From our arts correspondent Brenda Mole
Tigerweb has obtained a rare sighting of what was intended to be the last in the ‘Confessions of…’ series of low budget British sexploitation movies of the 1970’s, but sadly never fully completed and subsequently shelved – the 1978 film ‘Confessions of a Sunday Cricketer’.
As with the previous films in the franchise, ‘Confessions of a Sunday Cricketer’ was formerly a novel by Christopher Wood (writing as Timothy Lea), one of a prolific number of sex farces chronicling the amorous misadventures of its callow male protagonist, who constantly finds himself in compromising situations with a succession of predatory and frustrated women, his gaucheness and sexual inexperience forming the basis for much of the comedy.
As with all the other films and stories, ‘Cricketer’ is basically a depiction of working class stereotypes with low cultural expectations, underlined with British class stratification, the soft porn content being sanitized by the inclusion in the cast of many of the British comic actors of the time, including those from popular sitcoms of the day. Despite their obvious vulgarity, these films proved box-office gold (‘Confessions of a Window Cleaner’ was the biggest UK grossing film of 1974 and made a minor star out of its male lead Robin Askwith), and was regarded as permissive porn for the whole family, expanding as they did the laboured innuendo of the ‘Carry On’ franchise.
The book and subsequent films in the series spoke much about the prevailing sexual politics (declining masculinity in the wake of flowering feminism), evoking memories of simpler times and saucy postcard humour, including the British attitude of poking fun at any sexual situation. The portrayal of the British as sexual buffoons and celebration of national ineptitude resound to the present day in TV programmes such as ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ and ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.
Plumber’s mate Dick Nobbs (Askwith) is persuaded by his brother-in-law Jerry Boffitt (Anthony Booth – better known as Tony Blair’s father-in-law) to play for their boss’s Sunday cricket side The Horizontal Joggers in their grudge fixture with the Suburban Gentlemen (curiously apposite and coincidental!). Although Dick hasn’t played since his schooldays, he is enticed as Jerry promises ”Lots of booze and birds at the game”. When Dick goes in to bat, his appearance moistens a gaggle of oestrogen-fuelled women on the boundary (see later) – cue a procession of knob and pussy gags. Dick bats crudely but with some flourish, making a rapid 49 before being adjudged lbw by the dithering umpire (John Le Mesurier – ”I really am most awfully sorry, old boy, but I rather think that’s out”.).
Wandering back into the pavilion he is commiserated by busty tea lady and barmaid Glenda Bedwell (Diana Dors – ”Never mind, love. Come and give me a hand shifting some heavy provisions from the storeroom. You look like you’d be good at humping”). He dutifully follows her round the back where she pins him to the floor and an amorous episode ensues.
Having recovered sufficiently, Dick is then requested by captain Rupert Penfold-Smith (Richard Wattis) to help out the lady scorer in the scorebox, where he meets demure and frustrated Pamela Potts (Lynda Bellingham). After a spot of flirting Dick’s hands slips down between Pamela’s legs. ”What are you doing!”, she cries. ”Looking for my pencil”, replies Dick. ”Well, you won’t find it down there!”. Suddenly the window on the scorebox falls shut and the numbers on the rollers begin to whiz round uncontrollably, much to the amazement of some old codgers on the boundary (Arthur Mullard, Reg Varney and Windsor Davies).
Dick then goes for a shower alone where he is confronted by the captain’s wife (Liz Fraser), who has mysteriously lost most of her clothes. ”My, my, you have a big bat”, she exclaims, as another farcical sexual episode proceeds.
Having dressed back into his cricket gear for the second innings, Dick wanders outside during the tea interval where he gets the curly finger from glamorous Gloria (Raquel Welch), the rich American wife of local business bigwig Amos Ramsbottom (guest appearance by Fred Trueman). She lures him into the nearby woods where he drops his flannels (”This could be bigger than both of us!!”) and another erotic romp is occasioned. The pair are still both naked when confronted by a furious Amos, out searching for his errant spouse, where he pursues poor Dick, still in the buff, all around the cricket field with a flailing bat.
Unfortunately, this appears to be the point where the filming ran out of both steam and funding, the unpaid director leaving in a huff with no replacement readily to hand. Filming was temporarily suspended but never continued and subsequently shelved, though its rough cut did receive a critical screening.
Creaky gags, overly familiar slapstick routines, sniggering innuendo, grimly leaden mugging plus a nervously regular injection of titillating sequences on the level of the average German sex comedy – HALLIWELL’S FILM GUIDE
Strained and patronizing low comedy – no cricket value whatsoever – WISDEN
Laugh? I thought I’d never start! RADIO TIMES