Friday, 23 January 2015
Back in October this blog attempted to shine a light on the obscurest areas of British sexploitation cinema, not only to bring these long forgotten films to the public’s attention but on the off chance that those posts might set the wheels in motion for these films to be seen again. Of all the films highlighted the one I thought might have the best chance of re-emerging was the hardcore short ‘A SCHOOLGIRL DREAMS OF KING KONG’ starring the definitely unschoolgirl-ish Jennifer Eccles, if only because that film had once been available for home viewing, albeit on the long obsolete format of 8mm, and only overseas under its German ‘Schoolgirl Traumt Von King Kong’ title. Still I’m quite surprised that only three months later, and due in part to my original blog post, A Schoolgirl Dreams of King Kong has indeed roared back to life and I’m finding myself watching it on DVD.
It was all made possible due to 8mm film collector extraordinaire ‘Sgt Rock’, who spotted an 8mm copy of the film for sale at a Spanish online auction site and put up the cash to not only buy the film but have it transferred to DVD back here in the UK. For my part I embarked on a sort of poor man’s version of a kickstarter campaign, that basically involved me contacting anyone I could think of who’d be up for buying a DVD transfer of a pornographic interpretation of King Kong, in the hope that we’d be able to cover Sgt. Rock’s costs (fifty five pounds for the 8mm film itself and an extra sixty pounds for the DVD transfer) and maybe show a bit of profit as reward for the heavy lifting he has done in getting this piece of British sex film obscura back into circulation.
The premise for A Schoolgirl Dreams of King Kong would make the majority of people doubt its existence, after all a porno about a woman fantasizing about being fucked by fictional giant gorilla King Kong? It sounded beyond ridiculous, more befitting a made up ‘film within a film’ that might have gotten a laugh from being name checked in the likes of The Yes Girls, Eskimo Nell or Can I Come Too. Yet A Schoolgirl Dreams of King Kong is very real, and now I have the film itself to prove it.
A Schoolgirl Dreams of King Kong’s star, the aforementioned and pseudonymous ‘Jennifer Eccles’ was an adult model with considerable charisma and an aura of bohemian decadence about her. With her dark hair, glass green eyes, stunning body and devilish grin, Eccles seemed to revel in her odyssey through 1970s sexual excess and threw herself into the eye of that storm with uninhibited glee, appearing in hardcore photo-shoots for European magazines and baring all for home-grown top shelf publications like Mayfair, Knave, Men Only, Escort and Whitehouse. Eccles was a woman with the right body, in the right place at the right time, arriving in British pornography at a time when the loosening censorship of the 1970s allowed British magazines to explore female genitalia with greater freedom than ever before, and Eccles’ untrimmed bush and notably large and fleshy labia lips made her the perfect muse for that most pussy worshipping of decade. Eccles –whose real name might have been Gillian Hanna- adopted multiple guises during her porn modelling career, she’d been a topless genie let out of the lamp, an overaged schoolgirl being screwed by a farmer on top of a tractor, a beach bully kicking sand on another woman’s face, a lady trucker offering a ride for a ride to a hitchhiking ‘Gypsy’ Dave Cooper, a stiletto boot licking masochist, and a leather cap wearing femme fatale. Eccles even slipped on an oversized blonde wig and a girl next door image for a Mayfair shoot that anticipated the big hair, big bust fixations of the 1980s glamour modelling scene. Whatever your fantasy, chances are there was a version of Jennifer Eccles to satisfy it. A former glamour photographer’s recent memory of Eccles being “a nut case in the nicest possible way” in real life, both cracked me up and hinted that there might be a degree of authenticity to the wild, crazy image that porno gives you of her.
a few of Jennifer's many magazine appearances
A Schoolgirl Dreams of King Kong casts Jennifer as a rich young woman who divides her burgeoning sexual desires between King Kong and her father’s French maid. After kissing the former’s image, which she has had imprinted on a birthday card, Jennifer makes a heavy handed move on the latter, pinching the maid’s bottom with such force that it causes the woman to go tumbling onto Jennifer’s bed, where Jennifer’s aggressive if not entirely unwelcome seduction of the maid continues. After Jennifer falls out of the bed, the maid gets the upper hand and playfully pats Jennifer on her ass before attempting to resume her duties. Undeterred by the setback, Jennifer pesters the maid into sitting legs akimbo in what looks to be a barber’s chair –evidentially every rich young woman’s bedroom should have one- where she coerces the maid into letting Jennifer masturbate her with a banana. In a prelude to the freakery to come, there are quick flashes to the phallic fantasies that are simultaneously playing out in Jennifer’s head.
Filmed against a black background these find a naked Jennifer suggestively fondling and rubbing her crotch against a giant sized banana. Constant reminders of the King Kong theme come courtesy of crash zooms and close-ups of the famous photomontage of Kong towering over the New York skyline from the 1933 film, shots that are scored to a male voice doing a hammy imitation of King Kong’s trademark roar, the effect of which manages to be both laughable and unsettling.
In an about turn A Schoolgirl Dreams of King Kong then dismantles the sexually aggressive image its built up of Jennifer, by revealing her to be the least sexually experienced of the two women, if not –its implied- a virgin. The maid’s attempt to repay the sexual favour that has just been done to her, by sticking Jennifer with the banana, proves too painful for Jennifer to endure, and also triggers another momentary flash into her fantasies, this one finding Jennifer posing legs akimbo and the giant banana being fired in-between her legs only to unsuccessfully bounce out of her pussy.
Jennifer nearly dies of embarrassment when the maid’s boyfriend, Charlie, shows up. Being unable to pull up her hot pants in time forces Jennifer to hop around the room with the hot pants around her ankles, futilely attempting to protect her modesty. The possibility of a threesome is briefly contemplated, with Charlie and Jennifer making out in front of the maid, before jealousy gets the better of the maid. Pushing Jennifer aside, the maid wants Charlie all to herself, and the pair of them go at it on Jennifer’s bed, allowing a frustrated Jennifer a ringside seat to this crash course in heterosexual sex.
It is an at times perplexing move for A Schoolgirl Dreams of King Kong, what with the film initially seeming like a sexual showcase for Jennifer, only to then quickly turn her character into an unwanted sexual nuisance, and a source of indifference, if not hostility by the other two characters in the film. In doing so however, the film does give Jennifer the scope to display a hitherto unknown flair for physical comedy –with the maid pushing Jennifer off the bed being a reoccurring gag in the film- and throws her the acting challenge of playing a clumsy, sexual novice. It is a big ask, but Eccles proves surprising adept at selling the idea that a man’s cock is a source of mystery to her, with her character hesitantly approaching Charlie’s erect penis and prodding it with a believable mixture of fear and excitement. Only when Jennifer resorts to underhanded means -taking photographs of the pair and using the photos as a blackmailing tool- is she allowed to intrude on the couple’s lovemaking.
In an unusual touch the scene in which she finally gets her wish of being deflowered by Charlie, actually places greater erotic value on the character’s facial responses to the sex over close-ups of intercourse itself. Intercut with all this is what the film has really been building up to, and while in reality Jennifer is losing her cherry to Charlie in her mind she is having torrid sex with her hero King Kong. Whereas in the 1933 film, Fay Wray only managed to be tied by ropes to columns whilst awaiting King Kong’s first appearance, the dirty minded variation that A Schoolgirl Dreams of King Kong serves up finds Jennifer tied to King Kong’s penis itself. Her attempts to free herself from the ropes only having a masturbatory effect on Kong, but when she does manage to get loose Jennifer turns the tables on Kong and begins riding on top of his erection and whacking it with a cane into even greater heights of arousal.
Despite its thoroughly demented concept of ‘sex with King Kong’ never being far away from the film’s attention, A Schoolgirl Dreams of King Kong belongs to a recognisable trend of high quality, professionally made and expensively produced hardcore loops that were shot in London in the late 1970s, which include the likes of ‘No Morals’, ‘Arabian Knights’, ‘Locked Out’ and ‘Kameraklub’. Loops that largely focused on the British upper classes, and boasted five star hotel or Regent’s Park area location shooting. Plush settings that not only represented pornographers trying to up their game but played to the rest of Europe’s perception about the British upper classes being a privately debauched bunch, an image no doubt still fresh in their minds from the Profumo affair. As these loops were made by European film makers temporary shooting in London, or British pornographers working for big European porn companies, these loops tended to be a breed apart from regular British sexploitation fare, and certainly a whole lot less vanilla in there sexual content.
At their most subversive these loops delight in tearing down the respectability of the British elite, in ‘No Morals’ the three daughters of a well to do family opt to take their own cherries by using a dildo equipped blow up doll, before offering blowjobs to two passing workmen, who then go on to gang bang the girls’ mother. At the end of the loop the head of the household returns home to be greeted by the sight of his female offspring, his hired hands, his wife and the workmen all participating in an exhaustive orgy. As far as No Morals is concerned there is nothing like a sex party to break down those class boundaries. A Schoolgirl Dreams of King Kong likewise offers up another poor little rich girl who isn’t averse to humping the servants, as well as a patriarchal figure who is used as a figure of fun and ridicule. In a variation on No Morals’ ending, here Jennifer and her playmates manage to put their clothes back on just as her father is arriving back home. Having successfully pulled the wool over his eyes, Jennifer and the maid exchange knowing glances over afternoon tea, as Jennifer peels back and eats the banana from the earlier masturbation scene, the significance of which is totally lost on her dullard, tea drinking father.
When I first mentioned this film on the blog I speculated that Russell Gay might have been its director, but now I’m beginning to wonder if A Schoolgirl Dreams of King Kong couldn’t be a forgotten loop made by sexual revolutionary and iconoclastic pornographer Lasse Braun. The film is ‘presented’ by one Mike Hunter, who in reality is actually Gerd Wasmund, a German porn baron, who acted as producer on a series of hardcore loops that Braun filmed in London during the silver jubilee year of 1977. Loops that were not only released separately, but were also complied into a feature film ‘Sex Maniacs’, complete with an Amicus horror anthology like connecting sequence that finds a series of strangers assembling at a psychiatrist’s office and passing the time by recounting their past deeds and fantasies to each other. In a massively provocative move Braun opens Sex Maniacs with filmed from a car footage of Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament, a sequence that carries the considerable charge of seeing an illegally made hardcore film unravel quite literally under the noses of the British establishment.
Could A Schoolgirl Dreams of King Kong have been intended as a vignette in Sex Maniacs that for whatever reason never made the grade? Its contents fitting in with Sex Maniacs’ theme of characters anecdotally indulging in extreme or outlandish sexual fantasies. As 1977 was the year that Eccles made two softcore shorts for Russell Gay (Shower Lust, Beach Orgy), this would in theory have made her available to work with Braun during his 77 busman’s holiday in London, the use of her in one of his shorts would also fit in with Braun’s casting methodology of using the more extreme characters from UK porn in Sex Maniacs and his British filmed loops.
Of course I’m posing questions out loud here that I freely admit I don’t have the answers to. This is very much uncharted cinematic territory. Maybe over time a clearer picture of the clandestine side of 1970s British filmmaking will emerge, until then this blog serves as an inquisitive exploration into an era that still keeps a tight grip on its more illicit secrets. A pity though, as A Schoolgirl Dreams of King Kong is the type of film that simply floods your imagination with questions over its production. First and foremost being where did they find someone willing and able to knock them together a massive, monster sized black penis for the climactic scenes? and did they manage to transport it to and from the shooting location without attracting the attention of any uptight busybodies? After all its not the kind of prop that you could easily dream up a cover story for, no one would ever believe that thing was going to be used in the latest Disney production, or was part of the new ride at the local family amusement park.
Considering that this was a decade when hardcore porn was filmed in London under only cloak and dagger circumstances, with tales of film labs being given backhanders to develop hardcore footage and hardcore porn feature films being shot at Twickenham Film Studios under phoney, innocuous shooting titles, the makers of A Schoolgirl Dreams of King Kong took a considerable risk in order to bring the central idea of their film to life and commission this potentially compromising prop. Not only that but they were also stepping on very big feet indeed with this production, what with its continual flashing back to a copyrighted image from the 1933 King Kong, and the use of the King Kong name in its title. In light of Dino De Laurentiis –the producer of the 1976 remake of King Kong- having sued the makers of Frank Agrama’s Queen Kong for copyright infringement, thus rendering that film un-releasable in the UK, the makers of A Schoolgirl Dreams of King Kong appear to have gotten off lightly, with perhaps only good luck and a lower profile having spared them the wraith of Dino.
A Schoolgirl Dreams of King Kong isn’t quite able to get itself together as hardcore pornography, compared to ol’Kong, Charlie comes up short in the money shot department and Eccles is kept at arms’ length from heterosexual sex for a large percentage of the 22 minute running time, meaning that her European porn magazine appearances are still the best way of seeing her in a hardcore capacity. In its favour the film can lay a definitive claim to containing the most outrageous imagery ever to grace British sexploitation cinema, in its depiction of King Kong sex, effortlessly blowing away all known completion. It is as if Ken Russell himself had burst onto the set, and still working off all the visual excesses from Lisztomania, demanded a halt to all this conventional porn malarkey, in favour of sending the lead actress off to climb up the side of a bloody great big prick. The downside to exposing yourself to this image? you’ll never be able to listen to a certain song by The Hollies again without recalling the time you saw that song’s namesake riding high on big, black dick and bringing forth a geyser of semen in the process…. For it truly was beauty that caused the beast to blow its load over the New York skyline.
For more information about A Schoolgirl Dreams of King Kong contact Sgt. Rock at email@example.com
Saturday, 10 January 2015
RIP Lance Percival, I found myself watching him recently in an 1978 episode of Target, where he got to show his range by being cast against comedy type as a detestable hack writer, but he also brought considerable warmth and charm to one of my favourite films, 1968’s ‘Mrs Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter’ where he played spoon playing, aristocratic tramp Sir Percy. On the basis of that role I’ve often thought Percival probably would have made for a decent Doctor Who, his ‘Mrs Brown’ turn suggests he would have slotted in quite well between Pertwee and T. Baker. An affectionate wave goodbye to this English Gent.
Sunday, 21 December 2014
Monday, 15 December 2014
A dark cloud looms over this month, with the news that my internet pal Chris O’Loughlin, who also wrote under the pen name Jonny Sambuca, passed away on the 21st of November, after a battle with cancer. I guess you could say it was Timmy Lea who first caused Chris to enter into my orbit, when Chris contacted me with the idea of him writing a book about the Timmy Lea ‘Confessions of a’ film series. What initially struck me was that Chris was an Australian, born in Hobart, Tasmania, and while I’d been aware that Australia was something of a second home for British sex comedies –with even terrible ones like The Love Pill and Emmanuelle in Soho having been released there- Chris really opened my eyes to just how well loved Robin Askwith’s cinematic sexcapades were ‘down under’. Chris had amassed a huge collection of Confessions related memorabilia from around the world, Yugoslavian stills, Icelandic pressbooks, back issues of Titbits, and ads for cheapskate ‘Confessions’ tie-in competitions with prizes including an electric blanket and a deluxe pop-up toaster, good grief Columbia pictures and Greg Smith were really pushing the boat out with those glittering prizes.
Chris’ main reason for contacting me was due to my friendship with Suzy Mandel, who he’d hoped to interview for the book. A plan that eventually morphed into Suzy writing the ‘outro’ for the chapter about Confessions of a Driving Instructor. I encouraged Chris to seek out further former Confessions starlets for the book, not that he needed my encouragement there, Carol Hawkins initially showed an interest but never got back to him, Chris did however strike up a friendship with Nicola Blackman, ‘Blackbird’ in Confessions from a Holiday Camp. Nicola’s outro to the Holiday Camp chapter turned out to be a superb piece of writing in its own right, and satisfied my own curiosity as to what the actress made of a now rather contentious role thirty odd years on. Chris had hoped to round out the book with an interview with the great man himself, Robin Askwith, but in the event had to make do with archive interviews with Askwith and Greg Smith, originally conducted in the mid to late 2000s.
So much hostility exists towards the Confessions films on home turf, decades of put downs, snobbery and historical revisionism have taken its toll on the series, with much of the criticism predictably emanating from people detached from the working class culture these films were a product of. This was one of the reasons why I threw whatever support I could behind Chris’ book. Much like Su Tune’s Robin Askwith blog, I felt that having being born outside the land these films sprung from was actually their mutual strong point. The likes of Chris and Su never having been tainted by the negativity that haunts these films in the UK, or the fear of being branded ‘unhip’ for saying anything nice about the Confessions series. Sure enough, Chris’ book boasted a true fan’s enthusiasm for the series, with pages and pages of headshots of his favourite characters, the crème de la crème of their Christopher Wood dialogue, and bits and bobs of rarely heard trivia (Suzy was particularly tickled by the revelation that Confessions producer Greg Smith had been a pantomime dame early on in his career.) Chris wasn’t afraid to ruffle a few politically correct feathers either, and fully entered into the spirit of the films by phwoaring over their actresses. Olivia Munday earned his praise for her “great slutty performance”’ in Window Cleaner, whilst in Confessions of a Driving Instructor “Suzy Mandel looks real hands down the front of ya pants horn cracking, the best she has ever looked on film”. Everything about the book spoke of his gratitude for the fun and enjoyment the films had given him over the years “it was a great thrill to be amongst two hundred odd people laughing and hollering from the very first opening to the closing credits” he wrote of attending a 1981 cinema screening of Confessions of a Window Cleaner.
His take on the Confessions films wasn’t entirely in keeping with my own or popular opinion, he wasn’t a big fan of Confessions of a Pop Performer and thought the sequels director Norman Cohen was an notably inferior director to Window Cleaner’s Val Guest (I’ve never seen the join where one ends and the other’s work begins myself). However the book was Chris’ own personal journey to the heart of the Confessions films, and I couldn’t help but respect the time and effort he’d put into it.
Privately I was rather concerned that finding a publisher for such a book would be an uphill struggle, especially with it being a visually driven book, and one that only the expensive, coffee table treatment would have done justice to. Realistically, I have to admit that British sexploitation cinema is a very hard sell to people, harder than say British horror or American sexploitation cinema. I kept my fears to myself though, hoping they were unjustified, and passed onto him the names of just about every niche British publisher I could think of who might pick it up and run with the idea. Their responses were- I gather- a bit muted, with one publisher pretty much echoing my private fears when they turned him down- citing the fact that a similar themed book they’d published had been one of their lowest selling titles.
I didn’t hear back from Chris for a long while after that, and he seemed to disappear from the internet for a time. His silence I’d hoped would be entirely down to him being busy re-tuning the book and pitching it to various publishers, but when he eventually re-emerged ill-health sadly turned out to be the real reason for his absence. “I’m alright at the mo, but long-term unfortunately doesn’t look too positive” he told me back in June. It was around this time that he sent me a 185 page PDF copy of the book, and asked for my feedback. Under normal circumstances I might have chipped in the odd bit of constructive criticism and advice, but given the awfulness of his situation, I felt the need to offer nothing but praise and good will. I did make the suggestion that if all else failed then maybe the book could be published electronically, or self-distributed on data CDs, but I got the impression that he always wanted it to be a ‘real’ book, and besides I suspected his health needed to be his number one priority and that the book was being put on the back burner. In our last correspondence I brought up the subject of Guy N. Smith’s unofficial ‘Confessions’ books, which Chris had given a special visual mention to at the end of his book. Atrocious looking, even by the inglorious standards of Confessions rip-offs, these books were so creatively barren they came up with their names by merely adding the word ‘sexy’ to the titles of pre-existing Askwith films, hence ‘Sexy Confessions of a Window Cleaner’ and ‘Sexy Confessions of a Pop Performer’.
Confessions of a Window Cleaner- Guy N Smith style
Smith’s writing in these books appears to play second fiddle to softcore photos of lame Askwith and Olivia Munday clones going at it. Whereas in Smith’s horror paperbacks the characters were frequently in danger of being killed by crabs, the models in his Confessions books look more in peril of contracting the crabs. Needless to say, the sneak peek of the Smith knockoffs in Chris’ book makes you instantly want to go out and find one of these monstrosities for yourself. “They are what you would expect” Chris jokingly warned. So our relationship at least ended on a high, and a laugh, with both of us taking the piss out of Guy N. Smith.
In a perfect world, Chris would still be around, I wouldn’t be writing this, and you’d be holding a glossy, hardback, coffee table version of his book in your hands. I can only hope that the book surfaces in one form or another, and I’m heartbroken that he didn’t realize his dream of having it published. It deserves to be regarded as a treasure trove by Confessions fans, and Chris himself deserves to be remembered as a man who flew the flag high for all things Confessions.
Thursday, 11 December 2014
Double Exposure turns out to be that rare beast, an Anouska Hempel vehicle that is actually worth seeing. James Compton (David Baron) a middle-aged fashion photographer accepts a private commission from shipping tycoon Howard Townsend (Alan Brown) to photograph Townsend’s trophy girlfriend/mistress Simone (Hempel). A series of intimate photo-shoots soon unwisely transforms into a secret affair between photographer and subject. However romance gets nipped in the bud when Simone is kidnapped by three criminal former associates of Townsend, who use their knowledge of the affair to blackmail Compton into the dangerous position of acting as middle man between themselves and the crooked Townsend, whose shipping business is a front for arms dealing.
Double Exposure appears to have been independently produced then jointly distributed by two big American companies (Columbia and Warner Brothers), fittingly then it’s a low-budget film that is initially preoccupied with masquerading as a major studio production. Anything that indicates wealth and success, be it characters travelling by Rolls-Royce, private jet and steam train, or country estates and rows of antique cars is treated as visually holy here, and constantly captures the eye and camera of regular British exploitation director of photography Alan Pudney. It doesn’t really have the budget to stretch to A-List stars though, a factor that isn’t necessary a disadvantage. Since as a result, Double Exposure is filled with solid British character actors, all clearly relishing the opportunity to get their hands on larger-than-usual roles for them. David Baron makes for a laid back but efficient hero. With his lived in face and hangdog expressions, Baron is perfectly cast as the Bailey-esque swinging Sixties photographer disgracefully drifting into middle age and unapologetically still wearing jeans and suede jackets to work. You can just about buy into the idea that Simone would go for him, due to a combination of Compton’s own likeability and the despicability of Townsend, who isn’t above slapping Simone around as a way of relieving his frustrations.
Another standout performance comes courtesy of Robert Russell, a prolific TV and film actor, probably best remembered as John Stearne in Witchfinder General. Cast here as Bradley, the head kidnapper, at the outset it’s the type of sadistic goon role that Russell could have played in his sleep, but the character grows more compelling as the film progresses revealing Bradley to be a man who isn’t entirely without his own moral compass. Bradley acts as Simone’s savour at one point when his brutish underlings try to rape her, and attempts to justify his kidnapping of her by pointing out that Townsend himself has committed far worse acts in the pursuit of money. In the process stirring Simon’s long dormant consciousness over the murderous activities that have been funding her and Townsend’s privileged lifestyles.
Hempel is the cast member who has drawn the short straw when it comes to roles here, while male characters develop during the film, Hempel is stuck with a role that goes from beautiful but shallow fashion model to captured damsel in distress. Inevitably evoking unwanted memories of her role in the dreaded Tiffany Jones, and denying her any of the acting sparks that flew by the casting of her as a villainess in Russ Meyer’s Blacksnake. Maybe I’m being a bit unfair on the filmmakers and The Hemp there though, as there is evidence in the film to suggest we are deliberately deceived into thinking of Simone as weak, defenceless and one-dimensional in order to pull the rug from under us right at the very end (the UK and Canadian VHS covers are unfortunately hugely spoilerish in this respect, both drawing on a key image from the final scene in the film).
As double-dealings and plot twists are the name of the game in Double Exposure, we are definitely talking the type of film here where the less you know about the plot going into it, the better. Not that I had much of a choice myself, little having been written about Double Exposure over the years, and the film having an almost invisible presence on the internet. The only passing mention of it I could find on the net being during an overview of Hempel’s career contained within bloodypitofhorror blog’s review of Blacksnake, but even there the reviewer hadn’t managed to see the film and was uncertain whether Double Exposure should be regarded as a horror film or a crime thriller. Having had the benefit of tracking it down, I can confirm Double Exposure to be in the crime thriller camp, albeit with brief, but vicious moments of violence that wouldn’t be out of place in a Pete Walker film of the period. An opening face slashing and shooting to death of a minor character makes the preceding ‘AA’ BBFC certificate card seem quite lenient, but the one scene guaranteed to linger in the memory here finds two of Townsend’s heavies dressed up as cleaning ladies in order to sneak up on a “double crossing bastard” associate of his, who is summarily thrown off the top of a building!
A subplot that sees Compton enlist the help of Patterson, an ex-government boffin who has moved on into computer espionage, brings about the surprise casting of a pre-fame Hazel O’Connor, in one of her two film appearances prior to Breaking Glass (the other one being David Hamilton Grant’s Girls Come First). Briefly cast as the Moneypenny character to Patterson’s ‘M’, O’Connor first shows up as an ordinary office secretary before being given the gem of a request to “put on a mini-skirt and heavy make-up, we’ve got a special assignment for you”. Said assignment involving O’Connor strutting her stuff up Greek street and posing as a hooker in order to distract the thugs Townsend has had trailing Compton. For a laugh keep your eyes peeled for the pervy looks O’Connor gets from real life passers-by during this scene, who don’t appear to be aware they were being filmed.
Apart from Hazel O’Connor, Patterson’s other trick up his sleeve is a (then) futuristic device that Patterson has created by hooking up a phone to a computer which allows him to connect to other people’s computers and steal information stored on them. In what could now be seen as an early example of the internet and computer hacking, showcased here a good few decades before either would become commonplace. “Computer espionage is the trend of the future” predicts Patterson with allot more spot on accuracy than the filmmakers could have ever dreamed of.
While Double Exposure doesn’t quite make it into the same league as say, Get Carter, Sitting Target and The Squeeze, it leaves a decent enough impression for you to question why the film isn’t better known. It’s certainly on a par with a better than average episode of The Sweeney or The Professionals, to which it shares a certain kinship, due to the presence of actors associated with TV shows of that nature and a shared passion for the funkier side of the era’s library music. Nobody gets to walk around or drive about in Double Exposure for very long before some lively piece of 70s library music starts to overpower the soundtrack.
By rights the film should have acted as a calling card for its director to go on and helm episodes of TV action series, much in the way that ‘Freelance’ did for Francis Megahy, but as far as I can tell the credited director/writer/producer William Webb doesn’t appear to have made anything else. Should that unfortunately be the case, Webb can at least take solace in the fact that the one film he did make fetches high prices these days. According to the bloodypitofhorror’s Blacksnake review a Canadian VHS release of Double Exposure recently sold for $250 on Ebay, an eye-opening amount given we’re not talking about a well-known or much sought after film here. In light of the rumours about Anouska Hempel having bought the rights to Tiffany Jones in order to suppress further screenings of said film, is it wicked of me to wonder out loud whether a person willing to pay that much for a VHS of Double Exposure might also be a person with a burning desire to perform a disappearing trick on their former acting career?