Confessions From the David Galaxy Affair (UK - DVD R2)
The Wilson Bros confess that they like their 70s British sex comedies smutty
Though David Sullivan’s rampantly successful 1977 magnum opus Come Play With Me was considered to be the beginning of the end of this particular subgenre, there were still a few features that came after it, squeezing out the final drops from the soggy used tissue that was the seventies British sex comedy.
This film was handled by Tigon Productions, who were once the played third banana to Hammer and Amicus in the British horror film stakes, but by this point were now reduced to distributing dubious films from other companies. Tigon insisted on saddling The David Galaxy Affair with the awkward ‘ Confessions From...’ prefix, as a tenuous way of trying to tie it into the riotously popular series of films that starred Robin Askwith—worse still, it was eventually re-released with the blunt (not to mention entirely misleading title of Sex Slave. Talking of Tigon, the man behind it was Tony Tenser—a guy who was more interested in the financial side of things than the artistic side—and they should have had a caricature of him as Tony Tigon on the poster of each Tigon release, along with a speech bubble that exclaims ’They're crrrrrrrrrap!’
The story concerns professional astrologer and lothario David Galaxy (Alan Lake, aka Mr Diana Dors), who finds himself entangled with the Law and must be able to provide an alibi to clear himself from an incident that involved robbery and murder five years previously.
There is a secondary storyline that has Galaxy being lured into an attractive proposition—to earn a lot of money if he can give a wealthy socialite (Mary Millington) the first orgasm of her life. This sub-plot is merely an excuse for Millington to get her kit off and have simulated sex with Alan Lake—if it wasn’t simulated, then one could easily imagine Diana Dors standing on the side of the set, rolling pin in hand and tapping her foot with a scowl on her face.
We both had a serious problem with main storyline, in that is doesn't make it clear that Galaxy played any part in the robbery that is mentioned throughout the film; if the audience was actually informed either way, then the audience would be able to decide how to approach the protagonist and adjust their feelings in preparation for the climax of the film. Without this, the audience spends much of the time hoping that they are going to be told, but this is not the case and a sense of deep frustration hangs over the things.
Alan Lake’s performance is deeply frustrating; Lake was a talented actor, but the good work he does here is undermined by some of the most shameless mugging ever seen on the silver screen, so bad in fact that Jim Carrey would have thought that a modicum of self-restraint would have been called for. One instance shows where the self-indulgences of Lake were curtailed in the editing room occurs during the sequence where the gorgeous Sally Faulkner berates him for failing to get it up the night before. She sings a spiteful ditty about not ‘having it’, before throwing him a sausage and walking off. Lake brings the sausage to towards his mouth, as though to mimic a cigar, but the editor unleashes a pre-emptive strike by cutting away before Lake is able to do some sort of Jimmy Saville impression and mug at the camera once again.
When called upon to occasionally provide a bit of pathos or drama, he certainly delivers the goods, but these are very few and far between. Lake loved the camera and if we’re being honestly, it was probably a mutual appreciation, as has a suave nature that is captured perfectly on film, dominating every scene he’s in.
Lake's effervescent personality belies the fact that within a few short years, his life would be beset by tragedy; his wife, Diana Dors, would be diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1982 and would eventually succumb to it two years later; Lake also discovered that he was terminally ill with a brain tumour and committed suicide by shooting himself in the head a few months after his wife died.
Mary Millington is better than usual—the acting coaching that she had been taking from John M East seemed to be paying off—and she delivers a performance that is noticeably better than the ‘deer-caught-in-the-headlights’ one she gave in Come Play With Me. Had she not died, Millington would never have been a ‘good’ actress, but should she have continued, certainly might have been a competent one, as her dialogue delivery in this film is far more natural than had been seen previously.
Diana Dors had been popping up in numerous exploitation films during the seventies, just appearing in one or two scenes, taking the money and running. Around two decades before this film, Dors was being promoted as a ‘Blonde Bombshell’ and the ‘British Marilyn Monroe’, and after starring in Yield to the Night, Dors looked as though she was going to be a heavyweight actress, but sadly this did not happen, so she was reduced to glorified cameos in films that would have been beneath her just a few shorts years earlier. Dors does the usual three scene appearance, but she doesn’t quite take-the-money-and-run, as she provides the vocals for the irritatingly catchy theme song. It's a more respectable turn than her one in Adventures of a Taxi Driver, anyway.
Appearing alongside Dors is Bernie Winters, who was still in his wondering-what-to-do-now-that-Mike-has-pissed-off phase and before he decided to get a St Bernard and reinvent himself to be more popular than his sibling and former partner. Winters plays Dors' chauffeur, who has a penchant for necking generous amounts of alcohol whilst his employer isn't looking. It's not exactly a deep, soul-searching thespian role, and whilst Winters hams it up more than a little, he's not bad.
Special mention must go to Glynn Edwards, who plays Chief Inspector Evans, the copper who is determined to see David Galaxy go down; Edwards always was a great actor, and he is given material to sink his teeth into and plays the character with nicely-judged levels of characterisation, playing both good cop and bad cop in one scene. Though Edwards’ eventual epitaph will include the words ‘Dave the Barman from Minder’, he was much more than that as the performance in this film clearly demonstrates. He still seems a little uncomfortable without That's Life's Gavin Campbell by his side, as he was in The Playbirds.
There are a number of other recognisable faces filling out the supporting cast, including Anthony Booth (who was one of the mainstays of the Confessions series) and future golfing Mafia member Kenny Lynch in the role of a barman. There is always something a little uncomfortable about the sexual side of Lynch being brought out, as we first discovered when he winked at a couple of coupling ‘kids’ in Carry on Loving. ’Going all the way?’ Get a room and some porno, Kenny!
If Mary Millington somewhat unfairly got top billing on the posters for what was little more than an extended cameo, then David Sullivan's insistence on having his new squeeze Rosemary England (who only appears in one or two scenes) getting second billing on the posters was downright insulting to Alan Lake, who doesn't even get his name on the posters, despite being the star and playing the title character.
With the Miss Beauty Bust contest that opens the film, director Roe certainly didn’t believe in close-ups, with the talent good money had paid for all shot from a long way off. Surely if you wanted to get as much flesh as possible in the movie, then getting all the unclothed crumpet in tight (or even medium) shot would be seen as a priority. Much of the rest of the film is shot using medium-shots, which is the hallmark of low-budget filmmaking, as close-ups are expensive and time-consuming. Clearly a case of these girls suffering from a lack of exposure.
It being the 1970s and in the wake of the legalisation of homosexuality, there are the expected number casual put-downs for that particular lifestyle. Most come in the form of Lake’s stock effeminate tones, obviously drawn from his time on the stage, with the scene when he uses a spot of ‘poofy’ acting to get out of being beaten up by former Bond villain Milton Reid for having sex with his wife.
Not content with merely offending the gay community, Lake also delivers some lines with accents that would offend Indians, Pakistanis and the various black communities, in a manner that wouldn't look out of place in an episode of Mind Your Language, or even the infamous Curry and Chips. Norman Chappell made a mini career of this stuff a few decades ago, so just take a look at his ‘Indian Bus Conductor’ in the movie Love Thy Neighbour to see how far society has come.
One of the few instances which point towards his involvement in the crime he’s being fitted up for is told during the sepia flashback, which indicates that he might have been collecting protection money. It’s a short step from that to out-and-out theft, but if you want to try and connect the dots, it’s the best place to start.
There is a certain tradition in British adult films which is proudly maintained here, and that is the defilation of authority figures. The Confessions series managed to taint the image of the police, driving-instructors, the aristocracy and others, whilst The David Galaxy Affair has its wicked way with traffic wardens. They are clearly the source of anger to many, and having Mr Galaxy trick her into his bed just makes the collective revenge even sweeter. It’s almost as though such humiliation is written into the script as surely as it is into a Bill Murray contract.
One of the ‘money-shot’ sequences comes when our man with the medallion brings a couple of birds over to his pad, where their preoccupied host shuns their advances, opting for a lesbian rumba instead. They strip off and get frisky, but what caught our collective eye was the peculiar variance in suntan between the girl, almost looking like positive and negative versions of each other—one very white with thick pubic hair for panties, the other with a healthy tan but with a blinding-white tan-line on her entire bikini area. Not that it detracted from the onscreen action, but what could ruin such a scene for us—eh, readers??
Our guess is that the services of Mr Lake were an expensive proposition, and he was able to negotiate his way out of doing second unit work. This is evidenced by a sequence where our loyal coppers are tailing him on the way to the races. All of their stuff is with Glynn Edwards actually driving the van he’s sitting in, but when we get close-ups of Lake cruising the streets of London in his Mercedes, it uses some of the most awful poor-mans‘ process we‘ve ever seen. The camera rocks a little whilst some kind of torch is flicked at the car to simulate light of some description, which is rather puzzling, given that it’s supposed to be broad daylight.
The best performance in the film comes from Queenie Watts, who only has a single scene, but delivers the goods in a manner that comes as quite surprising compared the rest of the turns; Watts plays Galaxy's mother and he telephones her as the noose is tightening around his neck, only to find that he has broken her heart one time too many. Watts is great in this small role, and the emotional level she demonstrates is head and shoulders above most of the cast.
Confessions From the David Galaxy Affair has been remastered from the original materials and it really does look a treat; the colours are pretty fresh and vibrant and there is precious little in the way of damage and debris onscreen; if Odeon had been so inclined, this is one remastering job in their Slap and Tickle series that would have certainly been able to survive the leap on to Blu-ray. If there one issue we have with it, it is that the 1.33:1 aspect ratio was probably not the one used for theatrical exhibition, as it was clearly shot and framed with the 1.85:1 ratio in mind, because there are copious areas of dead space at the top and bottom of the screen. It could have survived being cropped to 1.78:1, but that might have been at the expense of image quality. It's fabulous work nonetheless.
The Dolby Digital mono soundtrack is fine; obviously mixing it into 5.1 would not really have been that productive, but what is here is clean and clear, as clear as the original materials will allow, with Diana Dors' vocals on the annoyingly catchy theme song being perfectly discernable.
As with other more recent titles in Odeon's Slap and Tickle series, Confessions From the David Galaxy Affair comes with another film, that is just a few minutes short of being officially classified as feature-length, but essentially gives the viewer a double-feature.
Queen of the Blues
Welcome to the hottest strip joint this side of Soho, where the women are hot and their dance routines so red hot that the seats come with an asbestos lining! Mary Millington and Rosemary England top the bill and a high old time is guaranteed for all.
We welcome back the familiar face (and teeth) of David M East, who became close to the late Ms Millington during the final, troubled years of her life and had a hand in a number of adult productions during this golden age. He plays Mike Carter, co-owner and resident comic at the new burlesque club, who along with his little brother Tony (Allan Warren) run into a whole heap of trouble when the mafia try to force a protection racket on them. Undeterred, they keep the strippers stripping as the mob keep on screwing. Turning the screws. But you got that. Hopefully.
With the local mafia turning the screws still tighter, the club decides to use passive resistance and satire in amusing acts of defiance. As the hoods sit watching, one of the girls walks out dressed as a gangster during a routine and forces another stripper to disrobe, bullying them into lesbian manoeuvres. We’re not sure if our boys with the switchblades are either too dumb or too aroused to spot they are being satirised, but you can hear it whizzing over their heads. There’s many a truth spoken in jest, and Mike Carter decides to fire off swipes at his oppressors during his turn as MC.
It’s a happy coincidence that John East was a family friend of the late Max Miller, and channels all of his energies into imitating him for the club comic. The delivery is the same, the gags are the same, Hell, even the suit belonged to the Cheeky Chappie. He does an OK impersonation, but in the end, it is only imitation. There are times when East is so desperate to rattle off the material that he forgets to breath, leaving viewers to exclaim ‘exhale for Chrissake!’ when nearing the end of a particularly long sequence. The suit becomes akin to Excalibur, and though East is able to get a decent grip on it, the sword remains firmly in the stone.
While Rosemary England was getting more coverage in the pages of David Sullivan’s publications at the time, it’s the late Ms Millington who stands out from the rest of the birds here. In one sequence involving backroom banter, you can practically see one of the girls being poked with a stick to queue them for their next piece of dialogue. It’s been said that Millington helped with the dialogue on these scenes, giving the benefit of her time soaking up bitchy repartee from other ‘performers’, and although some of them don’t carry it off that well, the words themselves seem very authentic. Millington was still making a better go of things when Queen of the Blues was lensed, and he puts most of her younger rivals to shame, which isn’t bad for a woman who knew that—in one way or another—her time was short.
As the chief heavy, we have dear old Felix Bowness. We always wanted to grab the little bastard by his shirt-collars for that annoying way he would mouth off at the camera during the end credits of every episode of Hi-De-Hi[i]. Maybe we saw too many 80s sitcoms, but Bowness really rubbed us up the wrong way in this one, coming off as both irritating and wooden, which is some sort of triumph. His performance is so lifeless that it’s almost as though his fee was a blowjob from one of the girls, but the producers made the mistake of filming his scenes immediately afterwards, and the result is as awkward as the aftermath of a marriage proposal during sex.
There are few instances where you can get away with a line of dialogue as sexist as: [i]’Cor, look at that!’ in a movie, and it’s tried here by Bowness. He and Milton Reid are ogling the strippers during their routines, lustfully planning out which one they are going to make an offer they can’t refuse—not matter how much they kick and punch. Bowness proves that you need a great deal of suave to make that line work, and he doesn’t have it. It’s a tricky one to pull off, and from memory, the only instance it being delivered successfully was by Windsor Davies in Carry on Behind.
An element of danger has always set the world of stripping aflame, igniting primal desires within mankind as a woman imperils herself for the gratification of the audience, and the 1970s nature of Queen of the Blues presents an opportunity to do so unique to its’ decade. One of the dancers combines the spectacle of fire-eating in her routine, and whilst this might be thrilling enough, the intensity is double-dipped by the prospect of her bushy pubic hair going up in a moments’ carelessness. Ever wondered why Brazilians are so popular among strippers these days?
Even Mary Millington has a little trouble with her zipper when performing a routine, and whilst this might not seem like much, it’s pretty disastrous for a stripper. Her fastening gets her into more trouble than Peter Wyngarde and George Michael combined. Given that this was to be Millington’s final film released before her untimely death, it almost seems disrespectful to intersperse her routine with dialogue sequences as she pumps her heart out on the stage.
Whilst we are pointing out flaws in the movie, one which is only subtle managed to stick in our collective craw. The film opens with the club in full swing, with a poster on the wall proclaiming ’Mary, Queen of the Blues’. A couple of scenes later, the Carter Bros proudly proclaim the new name of their establishment: The Blues Club. It’s a golden rule to always check your timeline whilst writing.
On the same subject, Queen of the Blues furnishes the viewer with a continuity error which Ed Wood might have blushed at. A car arrives at the club during the evening, shrouded in moonlight, and two guys get out of the car. We then cut to a reverse, and the action has miraculously switched to broad daylight. As if to proudly confirm suspicions, it cuts back to the previous angle during the evening once again. From looking at it, they didn’t get the coverage they needed first time around, and set up a reverse to get better shots of the cast, but forgot to put have it day-for-night, leaving the disparity glaringly obvious.
A grand tradition of vaudeville is kept alive by the movie, that of stealing jokes from other performers. Kenny Everett had a really funny one about how a woman takes on the qualities certain countries as she ages—e.g: when in her 40’s she’s like Africa—dark and mysterious, etc. It ends with her 60s being akin to Australia: everyone knows where it is, but nobody wants to go there. East pilfers this routine, although changing the punch line to lesser effect. Bob Hope earned the nickname of ‘the thief of bad-gags’ for his wholesale looting of others’ acts, but whilst East isn’t in the same league, it’s nice to see the spirit kept alive. Still, there’s no guarantee where Everett got the joke from in the first place.
The low-budget, shoot-and-run nature of the project is revealed in a number of instances, with one piece in particular standing out. A couple frequenting the club have some back-and-forth banter, setting up for a punch line at the end of the sequence. This is all well and good, but the haphazard staging sees the final line left almost inaudible as one of the onstage acts ends and the patrons applaud over his efforts.
When it comes to the aforementioned patrons, we’re all for audience participation when it comes to live entertainment, but we’re baffled at the sight of naked women in the audience of the club. Fans of The Rocky Horror (Picture) Show will dress as their favourite characters whilst watching from the stalls, but we’re at a loss to explain just why women would feel the urge to do the same thing at a strip-show. We’re certainly not against it, just confused!!
The Blues Club is haunted by a ghost during the final ten minutes, making way for a gag about the ghost being the source of phantom pregnancies. While the haunting is too phoney to be anything other than a prank, we still can’t believe they missed the opportunity for a joke about the girls involving putting having the willies up them!
With the repetitive nature of some of the acts—the wee lassie who risks life-and-groin with her fire-eating routine appears twice—you’d be forgiven for expecting to see The Muppet Show’s Statler and Waldorf sitting in a booth slugging back overpriced, watered-down drinks...
’She’s better watch out with that fire she’s breathing—those pubes could set the whole place alight!’
‘As long as it stops the rest of the acts coming on…!’
‘Haw, haw haw haw!’
And cue Zoot with a blast on the saxophone.
Existentialist viewers will doubtless delve into the darkest recesses of their mind to make sense of the goings-on in the club, and we have pondered this very thing ourselves. Being aficionados of most things Ed Wood, we were reminded of the Wood-penned movie Orgy of the Dead, where a couple of hapless lovers are forced to endure the tortures of the damned, via the medium of a middling striptease acts. OK, maybe it’s more like the vision of Hell in Hellbound: Hellraiser II, where we see the writhing bodies of nubile women flaunting themselves, only to vanish when the tormented soul tries to make a movie on them. No? What about the end of Amicus’ The Vault of Horror, where the events you have witnessed is played out night after night as penance for wicked crimes committed during life? Your choice on this one…
Queen of the Blues is almost a love letter to burlesque, that adult form of variety, where the acts are interspersed with comedy and other forms of entertainment, and sometimes in this case, when the striptease acts aren’t going down so well. With hard-core taking over the rest of the world, there must have been a concerted effort to get some cinematic mileage from it before it disappeared forever. If it wasn’t saddled with a plot, Queen of the Blues could almost have been the British equivalent of Teaserama, or Varietease.
Odeon have seen fit to include Queen of the Blues as merely an extra to Confessions From The David Galaxy Affair, but they could have easily released it on its own as the final movie of Mary Millington. The image quality is not exactly wonderful and couldn't possibly compete with the main feature, but it is on a par with Emmanuelle in Soho, and the audio is OK, too. It really is a gift to fans of 70s British ‘porn’ to be given this as bonus material.
We’ll finish up on Queen of the Blues with some words from John M East (via the routine of Max Millar): ’When roses are red, they’re ready for plucking. When a girl is sixteen, she’s ready for…’.
Trying getting away with that these days. The joke, too.
Arabian Knights: Photographer, filmmaker and pornographer George Harrison-Marks directed this short and sweet hard-core skin-flick, which sadly has had the second-half removed due to content. Originally running at around fifteen minutes, Arabian Knights was filmed at a hotel and featured actor Milton Reid in the role that destroyed his acting career—thankfully, he didn't take part in the hard-core stuff). Rosemary England also appeared in this one, along with a nice, rotund BBW who gets her kit off with the rest of the bevy of beauties. Aside from the talent on-screen, it's amazingly poor stuff. It's a pity that Odeon didn't try their luck with the BBFC on this one—only the first seven minutes are here—but it's unlikely that it would have been passed uncut; it would have been more acceptable to have fogged (Japanese style) certain parts of the screen during the hard-core scenes. To just feature the first half of something is pretty disappointing.
Image Gallery: From the personal collection of author and spokesperson for the Dirty Mac Brigade, Simon Sheridan, a barrage of posters, photographs and other promotional material for Confessions From the David Galaxy Affair are presented for your viewing pleasure. It's nice to see the original UK Hokushin video cover—that takes us back. Some of the more scuzzy images that were used to sell the film in Paul Raymond's jizz mags are also featured here, along with numerous pictures of Rosemary England, whom Raymond was trying to market as the successor to Mary Millington. It's also fascinating to look at the kind of misleading bollocks that was used to market Queen of the Blues—a couple of posters scream ‘The sex secrets of Hamburg come alive on film!’ That one has us scratching our heads and leads us to believe that the Trades Descriptions Act wasn't quite as watertight then as it is now.
Trailers: Previews for the usual suspects on the Slap and Tickle label are presented for your viewing and potential purchasing pleasure. They're all great fun and we don't tire of seeing them.
Booklet: As with Come Play With Me and Emmanuelle in Soho, a booklet with notes by Simon Sheridan is included to enhance and enrich the experience by giving you a huge amount of background information on the production. We strongly urge fans of this particular sub-genre to check out his weighty tome, Keeping the British End Up—Four Decades of Saucy Cinema.
Confessions From the David Galaxy Affair is wildly uneven (and that includes the lead actor's performance), but there is much to enjoy, with enough nudity to keep those into that sort of thing amusing and some entertaining performances from the cast. The main plot is muddied and not sufficiently resolved in a satisfying manner, but that really is secondary to the main reason why people would want to watch this particular film and the sterling work that the folks at Odeon have put into the film's restoration makes it all the more appealing to watch it and soak up all those late seventies vibes.
Review by Wilson Bros
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 12th July 2010
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0
Extras: Queen of the Blues, Arabian Knights, Image Gallery, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Willy Roe
Cast: Alan Lake, Glynn Edwards, Anthony Booth, Mary Millington, Diana Dors
Length: 90 minutes
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