This, That and the Other! (UK - DVD R2)
The Wilson Bros have been doing This and That, but they prefer the Other...
As people bored enough at work to have read our stuff in the past will know, we can’t get enough of British smut. We look forward to each and every time a forgotten example of the genre is brought blinking and squinting into the digital age. There was a time in late 80s right through most of the 90s where the 60s sex film was in danger of waking out as video waned in popularity due to SKY and hardcore became easier to get hold of. Naturally, we were cock-a-hoop (oo-er) when copies of This, That and the Other dropped onto our respective doormats, bringing another a distinctly unique example of the genre to those in search of giddy, smutty thrills.
Stanley Long carved out a career in the seventies by producing, writing and directing British adult sex comedies, most notably the Adventures of… series that saw shenanigans that would rival the Confessions movies. Before things reached the bawdy heights (or depths, depending upon your point of view) of the Adventures of… movies, Stanley A Long had spent the sixties building up to these by making movies that were milder than what the seventies would bring about, but still regarded as controversial. Just before the decade that ushered in the three day week, flared trousers and disco, Long made his final film of the sixties— This, That and The Other.
Made at the time when portmanteau films were highly popular—Hell, Amicus were making a living by almost exclusively producing them— This, That and the Other is subtitled ‘A Comedy in Three Parts’, with all three parts featuring a central character desperate to be dive headlong into the warm alluring waters of carnality, each hampered in their efforts by distinctly British flaws in their characters.
Although only occupying the opening segment, This, That and the Other is another British sex comedy about making adult movies, with Eskimo Nell being the best example of the genre. Although this is only touched upon initially, it still firmly qualifies it in this beloved sub-category.
When brushed off by the producer of a movie, Barbara (Vanessa Howard) is determined to nab the lead role in his latest movie about an older woman educating a younger man in the ways of sex. In a bid to secure the part, she decides to sleep with the producers’ son. Said offspring is a budding photographer, and she sees her chance. Dennis Waterman stars as said virginal, inexperienced shutterbug, roped in by the busty beauty to further her career.
She lures him into her swish swinger’s pad, under the pretence of taking a variety of photos for her portfolio, but when as her outfits get more revealing, things get steamier. The initially reluctant Waterman becomes sex-crazed, and before you know it, he’s removing his lens cap and she’s inserting her Dutch one! Will she get the role? We he be so good for her? All we know is that things are going to get ginger!
If the main character and his traits sound familiar, then his ginger, crash-helmet like hair should seal it as him as a dead ringer for Robin Askwith in Carry on Girls a few years later. It’s interesting that Waterman’s character is essentially a forerunner of Askwiths’s Timothy Lea from the Confessions movies—or even Jeremy Bulloch’s Gill Masters in Can You Keep it Up for a Week?
There is something about a buxom, toned mature woman which renders them utterly delectable, and Howard proves this point by donning a series of fetishistic outfits, from the absurd to the truly erection-making. Be it head-to-toe black PVC or a flashing her pits in garment consisting purely of chains, she is just stunning and one for MILF-hunters everywhere.
One the downside, Howard wears one of the most hideous toe-rings known to mankind! It looks as though someone saw the worst possible specimen on the Jewellery Channel, ordered it in the smallest size they had, and stuck it on the end of her foot.
When Waterman gets his freak on and drops his strides to attempt some bedroom fun with the mature minx, we can’t be the only ones who had The Sweeney drift into their heads, with the immortal words: ‘Get your trousers on, you’re nicked!’ springing to mind. It was obvious that she would give in to his ginger charms, and before you know it, he’d be On The Up. This was Waterman in his early ’doesn’t he talk posh’ period and one cannot help but think that he should have had a word with his agent, Jeremy Rent, before accepting this assignment.
The head of the company bankrolling the prospective movie is of indeterminate origin, but this is no attempt to be mysterious, His accent slips like a pensioner stepping on a banana skin on a freshly-waxed linoleum floor, and this comes as almost a throwback to David Gell’s Canadian tones, which graced the narrative to Long’s mondo movie, Primitive London.
This first segment is the only one of the three to feature a twist ending and it’s pretty good one, with fading actress Barbara discovering to her horror that her efforts to get a starring role in a film have all been in vain. Good twist aside, it spends a little too much time goosing the audience before unleashing the trick in its tail. Still entertaining, though.
The second act sees veteran character actor Victor Spinetti as George, a lonely man attempting to commit suicide in his empty home. He’s so bereft of human interaction that he even calls the Speaking Clock for company, but is driven further to end it all when the automated voice stops talking to him. His preferred method of suicide is gas, having taped up the cracks in the front door and has covered both himself and a gas heater in a blanket.
Fate decides to deal him an ace when Angie (Alexandra Bastedo) mysteriously turns up his door (which he has to use force to open, as he has taped it up to prevent gas from escaping), and suddenly George decides that life is for the taking, and he quickly stops her from sparking up a cigarette to stop them being blown to kingdom come from the lingering gas of his attempt to end it all. Angie grabs the wrong end of the stick, thinking that he’s throwing a party with a suicide theme, and before you know it, Spinetti’s house is wall-to-wall with wild, decadent partiers—the sort of people whom you were almost rooting to meet with a grisly fate in Michael Armstrong’s original version of The Haunted House of Horror.
This is our unquestionably favourite section, operating on a higher level than just a sex comedy. There is a touch of Pinter to the writing, with the decision of a lonely man to end his life both trivialised and even mocked by young, ignorant snobs. His suicide note is read out for a giggle, with the poignant words ripped to shreds as he listens to the sum of his life trashed—the only one who isn’t giggling is Angie.
Spinetti—the only actor to have appeared in the cinematic endeavours of both the Beatles and Elvis—has always been professional, regardless of some the crap has had to appear in to pay the bills, but he turns in an excellent performance here that will resonate with anyone who has ever been plunged into the depths of despair by emotional isolation. His isolation from the rest of the world is palpable, and your pendulum of emotion swings wildly between wanting him to actually kill himself to avoid prolonging his misery and hoping that love will somehow find such a lovely, deserving person. It should be pointed out that a friend of ours with a love of the Beatles and an almost obsessive eye for detail looked at this segment and pointed out that Spinetti is almost certainly wearing the same hairpiece that he wore in Help!
Bastedo is also very good, being the only one of the gate-crashing partygoers who has a shred of empathy. She will be instantly recognisable to fans of sixties television as being one of the stars of The Champions. She evens out the parade of arseholes trampling over George’s self-worth, and it takes an actress with confidence to do this without coming across as patronising shallow, particularly when this is done in the face of the decadent party-goers trashing George’s flat, and fans of Trading Places at this point will be urging George to tell his gate-crashing hipsters to ’get the fuck out!’
This segment is very satisfying indeed, and with a real quality of writing which brings to mind Mike Leigh, with an emotional insightfulness which comes completely out of the blue in what is supposed to be a ‘sex film’. The direction is subtle and giving the material to Spinetti was a very wise move, so all elements were in place for some great work. Damn good stuff.
Completing the sexual trilogy is the tale of John Bird (of Bremner, Bird and Fortune, in case you were unaware of him doing anything else) as a cab-driver who picks up a sexually alluring passenger (Yutte Stensgarde), only to have her run off without paying. Determined to get the fare from her, he finds follows her into a house of stunning girls, but even in the face of cracking birds, nothing will stop him from getting the money he’s owed.
As he follows his quarry, he witnesses skinny-dipping girls tearing each others’ clothes off as they frolic in a private pool, not to mention a slow, seductive strip by a stunning temptress. He soon realises that magic is at play, with scantily-clad girls disappearing into thin air, and reappearing just as quickly. It isn’t long before our hapless cabbie is chased out of the house by an army of corkers, who we assume are after a ride…
We’ll be perfectly honest and state that of the three stories, this is the one with the least going for it (though there are those who would say it’s a tie between the first and third as to which is better - like being asked if you prefer being shot of being strangled). For a film with the subtitle of ‘a trilogy of comedy’, there is precious little comedy in the final part. The premise is scant, with the little plot there is stretched out by having Bird aimlessly wander though the house witnessing crumpet at every turn.
There seems to be a conscious effort to endow this final segment to with a sense of pop-art pretentiousness, with bright colours and characters appearing and disappearing through awkward jump-cuts. One could pretentiously argue that this third section could be tackling existentialism and surrealism, but in reality, it’s just a way of trying to show more interesting ways of presenting scantily-clad birds on-screen. This final segment seems like an off-cut from George Harrison Marks’ epic nudie movie, The Nine Ages of Nakedness—almost as though Marks himself thought that having ten ages was too much and said ‘we ‘ad an extra bit, but we ‘ad to cut it out’.
John Bird battles valiantly against a virtually non-existent script (which is more of a premise than a fully fleshed-out screenplay) and it’s nearly impossible to recognise him in both performance and appearance. Though not the first movie on his CV, there are those who would think that he should have given this film the Bird and that he probably wasn’t paid a Fortune for his efforts (please don’t ask us to try and make a play on the name of Bremner because it’s damn-near impossible). During his story, the actor has to fall into a swimming pool—being the old pro he is, he took to this stunt like a Bird to water…
The location for the house in this final segment is so grand and elaborate that we assume that this is probably the abode of one of the investors of the movie, or even the pad of Stanley Long himself, doubtless bought with the profits of a successful exploitation career.
This is a bit of a weak one to end the movie with, but having a limp opener would cause a mass-walkout, a poor second act would achieve the same results, so it was logical to keep it as the finale, with audiences leaving once this particular section was finished anyway.
Any anthology can be affected by the glue which holds the stories together, as anyone who has seen Amicus’ The Vault of Horror almost destroyed by its poor choice (‘my dreams are much more frightening than this!’). The linking material here is rather tenuous, with the best being how the second and third parts interlock. When you’ve seen Dr Terror’s House of Horrors, you’ve been spoiled for running thread. We won’t ruin the one which was chosen for Long‘s film, but we’ll say that the most annoying character gets some of the grief he so richly deserves because of it. We’d have rather seen him dead, but his fate is satisfying enough.
The opening credits will have a warm rush shooting through the veins of aficionados like us, combining (then) exotic shots of planes landing, rough-as-arseholes title cards and a toe-tapping theme song, capturing the essence of the genre and the times it was made.
The appearance of Valerie Leon as ‘Bath Girl’ during this section was a surprise, as we had no idea the Hammer/Hai Karate star was in this one. The woman seems to pop up in everything, as it was only a couple of days ago we saw her as a part of a chorus line in an episode of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)—you know, the version with thespians, pathos and no fart gags. While it’s a real bummer for us all, in keeping with the title of her autobiography—we only see Everything But the Nipple.
The shebang was/is marketed as a wholesale sex film, and although there is much bare flesh on display, there is not all that much in the film that could be genuinely referred to as ‘erotic’ or even ‘sexy’; This, That and the Other is the sort of film made for part-time perverts—the sort of fringe members of the Dirty Mac Brigade who were too timid to venture into the seedy darkness of porno cinemas.
This, That and the Other travelled was re-titled in other markets, most notably being saddled with the bizarre moniker A Promise of Bed. Rumour has it that this film was also re-titled for Yorkshire audiences as This, That and T’other…
Odeon Entertainment presents this cinematic obscurity in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. It has clearly been taken from a print, rather than from the original negative, as it looks pretty beaten up and the beginning and ends of the reels. In spite of the scratches at the points we just mentioned, it looks pretty good throughout the rest of the running time, with the exception of a little judder here and there, but it is quite a clean and clear print, having a nicely strong level of colour, particularly during the garish fantasy sequence of the final segment.
Nothing out of the ordinary to report here, with the monaural sound being pretty much as you would expect it to be—fairly robust, but pretty true to the original limitations of the low budget nature of the film.
Photo Gallery: This is the only specific extras relating to this film. You are presented with around twenty images from the film, including what look like several vintage lobby stills and front-of-house promotional materials. Most of the stills are in black and white, but some colour ones are thrown in for your delectation.
Trailers: The previews for other titles from Odeon Entertainment have been included. Four Pete Walker films are represented here ( Frightmare, Cool it Carol and Die Screaming Marianne), along with Intimate Games, Secrets of Sex and the thoroughly wacky Spaced-Out. A nice selection of trailers that you can have playing to get people in the mood for a party—just be sure to have your keys ready to put in the bowl…
Whilst far from being a forgotten masterpiece, there should be enough in This, That and the Other to keep fans of sixties movies suitably entertained. Even if you are not that taken by the surrounding stories, Victor Spinetti’s performance in the middle segment is more than worth the price of this disc alone. The fashions are something to be seen, the music is very cool, and is in many ways a time-capsule of British cinema. Our thanks to Odeon for bringing a nice copy of it into the digital age.
Review by Wilson Bros
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 22nd February 2010
Disc Type: Single side, single layer
Aspect: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono English
Extras: Photo Gallery, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Derek Ford
Cast: Victor Spinetti, Dennis Waterman, John Bird, Yutte Stensgaard
Length: 78 minutes
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