Color, 1976, 89 mins. 34 secs.
Directed by Stanley A. Long
Starring Barry Evans, Judy Geeson, Adrienne Posta, Diana Dors, Liz Fraser, Jane Hayden, Angela Scoular, Brian Wilde, Henry McGee
Indicator (Blu-ray) (UK R0 HD), Icon (DVD) (UK R2 PAL) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)

Color, 1977, 96 mins. 38 secs.
Directed by Stanley A. Long
Starring Christopher Neil, Suzy Kendall, Harry H. Corbett, Diana Dors, Fred Emney, Liz Fraser, Jon Pertwee
Indicator (Blu-ray) (UK R0 HD), Icon (DVD) (UK R2 PAL) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)

Color, 1978, 88 mins. 33 secs.
Directed by Stanley A. Long
Starring Christopher Neil, Arthur Mullard, Anna Quayle, Stephen Lewis, Prudence Drage, Christopher Biggins, Elaine Paige
Indicator (Blu-ray) (UK R0 HD), Icon (DVD) (UK R2 PAL) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)

The relaxation of censorship Adventures of a Taxi Driverstandards in Europe and the U.S. resulted in some Adventures of a Taxi Driverwild movie trends in the '70s, and few were weirder than the softcore sex comedies that seemed to particularly gain traction in the U.K. and West Germany. The English variant has a very distinctive flavor all its own, with recognizable stars like Suzy Kendall, Vincent Price, and Diana Dors rubbing shoulders with pinup models and aspiring actors who usually talked to the camera during their randy exploits. Along the way new unclad stars were briefly made including Mary Millington and Suzy Mandel, while two rival series managed to draw in particularly large audiences: the four Confessions films starring Robin Askwith and the three Adventures ones produced and directed by Stanley A. Long (working with Mark of the Devil's Michael Armstrong). A veteran of the exploitation scene starting with extensive work in silent nudie shorts and "glamour films," Long made his name with films like The Wife Swappers, Naughty!, and Bread that gave him the title "the king of British sexploitation." Particularly drawn to comedy, he would still try his hand at other genres including a late stab at horror with the much underrated anthology Screamtime (which is way overdue for a Blu-ray release someday).

Despised by critics but popular with viewers (especially once they hit home video and TV), Long's silly sex romps still exert a fascination today for their silly depictions of a society in transition and a forerunner to the American naughty hits that would come later like Porky's and American Pie. Now all three of the Adventures films have been collected on Blu-ray (their global debuts) from Indicator as Stanley Long's Adventures: A Seventies Sex Comedy Threesome, with extras providing a lot of context about how these odd birds came to be. First up is 1976's Adventures of a Taxi Driver, the only one starring the charismatic Barry Evans in a variation on his star-making Adventures of a Taxi Driverrole in 1968's Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush. Here he plays Joe, a working class cab driver in the heart of London who still lives at home with his nagging mom (Dors) and kleptomaniac little brother. Though he has a hot and cold relationship with his Adventures of a Taxi Driverbleach-blonde girlfriend, Carol (Posta), but tensions at home and on the road have him wandering in every sense thanks to his weird and sometimes sexy passengers. Eventually he thinks he might see a way out by shacking up with nightclub performer Nikki (Geeson) with a gigantic python in the bathtub, which still isn't enough to stop him from cruising around for "a nice bit o' crumpet."

Complete with an oft-repeated theme song by Posta (who also appeared with Geeson in To Sir, with Love), this is total time capsule material with tons of coverage of mid-'70s London in its prime. Obviously the attitudes here are far removed from what you'd see in a comedy today, but the cast is a lot of fun including no less than four veterans of Mulberry Bush back together here (Evans, Geeson, Posta, and On Her Majesty's Secret Service's Angela Scoular). The script isn't any deeper than your average dirty joke book, but the remnants of British kitchen sink cinema seen in Joe's home life are a fascinating contrast to the goofier bits like him stripping down with a pretty suicidal passenger or having to traipse luggage back and forth in the street while naked below the waist.

Shot very cheaply on 16mm (partially so the small camera could wedge inside a taxi), Adventures of a Tax Driver hit the VHS circuit in the U.S. and throughout Europe but has mostly stuck to the U.K. since then with a DVD from Icon in 2008 (later reissued from Odeon). That release Adventures of a Taxi Driverlooked great for the time and came with a lively commentary by Long, plus the trailer and a photo gallery. The Indicator features as good a transfer as you can get from the frequently on-the-fly shooting conditions, grainy but colorful enough and Adventures of a Taxi Driveraccurate to the source. As with the remaining titles, the LPCM English 1.0 mono track sounds fine and comes with optional, improved English SDH subtitles that come in handy with a lot of garbled dialogue. "The BEHP Interview with Stanley Long: Part One" from 1999 runs almost the entire film as well, with Long chatting with Denis Gifford and Emmanuel Yospa about his career, his nudie modeling background, and a lot about the technical improvisations he had to resort to with his budgets. Created for the British VHS market, The Best of the Adventures (1981, 86m25s) is a feature-length compilation of highlights from the trilogy hosted by journalist and broadcaster Peter Noble. In "Peter Sinclair’s Camera" (14m54s), the cinematographer recalls his clever work shooting the film inside a cab (which resulted in many people mistaking the vehicle for the real thing), his extensive work with Pete Walker starting with Man of Violence, and his successful switch to working on music videos and concerts in L.A. with the likes of Peter Gabriel. Also included are the very NSFW theatrical trailer, a gallery of promotional and publicity materials from Long’s archives (45 images), and 33 images of the complete dialogue script.

Next came Adventures of a Private Eye, with Evans (who Adventures of a Taxi Driverhad supposedly been a bit challenging during production) opting out of a sequel and being replaced by Adventures of a Taxi DriverChristopher Neil, a young musician who had previously popped up in supporting roles in The Sex Thief and Eskimo Nell. He would stick around for the third film in this series, too, after which he went back to focusing on music where he hit it big with Mike + the Mechanics and lifting Sheena Easton to stardom. He performs the theme songs for his two Adventures films, too, with the third one delivering some fun disco madness in particular.

Three months into his career as a trainee at a private detective agency, bed-hopping Bob West (Neil) realizes he has a plum opportunity when his boss (Doctor Who's Pertwee) heads off for four days. Feeling he's more than capable of taking on cases all on his own and dreaming of beautiful women, Bob is a thrilled when his first client turns out to be Doris (Torso's Kendall), who mistakes him for his boss. She needs help convincing the family of her octogenarian husband that she's a virgin despite the existence of compromising photos of her antics, Adventures of a Taxi Driverin order to inherit his considerable estate. Slapping on bad disguises, he chases down some leads like posing as an exterminator for Diana Dors and occasionally gets into some naked complications that never seem to lead to any actual sex. There's also a Adventures of a Taxi Drivermurder plot and lots of silliness on the way as he tries to find the blackmailer in time for his boss gets back in town.

Though Neil isn't as assured as Evans by a long shot, he holds his own here well enough through a variety of barely connected mishaps. There's also more plot than unusual here (presumably given the private eye angle), which almost gives it a '70s Inspector Clouseau vibe at times. The cast here is especially impressive for a cheap sex film with vets like Fred Emney and Fraser aboard, which gives it all a tad more class than moviegoers would have probably expected. There's even a belated stripper spoof of Cabaret for good measure, too, plus James Bond and Hammer vet Milton Reid-- and you won't believe the epilogue with Pertwee. Long available on DVD from Icon in the U.K., the Indicator disc is in line again here replicating the look of the film as seen Adventures of a Taxi Driverbefore in terms of color timing while upping the detail a bit, more obviously here since it was shot in 35mm. Adventures of a Taxi DriverRetained here from the DVD is the original Long commentary (probably the most dense of the three as he goes into the success of the series, the hiring of his new star, and more), plus the trailer. Long's BEHP interview continues here, and it's amazing how much info he continues to share about his experiences in the industry and his thoughts on distribution (which he hated doing himself), the difficulty of casting experienced actors willing to do "non-serious" films, and more. In "Stanley by Simon" (18m53s), Long’s biographer Simon Sheridan (author of Keeping the British End Up) offers a very affectionate tribute to his friend whom he got to know very well through a year's worth of research for the book, as well as facts about Long's career including his great award-winning trailer for The Brood and his distaste for most other British sexy cinema. Also included are an open matte Super 8 version (16m) for home viewing at the time, a gallery of 32 promotional and publicity items from Long's archives, and the the amusing Can You Keep It Up with This, That and the Other for a Week? (15m38s), a 2004 short film salute to British sex comedies by Jan Manthey complete with a VHS aesthetic, an inane theme song, a detour involving a mad scientist and his "sex ray," and bad jokes and wigs galore. The short also comes with audio commentary by Manthey and actors Diana Manthey and Vic Pratt, plus its own image Adventures of a Plumber's MateAdventures of a Plumber's Mategallery.

The third and final film, Adventures of a Plumber's Mate, brings back Neil as Sid, a plumber who's fallen five weeks late on his rent-- and even worse, he owes more to his violence-threatening bookie. In his scramble to raise money at record speed, he soon lands in a number of awkward and sometimes sexy situations including a bizarre precursor to Gerald's Game involving Prudence Drage and some handcuffs, a naked shower mishap involving some female tennis players, and a stolen toilet seat that's actually a big chunk of gold. As with the prior film there are also a few more nods to kink imagery than you might expect, especially a bizarre sequence (weirdly reminiscent of one in the same year's The Stud) at a big swingers' bash in swimming pool where participants get fished out of the water by gigantic rods that latch onto metal chest belts. It's definitely different! There's also a dumb gag involving a cat at the very beginning that looks really cruel, so hopefully they only subjected it to one take.

Obviously made on a lower budget than Private Eye, this one still packs in lots of silliness and skin with just the barest semblance of a plot darting our hapless Adventures of a Plumber's Mateprotagonist from one unlikely situation to another. Neil's performance is about the same as before, competent enough but not dynamic enough to make you wonder why he stayed behind the scenes after this. As with most of these films, it's a far cry from Adventures of a Plumber's Matetoday's attitudes about race, gender, and just about everything else, but it's so featherweight and harmless that nobody's likely to get really offended by anything.

The Indicator disc follows the same pattern as the others, looking very similar to the DVD in terms of color timing, framing, etc. while upping the detail quite visibly. Long's 2008 commentary gets ported over here along with the commentary, while the BEHP Long interview concludes here over the course of the entire film as he looks back at his later career including his desire to get out of the sex comedy realm, his passion project involving Robin Hood, and more. In what easily qualifies as the most entertaining extra in the entire set, "Dear Prudence" (14m2s), the very colorful and energetic Drage shares stories about her career starting off with a funny silent gig in A Clockwork Orange and going through her time as something of a lucky charm for Long in most of his '70s films, as well as her later singing career. You've never heard so many "pussy" puns in one place either. A Adventures of a Plumber's Mategallery of 24 images from Long's archives is also included, and the modern-day tributes continue Adventures of a Plumber's Matewith 2008's The Adventures of a Plumber in Outer Space (44m34s). Manthey's direct sequel continues after the sex ray events of the prior short, with our hapless lad now dealing with a larger alien contingent that puts him in a variety of ridiculous comic situations with lots of implied naughtiness (but no nudity). This one also comes with a commentary by the same trio and its own image gallery. The limited edition set also comes with a double-sided poster and an 80-page booklet featuring with a new essay by Sheridan, archival interviews with Long and Neil, a letter from the producers protesting the series' treatment by the press, newspaper articles, a look at the three films’ movie tie-in novels, sample critical reactions, Manthey on his short films, and film credits.


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Reviewed on April 17, 2022.