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Films: A is for...

Adventures… films, The

With Robin Askwith’s red-arsed Confessions ruling cinemas nationwide for no readily explained reason, sleaze kingpin Stanley Long got onto the cinematic equivalent of a Banda duplicator to produce the short-lived Adventures series. Adventures Of A Taxi Driver, set Barry ‘Mind Your Language’ Evans up as the hapless hero, but keeping the coarser Long tone and trademarks – the film starts with a mockumentary montage of location footage as a voiceover pays sarcastic tribute to the Great London Cabbie, before we’re launched into the Adventures proper with a truly unpleasant “gag” involving a pet snake. Evans was replaced by Christopher Neil for the follow- ups …private Eye and …plumber’s Mate (which rather sneakily nicked its premise of the never-made fifth Confessions film). They’re all much of a muchness really, although two points stand out. They truly are the seediest-looking films you’ll ever see, mainly because they’re not trying for it – Evans’ bedsit is surely the grottiest ever seen in the cinema, but you can bet it was only chosen because it belonged to a cast or crew member. The other strange thing is the sheer unabashed tokenism of the cameos. Willie Rushton spends many a scene talking to other characters on a telephone in a box-room, having clearly been bussed in for the day, put in a couple of hours, collected his cheque, and gone home. …Plumber’s Mate featured Stephen ‘Blakey’ Lewis and Elaine Paige. Jon P’Twee, playing a bent copper who absconds to Rio (a location signified by having P’Twee in his pants on a sunlounger surrounded by rubber plants), provides a delightful punchline by having his penis shredded by a toppling electric fan. Best of all, Shaw Taylor’s cameo in …Private Eye consists of him merely walking up to the camera and giving the lens a quizzical mugging stare, thus allowing the audience to go “It’s Shaw Taylor!”



  1. Layton Percy Jones

    October 7, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Both the Confession and Adventure films killed of the great Carry On franchise – I think the Confession were a tiny bit superior to the adventure films

  2. Lee James Turnock

    April 8, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    Stanley Long later founded the Alpha Video label, responsible for the pants-shittingly scary synth doodle logo and for giving the good patrons of video libraries everywhere some solid gold classics like Creepshow, the Exterminator, Dawn of the Dead and Shivers.

  3. Droogie

    February 27, 2021 at 9:02 am

    I recall Channel 5 in its early days showing a 70’s British sex comedy every Friday night for a while. The Adventures films were especially grim viewing, but not without interest. The Private Eye one features a cameo by the wonderful Adrienne Posta playing a genuinely funny parody of Liza Minelli, which you don’t expect to see in a low grade movie like this. Christopher Neil’s post- movie career as a record producer is quite impressive too – anyone who produced the Minder theme by Dennis Waterman is ok in my book.
    ( BTW – there is actually an even seedier bedsit shown on screen in The Amorous Milkman , another grubby sex comedy bizarrely written and directed by cult actor Derren Nesbitt.)

  4. Sidney Balmoral James

    February 27, 2021 at 9:58 am

    Although not that old in cinematic terms, these films are now purely historical artifacts – no one watches them for titillation or entertainment – as they presumably once did – and not even for nostalgia, because that implies a degree of affection or regret: these are just fascinating documents of the era, and not just of its decor. Okay, that and the strangeness of character actors and once esteemed comics reduced to appearing cheek-by-jowl with some of the least erotic situations ever captured on film. Although a peculiar British variant, these are part of a strain in international cinema in the 70s, which saw joyless sex and nudity grafted onto low comedy, often with quite distinguished actors present (e.g. Mastroianni, Tognazzi etc.) Robin Askwith appeared in a Pasolini film! Although Paolo missed the opportunity to cast Irene Handl and Arthur Lowe in Salo.

  5. Droogie

    February 28, 2021 at 3:07 am

    @SidneyBalmoralJames I was watching the wonderful Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush from 1968 recently. That was probably the first British sex comedy featuring a randy young man trying to get his end away with various girls, but it looks like Citizen Kane compared to the seedy 70’s films . Much better production values, cinematography, cast, wardrobe, screenplay…you name it ( plus a fab soundtrack by Traffic & The Spencer Davis Group.) It’s heartbreaking to see poor Barry Evans going through the motions years later in the Taxi Driver film, especially when the poor sod became one when the acting work dried up before his untimely death.

  6. Sidney Balmoral James

    February 28, 2021 at 10:07 am

    I have to admit that a friend of mine made me watch Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush many years ago for it’s unintentional comedy value although we probably both warmed to the film by the end. It has more than it’s fair share of clumsy moments (there’s a laughably long close-up shot of Barry Evans lowering his rear into a bath of either very hot or very cold water), Stevenage has never looked worse (even in A Clockwork Orange), and frankly the soundtrack is intrusive – that blaring title track! But, I can see how it was probably quite ground-breaking in its day, and it avoids the rubbish shenanigans of later British comedies. Also of course features Vanessa Howard, whose career also went down the toilet (and also coincidentally was in Michael Rimmer). Britain was no place to develop a film career in the 70s.

    • THX 1139

      February 28, 2021 at 2:08 pm

      Vanessa Howard deserved a much better career, she had the looks and the talent, she was smart and had a bit of an edge. So naturally she got stuck in a few horrors that went nowhere fast, then she lost interest. I was sad to see she died a few years ago.

      • Richardpd

        February 28, 2021 at 5:24 pm

        According to the IMDB she married someone in the film industry and lived in the USA for many years.

    • Droogie

      March 1, 2021 at 12:54 am

      The wonderful pretty actresses in Mulberry Bush are a delight and why it’s such a cool movie. Vanessa Howard! Judy Geeson! Adrienne Posta! Shelia White! Diane Keen! And Angela “ zoom zoom” Scoular who went on to be a Bond girl in OHMSS and marry Leslie Phillips. The poor girl who had the looks of a catwalk model had a troubled life and a horrible demise.

  7. Glenn Aylett

    February 28, 2021 at 11:49 am

    Only Britain could make these sort of films and they are typical of what your local fleapit would be showing on adult film days in 1976. Very tame compared with what you could see in Amsterdam at the same time, but still enough to upset Mary Whitehouse, which wasn’t always a bad thing.

    • Sidney Balmoral James

      February 28, 2021 at 2:39 pm

      I wonder if the slightly hysterical attitude in Britain towards porn at the time (National Festival of Light, Mary Whitehouse, Lord Longford’s inquiry etc.) which didn’t really exist in the UK (compared to some European countries) led to these films getting way more attention, and indeed, more of a reputation for sauciness, than they deserved?

  8. THX 1139

    February 28, 2021 at 2:04 pm

    Adventures of a Taxi Driver made more money in its year of release than Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver did in the UK.

  9. Glenn Aylett

    February 28, 2021 at 3:18 pm

    @ THX 1139, doesn’t surprise me, as in 1971 On The Buses almost became the most popular film of the year.

    • THX 1139

      February 28, 2021 at 5:33 pm

      Although there are probably bigger laughs in the Scorsese movie.

      • Droogie

        March 1, 2021 at 1:08 am

        @THX 1139. I know Scorsese is a big fan fan of British cinema and got wondering if he liked the Carry On Films too. There’s a scene in Convenience where Richard O’Callaghan takes Jackie Piper on a date to a dodgy sex education movie in the sad hope of getting her aroused. Taxi Driver a few years later has an identical bit with De Niro taking Cybil Shepherd to a similarly tacky film, only not played for laughs

        • THX 1139

          March 1, 2021 at 10:42 am

          Yes! But I’m not sure if that’s a tribute or just how hopeless 1970s guys believed they’d get their leg over in general.

  10. Glenn Aylett

    March 6, 2021 at 4:53 pm

    It was sad as at the start of the seventies, Britain was producing acclaimed films like Get Carter, A Clockwork Orange and historical epics like Cromwell, but by the mid seventies the film industry had become a parochial backwater. producing sitcom spin offs that meant nothing to foreign audiences and soft porn. Reasons for the decline are many( the supertax, hyper inflation, American shutting their British operations, companies like Hammer and Rank pulling out of film making), but it did seem by 1976, all we could produce were cheap films for the domestic market.

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