enthusiastically compliant meat and mock those whose looks or personalities did fit the profile. Thus, Joe's girlfriend Carol may have the looks, but as played with lively energy by Adrienne Posta, is a pushy, demanding and acerbic harpy whose every appearance prompts Joe to roll his eyes in frustration. Yet despite this and going behind her back with other women every chance he gets, and even getting caught by her in bed with one of them, he seems oddly unwilling to break up with her. The comedic elements have, for the most part, also not aged that well, and some gags are so loudly telegraphed in advance that I was able to easily predict the exact nature – and in one case even the timing – of the approaching punchline. If you buy into the humour, however, that may well be the point.

I will give a shout out to some of the supporting cast, who inject life into potentially one-dimensional characters and occasionally brought a genuine smile to my face. Prudence Drage is great fun as the ever-so-slightly posh but unabashed Mrs Devere Barker, and I did like Angela Scoular's portrayal of Marion, the woman whose lost house keys trigger a series of events that peak with Joe hiding in the bath from her husband. Stephen Lewis has a cameo recreating his much-imitated Blakey from the TV comedy On the Buses, and I could happily have watched more of Liz Fraser's upbeat sex worker, Masie, whose relationship with Joe has such a genuine feel that this could have been the heart of an altogether more interesting movie. My favourite performances come from a young Robert Lindsay in his feature debut as Joe's good friend Tom, and Judy Geeson as his stripper girlfriend Nikki, a believable and likeable couple who let their spare room to Joe for a few weeks. Barry Evans does a decent enough job as Joe, although – and I genuinely can't believe I'm saying this – he does lack that oddly engaging air of cocksure clumsiness that Robin Askwith brought to the role of Timothy Lea in the Confessions films. That said, making Joe as flawed, as awkward, and as disaster-prone as Timmy makes him hard to dislike, despite his sexist prattle.

Joe, Nikki, Tom and Helga play spin the bottle

I can't fault Long for spotting an opportunity to make his mark in newly popular a market by borrowing an established template and adapting it to his own style. That I didn't really engage with it matters little given how financially successful it proved to be. Maybe it's just not for me, at least the me of 2022 – I can guarantee that if I'd seen it in my teenage years, when my hormones were screaming and the sight of naked women could still make me blush and quietly chuckle, it would have been a very different matter. There's less on-screen sex than in Window Cleaner (much of which was played for giggles anyway), but there are plenty of topless women, some male and female buttocks, and even a couple of full-frontal glimpses, including of our Joe. I'm still not sure how I feel about one scene, when Joe picks up female impersonator (whom I recognised as such even in wide shot before a poster reveals this fact to the audience) named Bunny McQueen and proceeds to seduce her under the impression that she is a woman. His horrified reaction when he slips his hand under her dress may have an all-too-familiar homophobic ring, but Bunny is not mocked or outlandishly parodied, and is more amused than offended by Joe's response. Full marks to actor Stephen Riddle for his portrayal here. That said, the most potentially taboo-busting scene is one that really caught me out and caused a friend to choke on his beer when I described it to him. While not shown in explicit detail (how could it be?), it involves a naked woman, a python that has escaped its basket, and an equally naked Joe watching in confusion as the woman has writhing orgasm that he has not instigated. Now that's a scene you won't find in Confessions of a Window Cleaner


Bob West (Christopher Neil) is a bit of a lad. When the alarm clock rings one morning, the very naked young woman lying next to him gets out of bed and prods him to do likewise. But Bob is too comfy, and as his female companion jumps into the shower, he tucks himself back under the sheets for a further snooze. It's then that the woman's burly husband arrives home from his night shift, throws off his clothes, and climbs into bed with what he presumes is his wife. Cut to the outside of the house, and the naked Bob is running for his life, kicking milk bottles akimbo and looking back only for the film to freeze-frame and hit us with the opening titles.

As the title suggests, Bob works as a private eye. Actually, he doesn't. He works at the office of a private eye named Judd Blake (Jon Pertwee), and although he's only been there a few weeks he's already gained a bit of a reputation as a dolt. Blake, on the other hand, is a randy old sod whose Wurzel Gummidge looks don't stop him from sleeping with every young secretary he hires. And they seem mysteriously happy to go along with this, dropping their kecks almost as soon as they set eyes on him instead of kicking him in the nuts and running away like they should. When Bob arrives at work that particularly morning, the latest secretary is sitting naked in Blake's office with a notebook and wearing only glasses and a smile. Blake reveals that he is heading out of town for a few days and has no option but to leave Bob in charge, but orders him to just take messages and under no circumstances take on a case. What to guess what happens almost as soon as Blake departs?

Bob and Derek examine the compromising photos of Laura and attract the attention of the whole pub

Before we get to that, there's the new secretary. Not the nude in Blake's office – she's hopped off with Blake – but her agency replacement. Bob, of course, gets all excited at the prospect of another shapely beauty throwing herself nakedly at him instead. Seconds later, he answers the door to Maud (Veronica Doran), a toothy, spectacled girl with her grandmother's dress sense who dishes out warnings about sexual harassment mixed with comments about her irresistibility. We're clearly meant to see her as the disappointed and slightly repulsed Bob clearly does, as a deluded woman devoid of beauty and sex appeal. I instantly liked her. It's shortly after this that pretty young Laura (Suzy Kendall) rolls up with a job for the man she mistakes for Blake, running roughshod over Bob's half-hearted attempts to correct her misapprehension. When she reveals that she wants him to locate the negatives of some compromising photos she is being blackmailed with, Bob can barely contain his slavering desire to get a look at the pics. When he does so, his eyes almost bulge of his head. All that's missing here is a loud salacious "Phwoar!" Of course he takes the job, and a couple of hours later is discussing his decision in the boozer with his altogether more level-headed friend, Derek (Ian Lavender), while the two pour over the saucy photos of Laura, something every sex-starved male standing behind them is also shortly doing over their shoulders.

And so begins Adventures of a Taxi Driver, the second of director, co-writer and co-producer Stanley Long's Adventures trilogy. Here, Barry Evans' Joe has been replaced by Christopher Neil as Bob, an initially carbon-copy cheeky chappie who still lusts after young women and still confides in the audience as if we're sitting or standing right next to him. Once again, the supporting cast has its share of recognisable faces of the day, who here include Harry H. Corbett, Fred Emney, Irene Handl, Julian Orchard and William Rushton, as well as the aforementioned Suzy Kendall and Jon Pertwee. Returning from the first film in different roles are Diana Dors, Liz Fraser, Ian Lavender and Adrienne Posta. Once again, our boy gets into situations where potential sexual encounters are disrupted by a third party, and once again he and the women he has these tristes with get just enough of their kit off to titillate a 70s audience without incurring the wrath of the British censor.

Adventures of a Private Eye certainly has a more substantial plot here than in its predecessor (not saying a lot, I know) and it certainly has pace and energy to spare. The supporting cast here is a bit of a mixed bag. Delivering the goods are Ian Lavender as Derek, Suzy Kendall as Laura, and Veronica Doran as Maud, but overplaying to a pantomime level are Harry H. Corbett as Sydney Burke and Anna Quayle as self-proclaimed mystic Medea Dotrice. The film also has an even wider selection of outdated characters and elements than its predecessor. Quite apart from the expected objectifying of too-willing women, we have the suggestion that vegetarianism makes you a bit of a crackpot, that old men are funny because they're pervy and hired goons are comical because they're preposterously fat. The racial stereotype boat is pushed out with gusto by Nicholas Young as Italian mobster Legs Luigi. By the time he enters the story I found myself thinking, "At least Joe hasn't blacked himself up with shoe polish, wrapped himself in a sheet and tried to pass himself off as an Indian fakir." Oh wait, my mistake, there he goes. And while while some will disagree and her animated energy is otherwise rather fun, I winced my way through Adrienne Posta's on-stage mockery of Cabaret-era Liza Minelli as Lisa Moroni. Maybe that's just me.

Sally suggests a bit of 'Last Tango in Paris'

And yet…

There's a good-natured feel to the film and the breezy pace that's established by the opening scenes that rarely drops and builds to a frantic level of farce at the climax. It certainly has more of a plot than its predecessor, and for all his womanising and objectifying, Bob's cocky self-confidence is frequently exposed here as an easily punctured bluff. He's put on the back foot by forcefully confident women, and when confronted with amorous housewife and S&M experimenter Sally (Hilary Pritchard) he runs in terror from what would probably have been a most enlightening and enjoyable sexual encounter. Of course, this may be a case of the film suggesting that anything outside its own rigidly defined norm for (strictly hetero-) sexual encounters is freaky and to be avoided, but Pritchard is so amusing as Sally and her dialogue so funny ("How about a bit of Last Tango in Paris?" she asks Joe enthusiastically while dressed in lively underwear and brandishing a whip, "I've got loads of butter in the fridge") that Bob ends up looking like an unadventurous doofus. Pleasingly, this also advances the plot, something true of almost all of the amorous encounters here, with the sequence bookended by a blackly comic situation involving a motorcycle cop and a dead body hidden a trunk. And while Bob's fourth-wall breaking relationship with the audience is established at an early stage, I still broke into a smile when Lisa reacts to the news that he's a private detective by telling him excitedly, "Ever since I was a little girl, I've had secret fantasies about dicks!" which prompts Joe to turn and look directly into the camera for a beat before delivering his reply.

I'm not going to claim that Adventures of a Private Eye is a misunderstood gem, but it does feel far less like a Confessions knock-off than the previous film, and Long's attempt to flesh out the plot at least provides a base structure from which the various comical and sexual encounters more organically grow. I did appreciate that after being the butt of a weary joke about her looks, Maud evolves into a useful and enthusiastic sidekick, teaming up with Derek to help solve Bob's case and even ending up in a relationship with him. I also like that Bob is not just prone to small disasters, but that he often resists or even attempts to flee the amorous encounters that he often inadvertently lands in. As ever, the supporting cast is peppered with Long regulars and familiar faces from the day, and the second half occasionally plays like a fully-fledged murder mystery. For me, it's definitely the best of the three movies, a view shared, we learn from the commentary, by its creator.


Okay, let's get serious. That's certainly the thought that ran through my head as I watched this third instalment of the Adventures series. There are times here when I suspected Long had experienced an epiphany and decided that the time was coming to move on from sex comedies and have a stab at making a regular drama. This was certainly to be the last of Adventures films. I think I can see why.

The film kicks off with a partial rerun of an animal gag from the first movie, but this time with a mouse instead of a python. We also get one of only three actual sex scenes in the whole trilogy, which once again is played for laughs, though cat lovers may have something to say about its comedy value. Christopher Neil is back again, but this time plays Sid South, and he's a plumber's mate. I mentioned this to a friend and he scoffed, "You mean, he's not even a full plumber?" The tone for what is to follow appears to be set when Sid takes the girl he has just slept with to work on the back of his motorbike, and sex-starved male Londoners have accidents galore because they become distracted by her the sight of thighs as her dress flaps in the wind. When Sid drops her off, breaks up with her and drives away, her dress gets caught on the bike and is ripped off, leaving her stark naked in the street. Sid used her knickers to mop up a leak from the water heater you see, that's why she has no underwear on. Anyone buying this?

Sid finds himself unexpectedly sharing a shower

Sid's first job of the day is given to him by his boss, who's played by Stephen Lewis doing his Blakey schtick again, but this time saddled with the late-series Carry On name of Crapper. The job in question proves to be for amorous housewife Janice (the always enjoyable Prudence Drage), who invites Sid into the bedroom for some fun and games involving handcuffs and a solid brass bedstead. Don't worry about my husband, she assures him, he's in prison for GBH but won't be out until tomorrow. Cut to Bill (Leon Greene) exiting the prison and being collected by his mate Carson (Peter Cleall), then stops off to phone Janice and tell her he's on his way home. "I must have got the day wrong!" squeaks the mortified Janice, but she's in her underwear and handcuffed to the bedstead, and Sid is similarly disrobed and handcuffed to her. And so begins an extended gag in which Sid and Janice struggle slowly downstairs whilst handcuffed to the heavy bedstead to get the handcuff key, then all the way back upstairs again when it's not there after all. Bill and Carson, meanwhile, handily pause the journey home so that the thirsty Bill can sink a couple of beers and reveal to Carson that the £200,000 in gold bars he nabbed in a safe deposit robbery has been melted down and painted, and is sitting in his house disguised as a toilet seat. The toilet seat the unaware Janice called Sid in to replace. The toilet seat that Sid, once free of the bedstead, unknowingly sells to a miserly antiques dealer for a pittance. A toilet seat the dealer then sells at an inflated price to a well-to-do gentleman (Richard Caldicot), who later turns out to be Chief Inspector Wallings of the Yard.

This proves to be the opening cannonade in a series of misadventures involving Sid, all of which are  triggered by his desperation to urgently make £900 to pay off a debt to an unforgiving bookie, whose two henchmen, Blackie (Arthur Mullard) and Stropper (Jerold Wells), keep popping up to threaten the sort of violence they both frankly look too old to deliver. The thing is, for a sizeable length of the film's running time, this becomes its sole raison d'être, consigning the sex comedy elements on which the film was sold to the back burner. If you came for the nudity, you'll get it in the opening scenes, but after Sid's girlfriend has been uncharitably disrobed in the street, that's the last bit of naked flesh you'll be seeing for almost an hour. Even the delightful Prudence Dange keeps her underwear on this time, and after her adventures with the bedstead, any trace of comical erotica is put on hold for the whole second act of the film. For the first time in the series, Long seems to want to get underneath the skin of his lead character. Whether he succeeds in doing so is open to debate.

The groundwork for this change in direction is laid in the opening scene when Sid gets a visit from a rent collector (Jonathan Adams) threatening imminent eviction. Later, there's a scene in which Sid sits and sombrely ponders his fate, while his fully clothed girlfriend Daisy (Elaine Paige, shortly before she hit the big time with Evita) listens patiently and offers sincere support. Indeed, after Sid is advised by Blackie to seek work with dodgy fixer named, er, Dodger (William Rushton), the film becomes a tale of a luckless and unhappy man who is forced into pretty crime to avoid being beaten up and kicked out of his flat. And despite a sprinkling of light-hearted moments, the tone of this section is surprisingly sombre. Ken Loach this is not, however. It seems to want to be both a sex comedy and a serious drama, but doesn't come close to striking gold as either. The drama is often drawn-out and uninvolving, and naughtiness too often treads familiar ground or repeats itself. The second time a woman is unceremoniously stripped of her clothing, for example, is essentially a re-run of the first, but with her dress pulled into a garbage disposal unit instead of caught on a departing motorcycle, and a visit Sid pays to another victim of his bookie's wrath is there to spring gags that go right back to silent cinema. Probably the best bit of comical erotica comes when Sid is taking a sneaky shower in an empty women's changing room, unaware that a quartet of young female tennis players is heading back there to wash and change. Those left twitching by the long wait for a bit more nudity will find plenty to ogle at here, and the gag of having the naked Sid wedged in the corner of the shower cubicle as one of the women showers unknowingly just in front of him whilst cheerfully conversing with her friends is rather well handled, not least because the banter between the women feels like the real deal rather than scripted dialogue. Of course, this realism flies out of the window when these four young women discover this naked man hiding in their shower, and instead of calling the police they lock the door with the clear intention of shagging him senseless.

Sid is warned of the consequences of not paying by Stropper and Blackie

The bones of more involving and developed movie are definitely there and there are some solid performances amongst the supporting cast – there's no question that Long had a real eye for emerging talent. Elaine Page impresses in her feature debut as Sid's girlfriend, as do Richard Caldicot as Inspector Wallings and the always impressive Derek Martin as a motorcycle dealer. The elements are all there but for me they never really gel into a satisfying whole. It doesn't help that a couple of the dramatic scenes really drag, a sharp contrast to the brisk pace at which the first two films zipped along. There's also plenty to date the film at a climactic wild party that Long assures us on the commentary was based on one he attended in France. Here Christopher Biggins makes his feature debut as a campy neurotic who is in love with an inflatable doll that you just know will get punctured, and David Rayner plays a middle-aged gay seducer whose startled expression shifts to one of delight when the handle of Sid's sink plunger is inadvertently thrust into his rectum.

After warming to the second film, I found myself really struggling with this one, but will still admit to being just occasionally amused. Perhaps my favourite moment comes when Blackie gruffly reads out a note from his boss instructing him what to do to Sid if he is unable to pay the £900. "Says here," says Blackie, "'Tell that lying git that if he don't cough up, we'll break every bone in his horrible body and stuff the bleeding lot down his throat'." He then looks skyward with a sense of wonder and says to no-one in particular, "Like poetry, ain't it."

sound and vision

The HD remasters for all three films in this set were supplied by Screenbound Pictures, and I know no more about their restoration than that. The quality varies, but seems to be very much at the mercy of the source material. That said, all three transfers are impressively clean and stable in frame, and all are framed at the correct aspect ratio of 1.85:1. They're also very watchable, irrespective of any inherent flaws.

Adventures of a Taxi Driver was shot on 16mm and blown up to 35mm for distribution and is unquestionably the weakest of the transfers here. Image sharpness varies from rather crisp to noticeably soft, with the detail in close-ups tending to be more clearly defined than in wider shots. The contrast is not exactly punchy and the pastel-leaning colour palette has a sometimes faded look. Grain is very visible throughout.

There's a noticeable jump in quality all round for Adventures of a Private Eye, which I have to presume was shot on 35mm. Detail is sharper, the contrast better balanced, the black levels solid and the colours much more robust. The film grain is also far finer here.

Adventures of a Plumber's Mate was also probably shot on 35mm, but doesn't quite have the consistency of quality of Private Eye, but is still visibly superior to Taxi Driver. Colour is naturalistic and the contrast well balanced, though there is some faint but detectable flickering visible on areas of single colour.

All three films have Linear PCM 1.0 mono soundtracks, which are devoid of any signs of wear and background hiss, but do have a limited dynamic range, with little at the bass end of the spectrum. The weakest once again is Adventures of a Taxi Driver, whose dialogue and music both have slightly tinny feel. None of this seriously impacts on the viewing experience, however, as this is standard fare for low budget films of the period, and thus to be expected.

Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired are available.

special features


Audio Commentary with Stanley Long (2008)
The first of three commentaries recorded by Stanley Long in 2008 is pleasingly busy with details about the making of the film, as well as warmly expressed praise for his collaborators. We get information on the actors, the bit players (who include Ingmar Berman's daughter Anna and Long's close friend, 70s horrormeister Pete Walker), the locations, the grabbed street-shot footage, the scenes inspired by true stories (there are a couple of surprises here), and the importance of starting with a decent script. He admits up front the influence of Alfie, talks about the film's financial success and the positive audience reaction at the time, and describes the child playing Joe's young sister as "an absolute nightmare." Unsurprisingly, he has contempt for the critical response to the film, and seems particularly bitter about one 'feminist' female reviewer's lack of engagement with it. Nonetheless, a solid commentary that really added to my appreciation of the work that went into making film.

Joe banters with sex worker Maisie

The BEHP Interview with Stanley Long: Part One (87:28)
The first part of an epic audio interview with Long conducted in 1999 for the British Entertainment History Project by Denis Gifford and Emmanuel Yospa. This segment covers Long's early days working in photography, through his later nudie shorts to the 1963 nudist camp feature, Take Off Your Clothes and Live. This proves to be genuinely compelling stuff, largely because Long is such an engaging raconteur and had such an interesting career path, all of which he is able to recall in enthralling and meticulous detail. There are generation gap moments when he and Gifford start complaining about these kids today, and also when Long expresses a dislike for computers and speculates that the internet may prove to be a very bad thing. Perhaps the most intriguing comment comes when Long suggests that none of his family is happy about some of the things that he has done. It's captivating stuff that left me aching to move onto the next instalment. The interview plays under the film in the manner of a second commentary track. Parts 2 and 3 are presented in a similar fashion as audio tracks on the other two discs.

Peter Sinclair's Camera (14:54)
Long's regular cinematographer, Peter Sinclair, begins by outlining the roles of director of photography and camera operator, and emphasises the importance of the relationship between the two. He recalls meeting and working with director Pete Walker, and that Long gave him the big break of his career by asking him to photograph Adventures of a Taxi Driver when he was just 22 years of age. He talks about shooting in a real taxi cab on 16mm, how much he enjoyed making the Adventures films, and shooting music videos for the likes of Madonna, Prince and others. He also, like so many of us, wishes he'd taken better care of his back. The only distracting visual tick is an editing style that sometimes rapidly bounces back and forth between mid-shot and close-up for seemingly no reason. A visually annoying attempt to hide jump-cuts, perhaps?

Theatrical Trailer (3:11)
A lively trailer that captures the essence of the film rather well, for better or worse. Has enough nudity (including male genitalia) to suggest this was only screened before other 'X' rated movies.

Joe is nearly caught in the act in Adventures of a Taxi Driver

There are two Image Galleries here. Promotional Materials has 44 screens of production stills, promotional photos, lobby cards, press book pages, scans of the novelisation cover, video covers and posters. Original Screenplay consists of 32 screens of the scanned script, two page per screen. Interesting to see a script laid out in terms of the film reels it will occupy.

The Best of Adventures (1981)(86:25)
A feature-length, made-for-video compilation of clips from all three films, introduced by journalist Peter Noble. Hard to say much about this one, as there's little here you won't get from the film's themselves, apart from a brief selection of clips redubbed for various foreign markets. That said, its inclusion really adds to the completist feels of this release.


Audio commentary with Stanley Long
I had a feeling whilst listening to this second commentary by Long that he'd said much of what he wanted to say in the first one and saw no reason to repeat himself here. There's still plenty of interesting detail on the making of the film, the actors, the story development and the new central character, but there are a lot more dead spots here than in the previous commentary. Long explains why this film was more difficult to write than the others in the series and admits that it moves a little slower than its predecessor, but feels it's the best of the three. I'm with him on that. His irritation with child actors resurfaces when one is picked up by the actor playing his father, and Long remarks, "I would have been happy if he'd thrown the child out of the window, he was so bad."

The BEHP Interview with Stanley Long: Part Two (91:40)
The second part of the British Entertainment Project interview with Long is as enthralling as the first, continuing his fascinating journey as a filmmaker from his days making training films for the RAF through to the 1970 The Wife Swappers, the second of three films produced by Long and directed by Derek Ford. The journey there is littered with interesting stories, including his work as cinematographer Michael Reeves' The Sorcerers and Arnold Miller's London in the Raw, Primitive London and Secrets of a Windmill Girl. He talks about meeting and shooting a short film for photography icon David Bailey, skips over an undiscussed disagreement with Miller that convinced him never to go into partnership with anyone again, gives his reasons for favouring monochrome over colour, and a good deal more. He goes into some detail on his relationship with then chief censor John Trevelyan, shows his interviewers a prize pick from his collection of movie memorabilia – a 1913 invoice signed by Georges Méliès – and most intriguingly of all provides details of an uncredited two weeks of shooting he did on Roman Polanski's Repulsion after funding triggered delays saw the departure of that film's DP Gilbert Taylor.

Lisa Moroni reveals her enthusiasm for dicks

Stanley by Simon (18:52)
Long is remembered by his biographer and friend Simon Sheridan, who does a grand job of selling him as a filmmaking dynamo who was much more than the 'King of Sexploitation' label stuck on him by that ghastly rag, The Sun. Lavishly illustrated with stills, film clips and memorabilia, it's here that I learned that Long not only produced Cronenberg's The Brood, but also directed its award-winning trailer, the first to feature infra-red shots of audiences cowering in fear at to the film. He also reveals that the real reason Barry Evans wasn't in the second Adventures film was that he was so difficult on set on the first, and opines that that the quality dipped with Adventures of a Plumber's Mate. With you there. This also has a little of that bouncing between mid-shot and close-up, but it's at least carefully rationed here.

Super 8 version (16:00)
A massively compressed version of the film that dispenses with character introduction scenes, key plot points, and even some of the nudity, which surprised me. In colour with a synchronised soundtrack, it's in better shape than a good many such 8mm extras, but far from sparkling.

Theatrical Trailer (2:59)
Captures the essence of the film well enough and emulates its style. Not hard to see how this sold the film in 1977.

Image Gallery
31 screens of promotional photos, press book scans, VHS video covers, posters, and cover scans of the novelisation.

Can You Keep It Up with This, That and the Other for a Week? (2004) (15:38)
A shot-on-video homage to 70s British sex comedies by writer-director Jan Manthey that recreates the content and the cheesy opening theme song music of the films, but not their look, their pace or their confident performances. Vic Pratt plays Robin Evans, window cleaner that seemingly all women are attracted to, then is subjected to a sex ray that makes him irresistible to women. Hang on a sec… An accident sees him get an overdose of the ray that makes him a sexual magnet so strong that he even attracts other men and a man in a gorilla suit….er, I mean an escaped gorilla. Made by what looks like a group of friends with no access to lights, off-camera sound recording equipment, or anyone with much in the way of acting experience, its enthusiastic, 'let's make a movie' amateurism is nonetheless a key aspect of its peculiar charm. The film is presented in Standard Definition in its original 4:3 aspect ratio, and optional English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired are included.

Robin Evans is invited in by an unsatisfied housewife in Can You Keep It Up with This, That and the Other for a Week?

This can also be played with a commentary by writer-director Jan Manthey and actors Diana Manthey and Vic Pratt. They discuss the on-screen action, the locations and the performers, but don't say a lot about the production. Manthey does reveal that he later saw the 1976 sex comedy I'm Not Feeling Myself Tonight and was surprised to find it had a similar plot, and notes that this film brought him to the attention of Stanley Long.

Also accompanying the film is an Image Gallery, which features 25 screens of publicity snaps taken during the shoot. Is it me, or does Vic Pratt's head look like it's been montaged on afterwards on a couple of these.


Audio Commentary with Stanley Long
This third commentary by Long follows the format of its immediate predecessor, with worthwhile background information on the making of the film peppered with periods of silence that would doubtless be filled with general details about the trilogy had they not already been covered in the first commentary. Subjects covered include the budget, the actors, the bit part players (which include Long), the grabbed sequence of the girl who is stripped naked on a public street, the popularity of sex comedies in the 1970s, the development of the script, the sequence that was inspired by a real event, why he decided to make this the last Adventures film, and more. He tells an intriguing story about Elaine Page's legal representative asking for her name to be removed from all publicity material when she landed the lead in Evita, and another about having to then fire Jimmy Edwards when he rolled up to the set drunk on his first day. He also talks about Jan Manthey and The Adventures of a Plumber in Outer Space, which is handily included on this very disc.

The BEHP Interview with Stanley Long: Part Three(74:31)
The final part of this consistently fascinating interview with Long brings his story up to date, starting with the 1970 Groupie Girl and ending with his retirement from filmmaking to become a supplier of film equipment instead. There is plenty of discussion on the Adventures films – some of which is new to this extra – and the 1975 Eskimo Nell, which Long produced and was directed by a talented young newcomer named Martin Campbell, whose later credits include GoldenEye, Casino Royale and the brilliant TV serial Edge of Darkness (also its later big screen remake with Mel Gibson, but let's not talk about that). It's a shame that he skips over his company's distribution of such genre gems as The Exterminator, Creepshow and those aforementioned early David Cronenberg works, but we do get some worthwhile detail on his own, less well remembered feature work and his plans for further films that never came to fruition. He is clearly not enamoured with the then new computer-based editing systems, and encourages Gifford and Yospa to interview his good friend Pete Walker for the BEHP – whether they did so will probably be revealed should Indicator release one of Walker's horror works at some future date. Here's hoping.

Prudence Drage as Janice

Dear Prudence (2022) (14:02)
Prudence Drage, one of Long's favourite performers and one of the high points of the Adventures films, talks about her film career and her eventual disillusion and move into music after only being offered mediocre parts in which she bares her breasts. "The best thing about me was my tits," she remarks at one point. She talks about auditioning for her small role in A Clockwork Orange and enlivening the atmosphere on set, and although now in her late 70s, she's absolutely bristling with infectious energy. The only blip is that attention-deficit popping between mid-shot and close-up, which is sometimes so relentless and rapid that I found myself averting my sensitive eyes and listening to the entertaining soundtrack instead.

Theatrical Trailer (2:09)
Plenty of nudity and visual gags in another 'X' rated trailer, which this time is narrated by Stephen Lewis in his On the Buses Blakey voice. Sorry, no sale. Framed 4:3 with muted colour and seriously tinny sound.

Image Gallery
23 screens of publicity photos, press book pages, covers of the novelisation and the VHS release, and a single poster.

The Adventures of a Plumber in Outer Space (2008) (44:34)
Director Jan Manthey's semi-feature-length follow-up to Can You Keep It Up with This, That and the Other for a Week? again stars Vic Pratt as the hapless but curiously alluring Robin Evans, who has grown a small beard and become a plumber since his previous adventures. More of the same, really, but considerably more ambitious in scope, with constructed sets (I wouldn't get too excited) and some roles played by auditioned actors. Here, the men on some distant alien planet can no longer get it up, and its lead scientist Dr. Defghi (Kevin James) and his assistant Hepesh (Quinn Patrick) have been charged with locating a suitably attractive Earthman to impregnate their female ruler, Queen Azzizaz (Marie Magnusson). Guess who they pick. Their timing is impeccable, teleporting Robin just as he has been caught frolicking in the bath with Mrs Zucker (Diana Manthey) by her police sergeant husband (Robert H. Wainwright), both of whom are also accidentally grabbed by the teleporter ray. Sexually suggestive comedy antics ensue.

The Adventures of a Plumber in Outer Space retains the bargain basement look and feel of its predecessor, but even more overtly references the films that inspired it. There's a direct nod to Stanley Long in the recreation of a key comedy sequence from Adventures of a Taxi Driver, and Long himself has a brief cameo as an irate driver. The women are all oversexed and gagging for it, Hepesh is played as a camp and sex-hungry homosexual, and the climactic farcical running about is almost asking to be rescored with the Benny Hill theme. Maybe it's the cheerfully cheap sets, the Christmas decoration costumes and the sometimes less-than-sparkling dialogue delivery, but just occasionally I found myself thinking that if Ed Wood had made a 70s British sex comedy, it would look like this. This is not intended as a put down, but a compliment from someone with a deep affection for Wood's movies. Perhaps this is the reason that, for all its wobbly aspects, I rather enjoyed it. A bit like some of the movies that inspired it, then. That said, Manthey clearly knew what he was doing, as revealed in the line delivered by Robin immediately after his teleportation, "One minute I'm being sat on in a bath, the next minute I appear in what looks like the set of a cheap sci-fi movie." I'll give a serious shout for the genuinely inspired bit of saucy misdirection that is the 'Arena of Death' gag, which was apparently made-up on the spot but made me laugh out loud – bravo! It's also a tad ironic that in a film in which some roles are played by actors rather than the filmmakers' mates, the best performance comes from Manthey's wife Diana, who throws herself into the role of sexually overeager housewife Mrs Zucker.

Queen Azzizaz brbandishes Stanley Long's plunger as Robin Evans awaits to hear his fate

This can also be watched with a commentary with writer-director Jan Manthey and actors Diana Manthey and Vic Pratt, who comment on the action, reveal where the set was built and location shots were filmed, talk about Manthey's friendship with Stanley Long, and share a few details about the production. It's hard to know at times whether they're being serious about everything or dryly sarcastic, particularly when Pratt asks Manthey if his framing was influence by Ozu. Again this is framed 4:3 and has optional SDH subtitles.

The accompanying Image Gallery features a whopping 92 screens of colour publicity and behind-the-scenes photos, and even a poster.

Also included in the package is a gorgeously produced and handsomely illustrated 80-page Book – I have the finished product now, so can testify with authority to its quality. As expected, it opens with the full credits for all three films, then hands the mic over to Stanley Long's biographer and friend Simon Sheridan, who in a concise introduction outlines how he met long and came to ghost-write Long's autobiography. After this, he takes a deep and enthralling dive into Long's fascinating life and career, in essence compressing some of key elements of the autobiography into a lively 12 pages. A reproduction of an article published in Screen International in 1977 covering the production of Adventures of a Private Eye is interesting, particularly for the many quotes from Stanley Long. Also from the same issue of Screen International is an interview with leading man Christopher Neil, who talks about his work on the film as well as his theatre and TV roles and his increasingly successful music career. Following this is a letter written by Peter and Stanley Long to The Guardian in response to disparaging words written about Adventures of a Taxi Driver by John Cunningham. Next are a couple of articles from the Evening Standard that focus on how the publicity for the newly released Adventures of Plumber's Mate might negatively impact of the upcoming launch of Evita, in which Elaine Paige plays the lead role. An interesting article by Indicator's Jeff Billington about the films' inevitable novelisations is followed by a short piece on the video company Intervision and clip compilation film The Best ofAdventures. Rounding things off are credits for Can You Keep it Up with This, That and the Other for a Week and The Adventures of a Plumber in Outer Space, and few engaging pages by director Jan Manthey on his relationship with Stanley Long.


It's a fact of cinema that some films age better than others, and comedy is especially vulnerable to the whims of changing taste. Had I been alive in the 1930s or 40s, for example, British music hall comedy may well have had me rolling in the aisles, but I wasn't and it absolutely doesn't. The Adventures movies are very much creations of their time, and while some of their humour – note some – does still register, the films' gender politics feel trapped in the past. As barometers of (male) attitudes of their day, they remain fascinating, and having had to watch each of the films several times, I do salute their pace, their energy and their moments of genuine invention, qualities that did start to seriously wane in the third film. In the end, they're just not my current cup of tea, but I'm not sure that matters. Others will still enjoy them for the nostalgia they awaken of a bygone time, and they have real value as cinematic time capsules. I may not be an enthusiastic fan, but I was also able to view them with an eye for the time in which they were made and appreciate the qualities that shine through the aspects that date them.

Yet here's the thing. If this box set only contained the films, then I'd probably not be recommending it to anyone but the curious or those with a particular liking for such works. But it doesn't. Not by a long shot. Watching the movies was one thing, but watching and listening to the plethora of superb special features was another thing entirely. Due to work and life commitments, it took me an age to get through them all, hence the appalling lateness of this review. But by the time I finished, Stanley Long had gone from being the director of three successful British sex comedies to one of the most fascinating and prolific filmmakers I have yet encountered. There is so much to discover here about him and the wide range of films that he worked on, and even if the Adventures films are not for you, this remarkable box set still gets my highest recommendation. I was initially working from review discs but became so enamoured that I bought the retail release and it's a glorious thing. Inside the sturdy cardboard sleeve you'll find the three discs packaged separately in their own attractive card-covered housings, along with the above-detailed and handsomely presented book. And what's this? Yes, you also get a study, double sided fold-out poster for Adventures of a Taxi Driver and Adventures of a Private Eye. It may be down to others to champion the films, but I still love this box set, and cannot praise it highly enough. A surprise release from Indicator, but a terrific one.

Stanley Long's Adventures: A Seventies Sex Comedy Threesome
Stanley Long's Adventures
A Seventies Sex Comedy Threesome

Adventures of a Taxi Driver
UK 1976
89 mins
directed by
Stanley Long
produced by
Stanley Long
Peter Long
written by
Suzanne Mercer
idea by
Stanley Long
Peter Sinclair
Jo Gannon
De Woolf
art direction
Carlotta Barrow
Barry Evans
Judy Geeson
Adrienne Posta
Diana Dors
Liz Fraser
Jane Hayden
Ian Lavender
Stephen Lewis
Robert Lindsay
Henry McGee
Angela Scoular
Brian Wilde
Anna Bergman
Prudence Drage

Adventures of a Private Eye
UK 1977
96 mins
directed by
Stanley Long
produced by
Stanley Long
Peter Long
written by
Suzanne Mercer
Stanley Long (uncredited)
Peter Sinclair
Jo Gannon
De Woolf
art direction
Carlotta Barrow
Christopher Neil
Suzy Kendall
Harry H. Corbett
Diana Dors
Fred Emney
Liz Fraser
Irene Handl
Ian Lavender
Julian Orchard
Jon Pertwee
Adrienne Posta
Anna Quayle
William Rushton
Robin Stewart
Veronica Doran
Jonathan Adams
Richard Caldicot

Adventures of a Plumber's Mate
UK 1978
88 mins
directed by
Stanley Long
produced by
Peter Long
Stanley Long (uncredited)
written by
Stephen D. Frances
Aubrey Cash
Peter Sinclair
Jo Gannon
Christopher Neil
art direction
Carlotta Barrow
Christopher Neil
Arthur Mullard
Anna Quayle
Stephen Lewis
Christopher Biggins
Elaine Paige
Nina West
William Rushton
Prudence Drage
Peter Cleall
Claire Davenport
Richard Caldicot
Lindy Benson
Stephen Riddle
Jonathan Adams
Leon Greene
Neville Barber

disc details
region ABC
LPCM 1.0 mono
English SDH
Audio Commentary with Stanley Long on Adventures of a Taxi Driver
Audio Commentary with Stanley Long on Adventures of a Private Eye
Audio Commentary with Stanley Long on Adventures of a Plumber's mate
BEHP Interview with Stanley Long
Interview with cinematographer Peter Sinclair
Image galleries
The Best of Adventuresclip compilation feature
Simon Sheridan on Stanley Long
Super 8 version of Adventures of a Private Eye
Can You Keep It Up with This, That and the Other for a Week? short film
Can You Keep It Up with This, That and the Other for a Week? commentary
Interview with actor Prudence Drage
The Adventures of a Plumber in Outer Space short film

Indicator [Powerhouse Films]
release date
25 April 2022
review posted
24 May 2022

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