Double Feature #27: Confessions of a ....
Any conversation about the Confessions series inevitably leads to a comparison to the Carry On films. Both franchises share a particularly bawdy brand of humor; however, Confessions is almost universally regarded as inferior.
The caliber of acting in Confessions is certainly worse (often dire) and the level of humor is consistently idiotic. However, the Confessions films have one edge over Carry On - and that is a happy willingness to get sleazy. While Benny Hill, Are You Being Served? and Carry On could certainly get risque with their humor - Confessions could get downright graphic, with copious full frontal nudity.
The Confessions movies are based on the novels of Christopher Wood and each feature Robin Askwith as the cluelessly promiscuous Timothy Lea and Anthony Booth as Sydney his brother-in-law. The films greatly benefitted from the relaxation of censorship laws in Britain, and a more sexually permissive culture (as evidenced by the tidal wave of sex-coms coming out of England and Australia at the time). What better time to translate a series of sex paperbacks to film?
Confessions of a Window Cleaner (1974)
This is the first in the series. Soon to be followed by Confessions of a Pop Performer (1975), Confessions of a Driving Instructor (1976) and Confessions from a Holiday Camp (1977),
Take note that there were also the Adventures movies [Adventures of a Plumber's Mate (1978), Adventures of a Private Eye (1977), Adventures of a Taxi Driver (1976)]. But that's a topic for another day.
We're introduced to the two main characters of the series who, in this installment, are running a window cleaning service. At left is Sidney, always out to make a buck. At right - Timothy, amazingly clueless, but even more amazingly unlucky with the birds (a trait that will change soon enough).
Syd is concerned that Timmy is still a virgin, so sets him up with a stripper... and things go horribly wrong. Then, it's a second try with one of his window cleaning customers - Jaqui, a nympho housewife. If Timmy can't get lucky here, he may as well start singing with the Vienna Boys Choir (so says Syd).
Sue Longhurst plays the slightly unhinged cougar wonderfully. Poor Timmy doesn't know what to make of his predicament; and his last attempt went so badly - how will he perform?
I'm happy to report Timmy is soon shagging like a pro.
Don't you love how in TV and film, a little bit of soap can create roomfuls of suds? An episode of The Brady Bunch and the film Revenge of the Cheerleaders comes to mind.
I should also mention that Timmy has also fallen head-over-heels for a policewoman, Elizabeth Radlett (Linda Hayden).
So how will this turn out? We have a newfound sexual freedom on one hand, and a newfound love on the other. Stay tuned.
No sooner has Elizabeth agreed to an old-fashioned date with Tim, he is back to shagging his window cleaning customers. This time it's a shy bespectacled teacher named Carole (Katya Wyeth). As happens time and again in the Confessions movies, the father, boyfriend or husband comes along unexpectedly. It's comedy of the most lowbrow variety, but still brings along a smile.
On the date with Elizabeth, Timmy can't keep his hands off her. But she wants to take things slower and get to know him better first... an incomprehensible position to dim Timmy.
After the movie they head to her home where he meets her rigid police officer father (John Le Mesurier) who, as you might imagine, isn't exactly impressed with the boy.
Back on the job, Timmy can't seem to stay out of his customer's beds. This time it's marshmallow eating Brenda (Olivia Munday). But there's a major twist - instead of being caught by her husband, father or boyfriend... this time it's the landlord!
His next customer is mean old Ms. Villius, but as luck would have it, only her foxy French maid (Anita Graham) is at home. Even luckier, Timmy finds a "Naked Yoga" book.
This should be good.
The two are soon getting into all sorts of awkward contortions, when (yep, you guessed it) Ms. Villius comes home and discovers them in their compromising position.
At this point, even I am getting a bit tired of this routine. Time to change things up a bit...
Timmy does some window work for a depressed housewife, Elvie (Judy Matheson). After four years of marriage she's caught her mate, Ronnie, cheating. Timmy offers some friendly advice: to turn the tables on her lover by making him jealous. "A taste of his own medicine."
Elvie decides that Timmy is just the man to help her. She demands he get in bed with her, when Ronnie pulls up into the driveway.
Both are in bed when Ronnie busts open the door - and, lo and behold, Ronnie is a woman! (I suppose this was shocking and hilarious in 1974.)
Another date with the love of his life - policewoman Elizabeth. Will the old-fashioned girl finally fall for his boyish charm?
That would be a "yes". We are treated to a full frontal Linda Hayden, reason enough to go out and watch this today.
But unlike the other birds he's been sleeping with, this encounter spells marriage.
What follows is your typical "blue collar family meets highbrow family" as Timmy and Elizabeth's families gather for the wedding. But where's Timmy?
For a film that's been reliably predictable since the start, the ending comes as a genuine surprise.
Timmy completely jilts her. So, Elizabeth does the natural thing and sleeps with Sydney. WTF?
It's an odd ending to be sure - and I'm not sure what the point is. But then, it's always best not to think too hard when watching the Confessions films.
Confessions of a Pop Performer (1975)
Confessions of a Pop Performer begins where Confessions of a Window Cleaner leaves off - with Timothy Lea (Robert Askwith) once again landing in bed with a cougar, only to be discovered by an irate husband, home unexpectedly early. In this case, the cuckold charges Timothy with a javelin, sending him flying out the window... and really questioning his career path.
Fortunately, his always scheming brother-in-law, Sydney (Anthony Booth), has the answer - they'll be managers of a pop band.
Sydney sends Timothy over to a wealthy record producer's house to see if he can leverage a deal. Unfortunately, the only one home is his wife, Mrs. Barnwell (Jill Gascoine). I bet you can predict what happens next.
How'd you guess? Timothy and Mrs. Barnwell have sex, and are almost busted when the record exec husband (Bob Todd) comes home early. The Confessions movies are nothing if not predictable - but we do get to see some full frontal nudity courtesy of Gascoine.
Mr. and Mrs. Barnwell have sex (I'm amazed at how uninhibited Gascoine is in this picture), and Sydney calls at just the right time. Suffice it to say, Mr. Barnwell is in good spirits, and agrees to give their band, The Kippurs, a shot.
Timothy runs into (literally) a local journalist, Jill Brown (Carol Hawkins) who's interested in covering his band at their next gig. Up in her office, Timothy literally destroys the entire place through acts of outrageous stupidity. He sets the room on fire, knocks down walls, and sprays everyone with a fire extinguisher. One wonders if Timothy is just playing the fool, and really is just a destructive human being at heart.
So, it's the day of the big gig. Journalist Jill (and her esteemed father) is there, the record exec, Mr. Barnwell, is there, and an audience full of hippies and geriatrics are in attendance. But there's a problem - the drummer has hand disabled, and Timothy must fill in for him.
The Kippers, taking a queue from The Who, utterly demolish the stage, enraging the headline act, The Climax Sisters and Mr. Barnwell.
However, the crowd loves them. Their song "The Clapper" got all the ladies' panties in a bunch, and it's Beatlemania all over again.
And it's on to the big time. [From L to R] Jill now acts as The Kipper's PR person, Sydney is their proud manager already counting the mad stacks of cash, and Mr. Barnwell is their record producer, skeptical in light of their obvious complete lack of talent.
Next, Syd and Tim crash a famous DJ's swanky party in order to get their new record some airplay. There, Timothy meats up with Ruth (Maggie Wright) and they trot off to the bedroom.
Timothy is infatuated with scuba gear that happens to be in the room, and pretends to swim, whilst Ruth gets naked. Little do they realize, they're in front of a one-way mirror, so their shenanigans are visible to whole party. A pretty funny scene, actually.
Interesting Note: In September 1968, Maggie Wright became the first person to appear fully naked on the legitimate British stage, as Helen of Troy in a Royal Shakespeare Theatre production of Marlowe's "Faustus".
And she's at it again - this time in a slightly less respectable production.
Syd's next plan: Go to all the record stores and buy up all the Kipper albums. That should raise some attention!
On his rounds, Timothy meets a pretty bird at the register. We get to see the classic Miniskirt on Ladder routine, but it's bothering me that I don't know this actress' name. Anyone know?
As is his custom, Timothy jumps straight to penetration. We get to see all of mystery girl, but unfortunately we also get to see more than our share of Askwith. The two hump madly atop mounds of Cliff Richard albums, until she awkwardly discovers the Kipper singer in a rather uncomfortable location.
The Kippers are starting to get frustrated with Sydney; they want Jill (who's becoming quite the Yoko) to be their new manager. Syd, in an attempt to save his job, gives it one last shot. He bangs Mrs. Barnwell to get them a spot on Britain's biggest music show - "Star Knockers"!
But it's a disaster. When the song is through, Syd hits the fire alarm to make the show's "Applause-o-meter" needle read high. But it reads too high, and explodes violently (which is just plain stupid, but whatever).
In the aftermath, they learn this has potentially ruined their hopes of musical stardom and decide to break up... until their lucky break finally arrives. Jill's father gets them a gig at The London Pallacium (obviously a twist on the Palladium).
Minutes before Kipper is supposed to be onstage, Timothy's gotten himself into trouble once again. He's having sex with a contortionist (Helli Louise) backstage. As lewd as this film has been this far, I was still amazed at this scene. Suffice it to say, Louise shows no shame... and has little to be ashamed about.
Again, the cuckold breaks up the passion, and Timothy must escape wearing only his skimpy underwear (not a pretty sight). Syd manages to get him a woman's dress seconds before the curtain raises. The crowd, of course, loves it.
It's all good fun; nothing particularly special. If you occasionally like your humor on the smutty side, this may be for you.