Sunday, 13 December 2009

Sue Bond: On the Buses

Whatever else can be said about Sue Bond, it does take good acting to convincingly look like you want to suck face with Jack from On the Buses!!!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Harrison Marks’ “Bistro Bordello (1972)” resurfaces

Hot on the heels of Dolly Mixture, another of George Harrison Marks’ shorts from the early seventies, Bistro Bordello, has resurfaced from the pornographic wilderness in its German version “Zum Knutschkeller”. As with Dolly Mixture and many other of Marks’ Maximus era titles, Bistro Bordello was shot in a soft core version for the UK, then an explicit hardcore version to satisfy the overseas market, its the latter, dirtier second helping of Bistro Bordello that has turned up via the internet, and whose German title roughly translates into English as “Into the Kissing Cellar”, though personally I think Bistro Bordello is the more catchier title.

Shot in early 1972, Bistro Bordello concerns an innocuous British couple dining out at a French Bistro, and somehow remaining oblivious to the fact that the other customers are indulging in an orgy around them, which isn’t an easy task given that the other people going at it on the tables. As you might expect from an early 1970s Marks production there are some familiar faces among the naked bistro ravers, Howard “Vanderhorn” Nelson plays one half of the British couple, while Marks himself turns up as the Bistro’s head waiter, sporting the same buck teeth and wig disguise that also got an airing in The 9 Ages of Nakedness and later Come Play With Me. In what was clearly one of his favourite guises (one he was still donning for Kane photoshoots in the 1990s), Marks resembles a baggy pants, Victorian music hall act who has inadvertently traveled through time and ended up on the set of a 1970s blue movie. Also in the cast is a young Ava Cadell, now a world famous sexologist and life style guru, captured here at the outset of her acting/modeling career. As Ava is also a black belt in karate and is married to a lawyer, its worth emphasizing, quite heavily, that despite her appearing in the overseas version of Bistro Bordello there is no actual evidence of her performing hardcore in the film, and the film only utilizes her in a softcore capacity, which is presumably why she is given less screen time than the other couples, and Marks mostly keeps her in the background.

Amidst all the sexual gymnastics and hardcore close-ups Marks did however find the time to indulge in his usual penchant for mixing pornography with old time comedy, not just with the silent movie type mugging he gets up to in his cameo, but with sight gags like Vanderhorn leaving the bistro without his trousers on, and a table collapsing while two people screw on it, which is rewound and repeated in the film several times over for comedic effect.

Marks thought highly of Bistro Bordello, and a year later was proclaiming it the best thing he’d ever done on film, as well as citing an unlikely influence. “Going back a long way, I had seen some films made by that great French director Rene Clair, and in one of his films the lead actor had owned a Bistro” he told Verve magazine in 1973 “when I saw the rushes I knew that I had unconsciously created this Bistro with its 1930 atmosphere.” While its unclear which Rene Clair film Marks was trying to recreate here, and its unlikely that Clair’s original version had an orgy in it, Marks’ set designer Tony Roberts did do a fantastic job of transforming Marks’ Farringdon studio into a 1930s French Bistro. Only the longhaired, early 70s look of the male actors, and the German oomph pah-pah music the foreign distributor dubbed on, work against Marks’ beyond the call of duty attempts at evoking a saucy, French oh-la-la atmosphere. Tony Roberts’ eye for detail even went as far as importing several crates of wine to the set, which predictably started to disappear once the camera started rolling. “God knows how much booze they (the cast and crew) drank” Marks later complained, though going by his own unorthodox appearance in the film, it doesn’t seem unfair to suggest that The Great Marko polished off a few of the bottles himself.

Bistro Bordello also marked the start of the porn career of actor “Short Jack Gold”, who’d go on to appear in many of Marks’ 8mm productions throughout the seventies. For Mr. Gold, Bistro Bordello was sometime of a baptism of fire into the drunken, pornographic world of Harrison Marks. “I had seen pictures of him in some of the Kamera magazines I had squirreled away in my teenage home, so I knew exactly who he was” the porn actor recalled earlier this year “what I had not counted on was the fact that there was so much hanging around, waiting for different scenes to be shot, or delays as George changed the film in the camera. But most of all, what I had not anticipated, nor remotely thought about, was that when George yelled "Action" the male model, working with one or two gorgeous lingerie draped female partners, was expected to achieve an instant erection, and proceed to coitus pretty dammed promptly. Sounds easy doesn’t it! Mark my words. It isn’t. There were two or three other guys on the shoot. Some of them "veterans" of the embryonic London porn scene, but not up to it, if you pardon the pun. A situation of such unnatural eroticism, coupled with the hanging around and delays, made grown men droop. Not helped by the copious amounts of wine available on the set, which George and his crew took full advantage of. It was chaos!..........…”

Friday, 13 November 2009

Vampyres/Wildcats of St.Trinans CD release

Following on from their CD release of James Kenelm Clarke’s scores for his Fiona Richmond films, Vocalion are set to release a CD of Clarke’s scores for Jose Larraz’s horror classic Vampyres (1974) and Frank Launder’s rather less well regarded The Wildcats of St. Trinian’s (1980). Bringing together -on CD at least- the exploits of blood sucking bi-sexual vampires and overaged naughty schoolgirls

Publicity Blurb:

This Vocalion release contains the first ever commercial issue of James Clarke’s scores for the films ‘The Wildcats of St. Trinian’s’ (1980) and ‘Vampyres’ (1974). Both soundtracks blend funk and jazz with orchestral scoring and feature the talents of many of Britain’s leading session musicians of the 1970s, including Alan Parker (guitar), Les Hurdle and Frank Clarke (bass guitar), Harold Fisher and Chris Karan (drums), John Taylor and Alan Hawkshaw (keyboards) plus the musical direction of Frank Barber (‘Wildcats’) and Syd Dale (‘Vampyres’). Highlights from the ‘Wildcats’ score include the sophisticated, Fender Rhodes led disco-funk of Girls’ Disco, the easy listening grooves of Swimming Sequence, the cheeky charm of Harry’s Strut (Flash Harry) and Work Apace, the latter an absolutely gorgeous reworking of Malcolm Arnold’s St. Trinian’s School Song. 1974’s ‘Vampyres’ is probably best described as ‘erotic horror’, a torrid tale of two modern-day bisexual female vampires whose bloodlust is matched only by their voracious sexual appetite. James Clarke’s score evokes an atmosphere of unease, menace and dark, sexual tension, perfectly in keeping with the film itself. These qualities are particularly in evidence in Main Titles, blending driving rhythms with Alan Parker’s horrific ‘fuzz’ guitar, and The Legend of the House and The Big Woodland, each of which feature, in parts, intimate harmonies tinged with a sense of foreboding. Stalking is in the best tradition of horror movie music, opening with a ‘stab’ chord and punctuated throughout by the razor-sharp sound of Alan Parker’s ‘fuzz’ guitar, ominous timpani rolls and creepy, tremulando strings. Bisexual female vampires and their prey have never been better depicted in music! The accompanying booklet contains insightful liner notes written by James Clarke and Oliver Lomax, plus rare film stills and original film poster artwork. Remastered from the original analogue stereo tapes. First time on CD.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Suzy Mandel’s 1977 Spotlight Entry.

Suzy’s 1977 entry in Spotlight. Obviously don’t bother ringing the number now though, its 32 years out of date!!!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

West End Jungle repeat

Just a quick heads up that there is a repeat airing of West End Jungle, this Friday Night/Saturday Morning on BBC4 (2:00am-2:50am)

Monday, 26 October 2009

Cliff Twemlow Book Write-Up

Received my copy of the Cliff Twemlow book last Thursday (not even a postal strike it seems can stop Cliff), so I’d imagine pre-orders are being sent out this week.
The authors have done a tremendous job of locating Cliff’s key collaborators for the book, as well as all of Cliff’s films, ranging from the ones that had Pre-Cert video releases (GBH, Tuxedo Warrior) to rarer, seeming unreleased ones like Target Eve Island and The Ibiza Connection, to near impossible to locate items such as 1986’s Harrising Moments, an aborted TV comedy vehicle for GBH supporting player Jerry Harris, which sounds like the Twemlow equivalent of Andy Milligan’s Red Rooster and features Twemlow regular Steve Powell in drag, and Cliff himself in a nappy. More intriguing is mention of 1988’s Moonstalker a.k.a. Predator, which I’d only heard of by title before, but here is given the full synopsis/write up treatment which reveals it to be Cliff’s take on “Beast of Exmoor” story, seemingly mixed in with elements of An American Werewolf in London.

The book argues a good case for Twemlow being an unacknowledged low-budget maverick, who against considerable odds, such as the fact that the British film industry was going down the pan at the time, managed to set up his own B-movie universe in 1980s Manchester, channeling all his creative and physical energy into making film after film that would see him and his collaborators shoot in locations as diverse as politically shaky 1980s Grenada to an off-season scout camp in Worsley. The book’s revelation that Twemlow saw little profits from his later films, in fact he seems to have lost money on a few of them, makes his dedication even more impressive, and its a testament to his character that his reparatory company came back for film after film, despite some of them having moved on to bigger things. Not to mention the fact that -judging by what the book has to say- a few cuts and bruises were guaranteed on a Cliff Twemlow set. The casting of a panther for The Eye of Satan, predictably resulted in some chaos on set, while the unfortunate actor playing the alien in Firestar: First Contact was the subject of a (literally) ball-busting accident.

(Japanese VHS release of Firestar:First Contact)

Access to Twemlow’s brother and son also allows the authors to expand on Cliff’s own 1980 autobiography The Tuxedo Warrior, as well as contradict it, a peculiar discovery made during the writing of the book is that while most celebrities choose to take a year or two off their age, Twemlow actually added five years to his life for his autobiography, a secret he kept up in his personal life, to the degree that even his gravestone bears an incorrect date of birth. Previously thought to have been in this late fifties/early sixties at the time of his death, the book reveals Twemlow was only 55 when he died. His early death, while seemingly unavoidable due to his lifestyle, seems even more tragic given several quotes suggest him to have been something of a visionary, accurately predicting back in the 1990s that films would be watched on and made for computers in the future, how sad then that his early death prevented him from bringing his particular brand of filmmaking into the internet age.

The book isn’t able to clear up the mystery over the murky release history of the Twemlow films, with hard to confirm or deny rumours that the films were the subject of overseas video releases and TV broadcasts, but still manages to bring some new nuggets of information to the table. I’d never heard before for instance, of the different versions of Twemlow’s final film, the rape/revenge shocker Bad Weekend, nor the three alternative versions of Tuxedo Warrior released on UK video in the 1980s.

With many of the films discussed still obscure and tricky to track down (hence the “Lost World of”) its particularly satisfying to see Cliff and his films getting the full length book treatment, unpretentious, entertaining and clearly a labour of love, the book is certainly in the spirit of Cliff’s films, and despite revealing his real age, something you suspect the great man would heartily approve of.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Cliff Twemlow - book launch and film screening

To tie-in with the publication of “The Lost World of Cliff Twemlow”, there will be a special launch party for the book this November as part of the Salford Film Festival, as well as a screening of one of Cliff’s films (details TBC.)

The Launch/screening takes place at 2pm on Sunday 22nd of November, at The King’s Arms on Bloom Street in Salford. The launch is open to all and reservations to attend can be made by emailing:

See this site for more information about the book launch, and here for details about the book
They also have some Cliff badges for sale!!!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Askwith in Benidorm

According to this weeks TV Times, “The Ask” has a role in the third series of ITV’s Benidorm

“...Benidorm continues to attract big stars, with Tim Healy, Keith Barron, Sheridan Smith and Seventies icon Robin Askwith all making guest appearances in this series, and Una Stubbs playing hen-pecked Martin’s mum”

Ok, so its likely to be just a one episode role, but c’mon its a step up from appearing in Richard Driscoll films.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

3 More By Harrison Marks

Reviews of three more of Harrison Marks’ short films, recently transferred from 8mm to DVD by yours truly….

The Casting Couch (1970)

The Casting Couch is one of the earliest of Marks’ Maximus productions, which were advertised in Continental Film Review magazine from October 1969, and throughout 1970. The Casting Couch sees Marks’ skinny, anorexic looking male lead from “The Ecstasy of Oral Love” playing a randy photographer who when not using his studio as a love nest is whisking his models away for more of the same at “Ye Olde Halfway Inn”. In the twist ending the photographer is shocked to spot one of his earlier conquests checking into the Halfway Inn for a dirty weekend of her own, with an old codger for company (played in an exaggerated fashion by a young actor wearing a beard and using a cane.) The early Maximus productions are somewhat unique among Marks’ films for having settings and characters reappear from film to film, with Ye Olde Halfway Inn used for more malarkey in Marks’ 8mm film Halfway Inn (starring The Collinson Twins), and the fake old codger and his dolly bird companion making bare-assed return appearances in “Cue for Two” which, in case you were wondering, centers around a nude snooker game.

With full disclosure from the female cast, simulated sex and blowjobs, The Casting Couch illustrates just how far Marks was pushing the boundaries, compared to the simple striptease films he was making a few years earlier, and sees GHM actively playing up the sort of casting couch scenarios he had tried to distance himself from in the mid-sixties. The Maximus adverts in Continental Film Review abruptly ended in October 1970, when Marks got in trouble with the law and was charged with sending obscene materials through the post resulting in an obscenity trial in 1971.

Santa’s Coming (197?)

Undaunted by having his collar felt over his new type of production, Marks continued to turn out Maximus films into the 70s, including this X-rated yuletide story, made circa 1974. Santa’s Coming concerns a lonely housewife, whose Christmas presents from her husband all turn out to be sex aids, including a vibrator and -in a self-referencing touch- a copy of Marks’ 1967 biography “The Naked Truth About Harrison Marks”. Obviously unimpressed by her buzzing new friend and Marks collection of tall tales, she retires to the bedroom to bounce about on her bed in frustration, unaware that her home is being broken into by a burglar (Short Jack Gold), who is conspicuously dressed as Santa Claus!! As you might expect, when this immoral Santa spots a nude woman in bed, thoughts of ransacking the place are all cast aside, as are his clothes and fake beard. In a twist straight out of a Confessions or Adventures film, her husband arrives home drunk, forcing Short Jack Gold to hide under the bed until hubby passes out, before making his escape through the window, minus the loot, but in good enough sprits to offer a wink and a thumbs up to the audience, worthy of any Robin Askwith or Barry Evans character.

Randy Toole - In Person (197?)

From the groovy early 70s, “Randy Toole -in Person” is Marks’ spin on the groupie phenomenon, which had also provided material for the Derek Ford/Stanley Long team with Groupie Girl, and Lindsay Shonteff with Permissive. Randy Toole, played by an actor recognizable from the Clyda Rosen loop “Femmes Cherchent Bon-Baiseurs”, is a famous rock star who, so a newspaper headline tells us, has just received an ovation at the London palladium, and is now hiding out at his townhouse and working on his new album. While his entourage try to keep Randy’s adoring fan base- all two of them- at bay, a pair of groupies manage to break into Randy’s house, while one gets collared in the kitchen by Randy’s West Indian assistant and has to make do with shagging him on the kitchen floor, and other groupie manages to meet her pop idol and ends up receiving more than just his John Hancock!!

In the films comedy punch line the two groupies decide to immortalize the occasion by taking a nude snapshot of a passed out Randy and his assistant, and then send it to a tabloid who publishes it on their cover the next day with the headline “Randy Toole appears naked in the West End”.

Randy Toole in Person, was also filmed in a hardcore version for the German market called “Autograph Hunter”, with a couple of cast changes, including a different Randy Toole in the lead, and Clyda Rosen cast as one of the Groupies. Present in both versions is ex-bodybuilder, Marks regular and current day reported missing person, Howard “Vanderhorn” Nelson, in a non-sex role as Randy’s Roadie. A role Howard plays behind dark glasses in the softcore version, and required a further blond wig to play the part again in the hard version, since generally you find the more explicit the film, the more elaborate Vanderhorn’s disguises become, but as per usual The Horn’s “built like a brick shithouse” physique tends to give the game away.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Suzy Mandel on Mary Millington : 30 years later

August 19th marked the 30th anniversary of Mary Millington’s death in 1979, I was away on the day, and was first made aware of the significance of the date in a message from Millington biographer Simon Sheridan when I returned. Simon also informed former actress and Millington co-star Suzy Mandel about the date, and since the national press seems to have completely ignored the anniversary of Mary’s passing, Suzy suggested I should write something to commemorate the date, which would also give Suzy the chance to share a few thoughts about her co-star with Mary’s many fans.

Suzy first met Mary at the beginning of Mary’s career as a top billed film star on the set of Harrison Marks’ Come Play With Me in late 1976 “She was a pretty little creature” Suzy remembers “Very, Very, Sweet.” Although they were from slightly different backgrounds -Mary was essentially a top shelf model being flung in the deep end acting wise, while Suzy was a trained, Aida Foster graduate and as a result was entrusted with far more dialogue than her co-star- the two films they made together would bond their careers together forever, with the pair of them sharing space on screen and as Tom Chantrell drawings on the film’s posters, while Come Play With Me would propel Mary and Suzy into the record books when it went on to become the most profitable and longest running British film in history, playing at the Moulin Cinema in Great Windmill Street from 1977 to 1981. Suzy once snuck in to the Moulin to check out the film, giving a member of the raincoat brigade the surprise of his life when watching the film he suddenly saw one of the film’s “nurses” sitting in the audience, which provoked a stunned reaction of “its you!!!”.
Suzy remembers Harrison Marks as “very funny, very charming”, but despite Marks’ music hall meets pornography under the influence of a bottle of scotch personality being all over the film, its hard to argue with her claims that Mary’s popularity and the David Sullivan publicity machine are what made Come Play With Me a success rather than the film itself “you get to the end of the film and you think ‘what was that all about’”.

As well as the films, Suzy also accompanied Mary on a photoshoot at 10 Downing Street, which has become the stuff of legend, due to Millington, while posing for an innocuous picture with a policeman outside Number Ten, deciding to unzip her top, exposing her breasts for the photograph, much to the surprise of Whitehouse photographer George Richardson (who took the picture anyway) and the policeman in question (who tried to confiscate the reel of film). According to Simon Sheridan’s biography of Millington :“For this stunt Mary was conditionally discharged and bound over to keep the peace”.

Suzy last saw Mary around April 1979, when in a publicity stunt both of them were photographed in lingerie at the top of the Moulin Cinema for the second anniversary of Come Play With Me’s long engagement at the Cinema, this would be one of Mary Millington’s final public appearances, if not the last. On the morning of August 19th 1979, Mary was found dead in bed by her husband having consumed a lethal combination of alcohol and paracetamol, “I did think of her that day” remembers Suzy “a dreadful thing to do to yourself… I was very saddened”.

Suzy left Britain in 1979, starting a new life for herself in America, and resuming her acting career before eventually moving behind the scenes as a film producer, but although Suzy is now -quite literally- a million miles away from her former sex comedy career, her thoughts return to her Come Play With Me co-star at this time “its terrible that she is no longer around”. According to Simon Sheridan, Mary’s favourite group were The Bee Gees and her favourite drink Campari and Lemonade, so why not give one of the Gibb Brothers’ LPs a spin and raise a glass to Mary. Suzy, for one, remembers her with great fondness, and hopes her reminisces here will do their bit to keep Mary’s memory alive “after all” says Suzy “if things were different, I’m sure she’d do the same for me…bless her heart”.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Harrison Marks Wos Ere

Harrison Marks’ 4 Gerrard Street Studio in the late 1950s…

And from Cheesecake Magazines to Chinese Hairdos, the building as it stands today, a hairdressers catering to London’s Chinese community (Gerrard Street now being the heart of London’s Chinatown district)

According to legend, in the fifties the building not only housed Marks and Pamela Green’s operation, but was home to a “near-beer” club in the basement which was a regular battleground between rival London gangs, and as a result fist and bottle fights were the order of the day, and blood was spilt on a nightly basis, while the attic was occupied by a veteran prostitute where bodily fluids of a different kind were no doubt spilt on a nightly basis as well.

Monday, 24 August 2009

George and Pam : The Early Years

Some very early Harrison Marks pictures of a barely recognizable Pamela Green and some other, unknown models, from October 1956, taken during a 1955-56 period when the Marks/Green team were supplying photos to girlie magazines, before earning enough cash to start up their own ‘Kamera’ magazine. As the Ad (also from October 56) shows, they were already taking the first steps to going it alone by selling slides and a booklet through their Gerrard Street Studio.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Review: Dolly Mixture (Harrison Marks, 1973)

I first became aware of this vintage slice of Harrison Marks directed smut several years ago after reading a brief account of the film by its lead actor -who goes by the internet pseudonym of “Short Jack Gold”- which immediately caught my attention with his description of the film’s outlandish, horror themed, plot and some of the saucy goings-on that happened on set (more about that later on), all of which convinced me that Dolly Mixture must be something quite special in the Harrison Marks pantheon.

Dolly Mixture hails from Marks’ years in the wilderness, in-between directing the feature films The Nine Ages of Nakedness in 1969 and Come Play With Me in 1976. Marks made ends meet during this, what might be called his “blue” period, by shooting short sex films for the 8mm market, that were initially available through his Maximus Film Club company. Like many of the Maximus shorts, Dolly Mixture was filmed in two different versions, a full colour hardcore version for the overseas market, and -shot a week later- a black and white softcore version for the British market. The colour hardcore version, known in Germany as Vor Geilheit Kochen, which I’m lead to believe, roughly translates as “Boiling from Hornyness”, is by far the easiest of the two versions to see, having surfaced in Australia, and then been widely bootlegged on DVD and over the internet. The soft version, on the other hand, hadn’t been seen since its release on the now antiquated 8mm format in the 1970s, and was considered something of a “lost” film. So when an 8mm copy surfaced about a year ago, I immediately snatched it up, despite not really having a clue what I was going to do with it, and having no means of actually watching it, my family’s 8mm projector having melodramatically burst into flames when we last tried to get it to work, more than a decade ago.

The initial plan was to send it to my silent, partner-in-crime in this scheme and have him run it on his 8mm projector and film the image with a camcorder, an el cheapo way of doing it, but after he expressed concerns about his projector’s ability to work, and not wishing to risk destroying the film and possibly sending him to the burns department, we knocked that idea on the head in favour of Plan B; having the film professionally transferred to DVD. The search was then on to find a company that would be prepared to turn a blind eye to transferring “adults only” material, as luck would have it a fellow collector had recently used an internet based company to have the Harrison Marks/Mary Millington film “Sex is My Business” transferred from Super 8mm to DVD, so as they clearly didn’t have a problem with that kind of thing we went with the same company on Dolly Mixture. Given that their business seems to mostly involve the tedious task of transferring people’s moldy old holiday films to DVD, arguably they should have paid us for giving them something far more titillating to transfer, but there you go.

Short Jack Gold first met Harrison Marks in January 1972, after answering an advert Marks had placed in Time Out Magazine. His initial interview would prove a memorable introduction into the World of Harrison Marks, with Short Jack Gold turning up at Marks’ studio in Faulkner`s Alley just off Cowcross St in Farringdon, and being greeted by the sight of two gigging, mini skirted dolly birds leaving Marks’ studio, followed by the great man himself drunkenly calling after them "lovely darlings.. see you next week". Marks cited too much competition in the soft core/ glamour photography realm as the reason he was now making more explicit material, and preferred to shoot his clandestine hardcore films in his studio, which at that moment was being transformed into a French Bistro set by Tony Roberts, who had been Marks’ set designer since the late 1950s. On the set of his first Marks film -entitled “Bistro Bordello”- Short Jack Gold soon encountered the often mundane reality of porno filmmaking with lots of doing nothing moments, waiting around for Marks to reload the film and set up the next scene, mixed in with the immediate pressure on the male actors to get it up and go into sex the moment Marks yelled for “action”. Several of the other actors, despite being veterans of London’s insular hardcore scene, were having problems maintaining their erections, and just to add to the chaos Roberts’ set also included several crates of wine which started to disappear as the shoot went on, “god knows how much booze they (the crew) drank” Marks later recalled, although in all likelyhood he probably polished off a few bottles himself.

Bistro Bordello, sometimes referred to as “A Night at the Bistro Bordello”, evolved around an innocuous British couple -one half of which was played by Marks’ bodybuilder friend Howard “Vanderhorn” Nelson - dining out at a French Bistro, and somehow remaining unaware that the other customers are indulging in a 15 person orgy around them. Present in the female cast were the two dolly birds Short Jack Gold had encountered leaving Marks studio, as well as a shapely Hungarian model who is now a world famous sexologist. Marks had many tall tales to tell about the making of Bistro Bordello including a story about him hiring a professional accordionist to sit around the set and play music to get the cast in the mood, which, funny as it sounds is all nonsense, since Short Jack Gold -who appeared in both hard and soft versions of that film- remembers the cast were simply fucking to a backing tape. Still Marks was very proud of Bistro Bordello, especially his attempts at evoking a 1930s period setting, claiming “when I saw the rushes, I thought, fucking hell, this looks like it was shot in 1938” and went on to compare the film to the works of Rene Clair. The behind-the-scenes snapshot Short Jack Gold provided me with, which depicts Marks shooting a threesome with his Bolex camera and Mr. Gold with his head between a woman’s legs, doesn’t exactly scream a Rene Clair influence to me, but maybe I should reserve judgment till if/when the film resurfaces.

A year later Short Jack Gold was back reporting for stud duty for Dolly Mixture (which was shot in 73, but is copyrighted 1974). Despite only being required to appear in the soft version of the film, Dolly Mixture would prove to be equally as wild as his Bistro Bordello experience, thanks to the film’s frankly bonkers, Frankenstein inspired plot, and more importantly the exploits of his co-star, the legendary Clyda Rosen, a diminutive, Israeli model who boasted a super-sized chest, and downstairs what was once described as a “very large and lengthy tummy hair trail”. At the time of filming Dolly Mixture, Clyda was just starting to make waves in the British porn scene, appearing as a topless cover girl for magazines like Fiesta and 264 Juicy Jugs as well as starring in several under the counter productions.

Dolly Mixture is mainly set in a Mad Professor’s Laboratory and opens with his longhaired, hunchbacked assistant stumbling about the Lab. Had Marks shot the film with sound, chances are this character would have been called ‘Igor’. There are cutaways to such “every mad professor should have one” items such as a beating heart in a tank and a crawling, severed hand trapped in a glass jar, as well as numerous toy dolls scattered about the laboratory. Toying with the dolls, the Hunchback soon finds something far more interesting to play with in the form of the Professor’s nude female creation (Clyda), who the Prof has put together from various female body parts, hence “Dolly Mixture”. Groping her breasts while making imbecilic faces of delight, the Hunchback is quickly interrupted by the Professor himself, who shoos the horny halfwit away. It seems the professor shares the Hunchback’s odd fixation with dolls and throughout the film is seen carrying a female doll dressed as a bride who he holds one-way conversations with, while out in the hallway the Hunchback throws a tantrum and peeks through the keyhole. Enter Short Jack Gold playing an Insurance Investigator who has turned up to price the Professor’s belongings. Given the guided tour of the place Short Jack is startled -and who wouldn’t be- by the nude, large chested Israeli lady lying lifeless in the middle of the Professor’s lab. While the Insurance Investigator is distracted, the naughty professor switches on his sex-ray machine, which brings to life Ms. Rosen, who is immediately all over the -not entirely resistant- insurance investigator, pulling off his clothes and dragging him to the floor for some frenzied, multi-positioned sex.

As well as his sex ray machine, it seems the Professor also has some weird power over his dolls, who are shown bonking away in positions that match up to that of their human counterparts. If Clyda and Short Jack Gold seem to be enjoying themselves a little too much during these scenes there is good reason, as Mr. Gold explains “halfway through our shoot, Clyda got a bit carried away and allowed full sex. She was that hot!". While the pair of them go at it on the laboratory floor, the two actors playing the Hunchback and the Professor seem to be in competition with each other over who can deliver the more hammy performance, with the Professor ranting on to his doll companion and the Hunchback rolling his eyes, playing with Clyda’s hair, and doing what in less politically correct times used to be referred to as “spazzing”. All this not so simulated sex and overacting eventually proves to be too much for the sex ray machine which ends up exploding, causing Clyda and Short Jack Gold to flee, and killing the Professor in the process. After the dust has settled, the film’s surprisingly eerie final shot reveals the bride doll has taken on human characteristics while the dead Professor now has the doll’s features, and sports Pierrot-like make-up. What does it all mean? only Harrison Marks himself knew for sure.

Both Clyda and Tony Roberts really go beyond the call of duty in Dolly Mixture, with Clyda delivering a super sexy turn, displaying the sort of enthusiasm that shows why Ms. Rosen is very, very fondly remembered by her male co-stars. Tony Roberts -a real unsung hero in Marks’ story - also knocked up a sensational set for the film, full of bubbling over test tubes, posters of anatomical drawings, bottles full of potions, human skulls and body parts that really add horror film flavor to the proceedings. Marks may have been known to complain that Roberts’ sets "cost a bleedin packet", but Dolly Mixture stands as a fully realized amalgamation of British horror film and dirty movie because of them. Dolly Mixture also offers a peak at some of the porn stars and oddballs that formed Marks’ acting repertory company in the 1970s. Both Clyda and Short Jack Gold are at the outset of their long careers in porn here, with many more appearances in Marks’ productions to follow that would see Mr. Gold going on to occupy the same cinematic territory in Marks’ under the counter productions as Robin Askwith and Christopher Neil did in soft core comedies. The chap who plays the Hunchback was also something of a regular in Marks’ films -albeit in non-balling roles- having played one of the hippies in Marks’ hardcore customs office farce “Die Lollos” and part of the rock band in the groupie themed “Autograph Hunter”. In real life he was actually the boyfriend of one of Marks’ models, and while she must have given him the go-ahead to drool over and fondle Clyda’s boobs in the softcore version of Dolly Mixture, he required a body double for his character’s more explicit involvement in the hardcore version. Leaving his body double the less than enviable task of having his lower torso, including his dick, covered in green make-up to match up with the Hunchback’s back from the dead complication. The two different actors who play the Professor in the soft and hard versions of the film are both quite a sight as well, the actor in the hard version fits the ID of your generic horror movie crazy old codger down to a tee, sporting a disheveled appearance, unkempt beard and a look of genuine madness in his bleary, bloodshot eyes, for the soft version the role was played by a much younger, and noticeably more agile actor, hidden under a wig, a fake beard and heavy, ghost face make-up, resembling Alan Badel in The Stranger Left No Card. Aside from Clyda, Dolly Mixture also boasts a surprise appearance from another diminutive, furry, much loved character, in the form of Paddington Bear, or rather a doll of Paddington Bear, who makes his unlikely XXX debut here as part of the Hunchback’s extensive doll collection. At one point Paddington is even seen posed in the background of the sex scenes, looking on at Clyda, almost disapprovingly.

While its hard to take Dolly Mixture as anything other than silly, horny fun acted out for your average 1970s 8mm film enthusiast’ s delight, given Marks’ frosty relationship with the Taxman, or as he referred to them “the Tax Bastards”, fuelled even more by his 1970 bankruptcy, its tempting to view the Professor getting one over on the Insurance Investigator by zapping him with the sex ray machine, as Marks’ revenge fantasy against such nosy, paperwork obsessed types. Although whether being stripped bare and shagged senseless by Frank-en-Clyda is really a “punishment” is arguable. At times the goateed mad professor even looks like a horror film caricature of Marks himself, running about his laboratory with the power to have people strip off their clothes and act out any wild, impromptu sex scene at his demand. A comic take on Marks’ position in life and his vendetta against the taxmen then? or just an excuse to film Clyda’s enormous boobs bouncing around a Mad Prof’s lab? Either way Dolly Mixture and its Maximus kin kept its director in booze and cigarettes during a rough period.

By the mid-Seventies Marks had managed to find some regular employment providing photoshoots for David Sullivan’s top shelf magazines, an association that led to Marks being given the chance to direct Come Play With Me, as well as the opportunity to sell the rights to many of his 8mm productions - including Bistro Bordello, Sex is My Business and Santa’s Coming- to Sullivan, who subsequently advertised them for sale through his magazines. Dolly Mixture ended up in a Sullivan Advert along with several other Marks 8mm films featuring top-heavy actresses, billed collectively as “Harrison Marks Home Movies with Whopper Stars” (‘these films have been specially selected to appeal to the man who delights in the big ones’ claimed Sullivan’s spiel). Exactly who owns the rights to Dolly Mixture these days seems something of a mystery, its not one of only a handful of Maximus productions held by his estate “George Harrison Marks Enterprises LTD”. A question mark also hangs over whether Sullivan kept hold of the rights to these films as well, given that he never did anything with these acquisitions after the 8mm market gave way to the video era. The absence of any footage from, or even a mention of, the Mary Millington starring “Sex is My Business” in Sullivan’s numerous print and film tributes to her in the early 1980s, would seem to strongly suggest he no longer held the rights to these 8mm films by then, since Sullivan was actively recycling just about every picture or scrap of film he had of Mary Millington at that point.

So with these films seemingly in unloved and forgotten limbo, and with no equivalent of Something Weird Video or Alpha Blue Archives existing in the UK, it seems its left to the die-hard aficionados to personally save the likes of Sex is My Business and Dolly Mixture from the jaws of extinction and get them known about again, and when the opportunely came my way to preserve a bit of the dirty film legacy of a sweary, heavy drinking, glamour photographer turned pornographer, and his horny, hairy, hebraic honey of a star, well, how could I resist a challenge like that???

Friday, 7 August 2009

House of Whipcord US Pressbook

American Pressbook for Pete Walker's House of Whipcord (1974) featuring Ad Mats for the film, press stories (mostly focusing on Penny Irving) and advice to cinema owners on how to promote the film, which includes staging bullwhip demonstrations and mock hangings where “placards should be mounted with a warning to streakers or others who may appear nude in public that they might end up like the girl in House of Whipcord ”…. they sure knew how to sell a film in those days!!!

Monday, 27 July 2009

Review: It Could Happen To You (Stanley Long, 1975)

It Could Happen To You has to be one of Stanley Long’s most unusual productions, and in a career made up of films featuring randy taxi drivers, killer gnomes, wife swappers and moth women, that is saying something. The result of Long being asked to direct a film aimed at teenagers and warning of the dangers of post-pill, pre-AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, it seems an odd bit of casting for Long to helm such a project, given that he was about to embark on his “Adventures of” series, whose heroes’ amorous antics regularly brought them into contact with angry husbands but whose plots politely sidetracked the touchy subject of VD.

The distributor who pitched this idea to Long, Michael L Green of Variety Films, seems an equally unlikely candidate for someone concerned with the sexual health of the nation’s youth, given that Variety were best known for distributing the likes of Flesh Gordon in the UK, as well as Derek Ford’s homegrown sex film output. Long ultimately made good on his side of the deal, making a genuine, forward thinking, sex education film that avoids the finger waving moralizing and hysterics that now makes the film’s clapdrama forefathers like Damaged Goods (1937) and Sex Madness (1928) high camp viewing. Long even managed to rope in a real life venereal disease specialist, Dr Robert Catterall of Middlesex Hospital, to provide onscreen narration and credibility to the production. Variety, on the other hand, eventually showed their true colours, and after a few play dates under its original title quickly reissued the film under the new title “Intimate Teenage Secrets” complete with a misleading X certificate and a sexploitation themed ad campaign. A decision that reportedly angered Long, but if nothing else validates the plot of his previous film, 1974’s Eskimo Nell, which had lampooned such ridiculous antics within the British sex film biz. Its not hard to imagine Eskimo Nell’s crafty distributor Benny U. Murdoch proudly claiming “I did this film called ‘It Could Happen To You’, didn’t take a cent, so what did I do? I changed the title to ‘Intimate Teenage Secrets’, and it cleaned up.”

Michael Armstrong’s script centers around Mick (Eric Deacon) a hedonistic bloke whose social life seems to consist mainly of parties where rock music, drinks and snogging are the main ingredients, where people lose their inhibitions quicker than their clothes, and where even a quick blowjob isn’t out of the question. Naturally its not long before Mick is a card carrying STD sufferer, who inadvertently ends up passing VD around his social circle which includes his steady girlfriend Jenny (Vicky Williams), various dolly birds he meets at these parties, a swinging secretary (Sue Holderness), and -proving he has nothing if not stamina- when Mick isn’t partying hard he is also conducting an affair with an older woman (Rula Lenska) and gives her VD too. Just to illustrate that STDs aren’t just a heterosexual concern, a pair of Mick’s gay friends -depicted it has to be said in a sympathetic and non-stereotyped fashion- also have their own VD related problems. The film then takes a detour into the surreal when syphilis and gonorrhea literally appear, portrayed by actors Freddie Earle and Bernard Hill respectively, both dressed head to toe in white and sporting hats with ‘Syph’ and ‘Gon’ written on them. Mr. Syphilis and Mr. Gonorrhea are depicted like a pair of construction workers on their lunch break, enjoying a flask of coffee while commenting on the action and Mick’s follies.

While Jenny is the first to notice the after effects of contracting VD, and takes to reading medical books about her condition rather than talking to her parents, it isn’t long before Mick himself is starting to notice all the nasty discharge emerging from his penis and eventually does the right thing and heads over to Dr. Catterall’s hospital in Middlesex to have his genitals examined by Catterall’s assistants. Catterall’s commitment to the film is beyond doubt, with the good doctor lending his face and reputation to the film, allowing the crew to shoot the film in his hospital as well as conduct vox pop interviews with his staff. Even more startling several of Catterall’s patients were on hand, and it seems quite happy, to body double for the film’s male leads, providing the film with some disease ridden full frontal shots for Long to inter-cut with the actors’ shocked reaction to their character’s downstairs predicament. There is even a note in the end credits mentioning the use of body doubles, added -one imagines- at the request of the film’s actors, who didn’t want audiences to think they were seeing their actual genitals onscreen, or that they really had VD.

With discharge, deformed babies and gynecological examinations the order of the day, it is at times grim viewing, and is surely the most un-erotic film ever made by a commercial sex film director. There are some leveling moments of humour as well though, particularly priceless are the antics of George (Richard Mathews), an old codger who has been carrying on with, and got VD from Sue Holderness’ secretary, and has to confess the double whammy of his office affair and his condition to his wife. Naturally the next morning he is shooed off to Dr. Catterall’s hospital complete with a bandaged head courtesy of his angry wife. Showing that VD isn’t a new thing, Long and Armstrong also throw in a period piece sequence that essentially serves as Long’s mini version of Carry On Henry, and depicts Henry VIII (Jonathan Adams, the ‘Lord Longford’ character in Eskimo Nell) as his usual beer gutted, lecherous self, distracted from the wit and wisdom of his Apothecary (Christopher Biggins) by a passing maid’s cleavage. A situation that leads to an embarrassing incident where Henry VIII’s genitals have to be examined by candlelight by his latest Queen (Veronica Doran), who nearly sets fire to the royal jewels in the process!!!

Long’s raiding of the DeWolfe music library for the film’s soundtrack also generates some amusement, due to several of the music tracks’ more familiar use elsewhere. Johnny Hawksworth’s “Up To Date”, better known as the theme tune to Man About the House, is here scored to a scene where one of the gay characters discovers a rash on his penis, while Herbert Chappell’s “Ragtime Razzmatazz” a.k.a. the ‘shopping’ music in Dawn of the Dead, is used as a cheery accompaniment to the characters informing their ex-partners of their condition and handing out Dr Catterall’s cards.

The main thought you keep coming back to when watching the film however, is Variety Films’ gross mishandling of the film as something for the sex film market, which seems inappropriate bordering on the completely perverse, given that -shot with a teenage audience originally in mind- the film hints at the characters’ promiscuous antics while showing as little flesh as possible. Even Mick and Jenny’s make out scene is quickly interrupted by Dr. Bob and more of his horrendous slides of diseased genitals (I’ll spare you any screenshots of that). The last thing an audience lured to a film by the promise of a good old X certificate and a title like Intimate Teenage Secrets, would have been expecting to see was a parade of puss oozing pricks, and its hard to imagine that kind of audience would have got much from the film, and even less likely they got off on it.

Long’s film was also released in Spain as “Los Peligros Del Sexo”, (which translates as ‘The Dangers of Sex’), a re-titling that suggests in Spain at least the film’s true intensions weren’t sidelined in favour of a sexploitation approach. It was under this title that the film was released on VHS in Spain sometime in the 1980s, which as far as I’m aware is the only video release the film ever received. Unseen in the UK since its theatrical play dates back in the 1970s, Variety Films eventually morphed into Entertainment Film Distributors a.k.a. Entertainment in Video, which today is run by Michael Green’s sons Nigel and Trevor, handles mega blockbusters like the Lord of the Rings series, and for whom an old 1970s film about VD must be a low priority for a DVD re-release. Maybe the Flipside boys could dig the film out for one of their BFI screenings? In the meantime it seems the only way to see the film is the Spanish VHS, which suffers from the handicap of being dubbed into Spanish, something that deprives the film of some of the finer points of Dr. Bob’s lectures and Armstrong’s screenplay, but offers up the novelty of seeing the Armstrong and Long repertory cast speaking (dubbed) fluent Spanish, as well as the chance to learn how to tell someone they have VD in Spanish. You never know, it might come in handy someday!!!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

“Groupie Girl” actor rocks on

Here is the Youtube site of actor/musician Emmett Hennessey, who was one of the fictional “Orange Butterfly” band in the Derek Ford/Stanley Long film Groupie Girl back in 1969, he now lives in Trinidad and is still performing, acting as an MC and opening act for major stars, which is where these recent performances come from.

As well as Groupie Girl, Emmett was also in tons of British films and TV programmes throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, appearing in everything from Doctor Who and Cathy Come Home to Primitive London and even a few of Harrison Marks’ 8mm films. One of his earliest roles was in London in the Raw (1964), in a faked sequence showing down on their luck beatniks eating cat food, don’t be fooled though, he reassures me that the cat food in question was just cans of tuna that Stanley Long and Arnold Louis Miller stuck cat food labels on. Emmett is a super nice guy, and I’m sure the only person to have worked with both Harrison Marks and Michael Bolton !!!!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Harrison Marks threesome: 1960 clipping

Three Harrison Marks related posts, kicking off with: A newspaper clipping from the Empire News and Sunday Chronicle (January 17th 1960) , I have it on good authority that Marks and Pamela Green were never actually married, but for reasons unknown pretended to be husband and wife throughout their relationship.
(For this site’s main Harrison Marks article: click here)

Harrison Marks threesome: 1978 advert

Lastly here is an advert from a David Sullivan magazine circa 1978, for several big bust 8mm films Marks must have sold onto Sullivan, the actress referred to as “Vivetta” in the films' synopsis is better known as Clyda Rosen.
For this site’s main Harrison Marks article: click here

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Fiona Richmond soundtrack CD

Vocalion, a company that specialises in historic recordings re-issued on CD, has recently released a Fiona Richmond CD consisting of the entire score to the 1977 Richmond film ‘Hardcore’, plus selected music from the two other Richmond vehicles ‘Expose’ (1975) and ‘Lets Get Laid!’ (1977). The CD contains 34 tracks in all, 6 from Expose, 3 from Lets Get Laid and 25 from Hardcore (3 of which never made the finished film).
A selection that would no doubt find favour with Miss R herself, who once claimed to Cinema Blue magazine that Hardcore was her favourite of her films on account that it featured “no rubber glove murders, blood and gore” and that “I am the star”.

Anonymously financed by Richmond’s ‘enabler’ Paul Raymond, the Richmond films were for that reason the more lavish and stylish examples of their genre, and the soundtracks are similarly classy, piano-led affairs. Chronologically first is Steve Gray’s score for Expose, the initial Richmond film (and the one with the “rubber glove murders, blood and gore”) while the films director James Kenelm Clarke took over composer duties for Hardcore (which featured Herbie Flowers on bass guitar) and the final Richmond film Lets Get Laid, whose budget stretched to a 1940s setting, was described by one critic as “not unlike a George Formby movie with tits”, and whose nostalgic soundtrack is mainly represented on the CD by Clarke’s Ivor Novello inspired “You Turn My Legs to Water”.

The CD’s accompanying booklet includes an essay by Clarke on the making of the films and their soundtracks, as well as a piece by Vocalion’s Oliver Lomax which effectively serves as a bio of Clarke and the recently deceased Steve Gray. Both Clarke and Lomax speak highly of Gray, whose haunting soundtrack for Expose was, astonishingly, recorded in just one day at a studio in Denmark Street. While Clarke’s directing career has been reasonably well documented over the years, this is the first time his work as a composer has been written up, and reveals him to have been quite prolific in the library music field, composing for such library music companies as KPM and Amphonic music, and as a result subsequently seeing his work turn up in TV shows as diverse as The Sweeney and On the Buses. Clarke is refreshing candid about his career in his essay, admitting he lost a fortune on his first film “Got It Made” in 1973, and was eager to sail into more commercial waters with the three Fiona Richmond sexploitation films, becoming aware of the genre’s commercial possibilities after directing a documentary on the British sex film industry for the BBC’s Man Alive programme in 1975. “These three films represent” writes Clarke “a certain rather oddball example of the British film production in the 1970s; under-financed, little recognised but doggedly triumphant in terms of their overall success. The music represents, in turn, some of the best studio playing of that period”.

Never before commercially released, the CD has been mastered from the original analogue stereo tapes, and is available directly from Vocalion’s own website

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Cliff Twemlow - New book

A new book about Cliff Twemlow, the bouncer, actor, library music composer, and horror paperback writer is due out at the end of the year. Since Twemlow already wrote his autobiography in 1980, the new book intends to focus mostly on his subsequent film career in the likes of GBH, The Eye of Satan and Firestar: First Contact. The book's authors have tracked down an extensive collection of very rare films and Twemlow’s friends and family for the book, its looking very impressive.

There is also some interesting Twemlow related memorabilia and info at their website, including newspaper cuttings from around the time of GBH’s video release.