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The sixties and seventies proved a golden age for satire; The Frost Report and That Was The Week That Was were huge hits on television and on the stage, whilst Beyond the Fringe had played to packed houses both in the West End and across the pond on Broadway.  One of the team at the epicentre of this satirical explosion was Marty Feldman, an established comedy writer/performer who had his distinctive eyes set on the big screen...

Shedding the confines of television, Feldman's first cinematic starring role sees him as advertising executive Teddy Brown, a loving family man given the unenviable task of trying to make McLaughlin’s  Frozen Porridge sexy in order to boost flagging sales. This almost insurmountable task is made even more difficult when his wife Liz (Judy Cornwell) becomes involved with a religious-based “clean up television” brigade, with anything causing trouser-arousal firmly in their sights!

"You need protein for working out - might I suggest eggs?"

Director Jim Clark's Every Home Should Have One satirises the “ad game”, and favours a caricatured look at how the advertising industry worked at the time, although Stanley Long's Primitive London parodied the ridiculous nature of advertising in an equally exaggerated manner five years earlier.  The premise here is to “think dirty” in order to get the public to buy a product, but the nature of the business these days has since shifted then, being a much younger person's game than it used to be.  Most of the people in the ad-game are under the age of forty, and the emphasis is now to “think adolescently”, with puerile depictions of people feeling epic about saving money on their car insurance capturing the imaginations of idiots across the land. Though both McLaughlin's frozen porridge and car insurance are utterly mundane things to promote, the former was a work of satire in a work of fiction, whereas the results of the latter are depressingly real. All things considered, we'll stick with thinking dirty, thanks.

Starting as it means to go on with an opening credit sequence which must have been perilously close to litigation from so many leading brands - not least of which being Kellogg‘s - as genius animator Richard Williams takes us on a whistle-stop tour of the business of advertising, parodying products instantly recognisable even to this day. The theme song to accompany these  breathtaking – and piss-taking – animated visuals is performed by That Was The Week That Was star Millicent Martin, coming as no surprise given that the movie was produced by satire supremo Ned Sherrin.

The genius of the writing is in evidence from the outset, introducing Feldman’s family via a sequence highlighting the clash of the idealism in what is presented by advertising (jingles, animated characters, etc)  against the reality of consumerism (useless, cumbersome gadgets like automated teasmaids) showcasing the protagonists in a way which sets the tone for the rest of the film: that advertising is on strictly nodding terms with reality. Both aforementioned concepts usually don't fare too well when going head-to-head with each other, the calamitous results being not unlike a head-on train-collision, with the radius of the resulting wreckage alarmingly wide.  Proving the point wonderfully is a spoof of Alka Seltzer, targeted with dead-on accuracy as Richard Williams blends live action and animation every bit as ingeniously as he did in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.  Who says expository has to be dull?

Judy Cornwell really WAS a bit of alright back then!

Snapping at Feldman’s heels are the members of the England Clean, England Strong brigade, lead by vicar Geoffrey Mulish (Dinsdale Landon),  a drooling, sex obsessed puritan who has his eye firmly fixed on the wife of our hapless advertising exec, secretly trying to woo her away for a dirty weekend.   The randy rev feels compelled to watch everything sexual purely for the sake of morality, much like the character played by Jonathon Adams in the seminal British exploitation satire, Eskimo Nell.  The rest of the band are a familiar bunch of satirical archetypes, including Francis De La Tour, in what was her first screen appearance, playing a timid, naïve waif, keenly helping to keep records of all filth on TV, he documentation of which takes place at Teddy’s house to watch it, as they all refuse to own a television set.

One of the funniest pieces in the film is the latest target of their ire, a sequence which should guarantee its place in British movie history, being the hilarious parody of sixties biker documentaries, complete with every cliché and stereotype they could come up with, as though filtered through Alf Garnett sensibilities. Naturally, Feldman daydreams his way into it, having a bit of how’s-yer-father with a young chick in a junkyard. In mid ravage, he turns to the camera and declares: “nine out of ten randy bastards prefer McLaughlin’s Frozen Porridge”. Brilliant!   Right on the money (again!) is a colourful parody of Hammer movies, with Feldman sitting in on the England clean, England Strong society as they take notes on the depravity unfolding in front of them. Our sex-crazed ad-man daydreams a commercial for McLaughlin, increasing the décolletage and ramping up the sex in a way which must have made Terrence Fisher proud, as the porridge is declared “Bloody good!” It’s pretty funny, and certainly not the first time Feldman has been confronted by Frankenstein, young or otherwise.

Feldman’s daydreams also treat us to a perfect parody of silent movie melodrama, with all elements faithfully in place. What makes it so authentic is that it was made by people who saw such things in their youth, and strove to faithfully reproduce the style, setting it far apart from modern recreations of the same, coming off as merely sketchy parodies in themselves based on other parodies. This is also an interesting pre-curser to his appearance in the “Sloth” segment of The Magnificent 7 Deadly Sins the following year, which also used the silent movie format.

Well, it was the period when yellow leather coats were popular...

With Batman Vs Superman under-performing in cinemas around the world as we write, it’s satisfying that when it comes to the titanic tag-team scrap between DC’s two biggest characters, Every Home Should Have One got there first, with Richard Williams giving a very abstract version of the battle between the crime fighters. Though there is JUST enough of a distinction between the actual Dark Knight and Man of Steel and the animated variations seen in the extended dream sequence – which depicts various battles between Teddy and the randy puritan who is determined to have it away with his wife - one still wonders how the hell they were able to get away with such an audacious and blatant thing.

The whole thing culminates with Feldman racing to take down the randy rev and save his marriage, and it’s all part of the oddest climax to a movie you have ever seen!  What’s funnier than a bunch of furious little-people dressed as the Seven Dwarves?  How about when they all drive around in a van shaped like a giant tube of “SnoWhite” toothpaste?  What makes the ridiculous situation funnier still is when Teddy and wife Liz “borrow” the van and the bad-tempered little people set off in pursuit of their stolen vehicle by hailing a taxi and exclaiming in a shrill, high-pitched voice “follow that toothpaste tube!”  Also during this colourful climactic chase, any one of the literally hundred of people to have seen Sam Raimi’s career pothole Crimewave might get a sense of deja-vu when Feldman flees the aforementioned baddie through a series of doors to nowhere. It's a clever sequence and one has to wonder if a teenaged Raimi saw this film when it was eventually released in the U.S. in 1978 under the title Think Dirty...

The script by Marty Feldman, Barry Took (Feldman's frequent writing partner), and Dennis ( It'll Be Alright on the Night) Norden features many archetypes and situations that would crop up many of their respective works throughout their careers, with scene featuring the picky Jewish head of an au-pair agency having Norden's fingerprints all over it. All three of them were always keen to satirise the make-believe and artificiality of television and film (especially the Golden Age of Hollywood) and the climax sees Feldman tearing through a television studio, batting with the lecherous Vicar Landen. In a brisk Errol Flynn parody, Feldman commendably does all his own stunts as he chases up a flight of stairs whilst jumping over approaching danger in a manner you could only describe to a modern(ish) audience as a precursor to Donkey Kong. He takes a good few uncomfortable tumbles and hits, but doesn’t whine and bitch they way modern stars would.

Yes, the US posters were that bad...

Though most people only know Marty Feldman from his wonderfully memorable performance in Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein, he enjoyed a very prolific career, which saw him writing for television and radio with his writing partner, Barry Took ( Round The Horne is a personal favourite of your humble reviewers). He was the co-author and co-performer of the Four Yorkshiremen sketch that went on to be popularised by Monty Python and starred in several comedy shows in the late sixties and early seventies. He also turned his hand to directing, before a combination of heavy smoking, a dairy-heavy diet, too much black coffee and a bout of shellfish-related food poisoning during the film of Yellowbeard in Mexico conspiring to rob the world of a great talent at the comparatively young age of 48 in 1982.

Kids are a difficult thing to get right in a movie, as they can either be obnoxious (see any number of Sylvia Young brats for proof) or not very good (Anthony Walters’ Tiny Tim being the only weak link in the otherwise superb 1984 A Christmas Carol) but they get it just right here. Gary Miller has the perfect combination of innocence and self-awareness as Feldman‘s son Richard, complete with the worrying pastime of collecting knickers and pressing them in his photo album. Feldman tiptoes around the subject before telling him that such a hobby is wrong, as “…it’s involved with sex. Do you know what sex is?” Without a trace of licentiousness, he innocently replies: “Oh sure…what’s ‘involved’ mean?” It’s a damned shame that he wasn’t in more than he was, but even more tragic that Miller died at the age of 53 after hitting his head in an accident..  Master Miller also plays a part in demonstrating how ahead of the rest some elements of the film were - it had the “damn vegetables” gag from the Simpsons over 20 years before Matt Groening’s bullpen of Harvard graduates wrote it, only this time around it comes when a boys’ mother tells his father (Feldman) about his calling the Jolly Green Dandruff Giant a “ponce”.

Statuesque Scandanavian Hammer actress Julie Ege is the au-pair who is the object of Teddy's desires and one fantasy sequence features both Ege AND Feldman naked, which is certainly eye-opening to say that least. One the other and other end of the scale – and proving that she didn’t spring from the earth in a middle-class garden for The Good Life - is Penelope Keith as a Teutonic au-pair girl, setting up a raft of culturally insensitive jokes from the dubbing on of goose-stepping as she walks to Feldman addressing her gruff manner with the words: “So that’s what happened to Martin Boorman…”

Be sure to keep an eye out for respected Beyond The Fringe star,, News-Corp hater and Family Guy guest star Alan Bennett popping up during the closing scene as a lawyer, almost playing a caricature of himself. For whatever reason, the master of the monologue – and one of the main instigators of the tidal wave of biting British satire of the sixties - chose not to have his name on the credits.

If  we had to be brutal and pick out a flaw, then it’s that it seems to forget the entire premise of thinking dirty just over half way through, choosing to concentrate on the morality campaign out to get our lust-crazed ad-man, and the efforts of the head of the protesters efforts to get Feldman‘s wife in the sack.  Laughs are not sacrificed when making a sharp left in the script, and it all sets up the aforementioned chase which will have you laughing heartily as you question if you are actually seeing the seven dwarves chasing after a giant toothpaste tube.  With images as wonderful as this, the transfer has to be right on the money to appreciate them.  Is this new HD master up to the challenge?  Let’s find out…

"Can you tell me EXACTLY what's down the low road before I take it?"

Video


Every Home Should Have One was an oddity that occasionally popped up on late night television here in the UK, with the last time being around 15 years ago if our memory serves and the film always looked somewhat rough. Network – as part of  “The British Film” collection initiative to bring 450 films to DVD & Blu-ray – has released Every Home Should Have One in a new transfer from the original archive materials.

The results certainly blow away the prints previously seen on television and video; there is little in the way of damage to the print (though inevitably, the optical compositing of the scenes with animation and live-action look a little speckled) and the image is wonderfully stable. The image is presented in 1.78:1 (and not 1.66:1 as advertised) and if there was any criticism that could be made as far as the image quality is concerned, it would be that it doesn't look as vibrant as we were expected, with a fairly drab colour pallet for something filmed at the tail-end of swinging sixties. Generally, it looks pretty damn good!

Audio


Not much to say, really – the soundtrack for the film is presented in PCM 2.0 and it's clean and vibrant with occasional moments of low frequency punch that can surprise. It appears to be a faithful uncompressed representation of what this film originally sounded like in cinemas over four decades ago.

Extras


Theatrical Trailer: Presented – presumably also sourced from the original elements -  is the theatrical trailer for Every Home Should Have One. Clocking in at over three minutes, this highlights many of the visual gags and even makes a point of using Marty's distinctive eyes to help sell the film. It also uses the fact that this was his feature film debut and that it was a new medium that he was set to conquer.

Image Gallery: There are a couple of US posters for the movie, under the more obvious title of “Think Dirty”. It’s pretty irritating that it sat unreleased over there until 1978, when his appearances in Young Frankenstein, Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother and Silent Movie finally got distributors interested. The dicks slapped a banner on the poster proclaiming that Marty Feldman was “back”.

Textless Material: Clocking in at just over a minute, this has the dream sequence with Feldman and Julie Ege presented without the English subtitles for the Swedish dialogue. It's an interesting little addition that obviously turned up when the original film elements were being examined.

Easter Egg: Though not mentioned anywhere, if you press “play” and use the chapter search to go backward, you are presented with the original on-screen BBFC certificate for the film, which was passed with an “X” rating, by the way. It's a nice little touch.

In God he tru$ts...

Overall:


Though Marty Feldman made numerous appearances in movies over the decade or so he worked in the medium, Every Home Should Have One is probably the only one where he was unquestionably the star of the film, rather than just being part of an ensemble. Though this was his first lead role, he’s a genuine wonder to watch and makes the most of the amusing script he co-wrote with Took & Norden.  Political correctness be buggered, it’s the closest thing to a Surrealist comedy Britain ever produced, and we certainly plant it firmly into the category of “inspired”.  We first saw it in the late 80s on a late-night screening on BBC1, and we’ve had a blast with this superlative presentation.

Network are to be commended for bringing this little-seen treasure back into the public arena via remastering the original film elements. Every home should have a copy – it's a great laugh and serves as testament that there was so much more to Marty than just having the hump.

An excellent package.

Whet your appetite here:

* Note that the images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray image quality.


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Media Copyright Acknowledgement (Fair Use) Piss off. Do your own work.