Wednesday, 21 September 2011



There are numerous mysteries at the heart of this entry in the already mystifying subgenre of British sex comedies. Firstly, how on Earth did writer Christopher Wood get from here to not one but two James Bond films (The Spy Who Loved Me, regarded by many as one of the best, and Moonraker, which isn't but which I do have a fondness for)? It's like being hired to adapt The Godfather on the basis of a couple of episodes of On The Buses. Secondly, how on Earth did Robin Askwith get to be any kind of sex symbol? Granted they were presumably looking for someone unlikely, but with all due respect, surely not THAT unlikely. Thirdly, who let it get this far? This is the fourth of the Confessions saga - after Window Cleaner, Pop Performer and Driving Instructor. (Apparently there would have been more, but the Adventures Of... series picked up where Confessions left off.)

Confessions From A Holiday Camp does, admittedly, do precisely what it says on the tin: the (mainly) sexual antics of the staff and guests at a British seaside holiday camp. Timothy (Askwith) and his mate Sidney (Anthony Booth - and I bet these movies don't get discussed much over the Booth/Blair Christmas dinner) are the entertainment managers, loafing and skiving and generally messing around, until the camp is taken over by former prison warder John Junkin who starts straightening things out. Desperate to keep their cushy jobs, Timothy and Sidney come up with the idea of a beauty contest, but none of the contestants seem to be able to keep their hands off poor Timmy....

Essentially this is nothing more than Carry On Butlins - Anthony Booth's character is actually Sidney Noggett which is a typical Sid James name from the Talbot Rothwell years. By this time the actual Carry Ons had all but ceased after deteriorating rapidly and the ruder, nuder sex comedies with the likes of the legendary Mary Millington, Suzy Mandel and Fiona Richmond were gaining popularity. It's got enough full nudity and softcore coupling to still get it an 18 certificate, and a sprinkling of familiar TV favourites that don't get their clothes off (Bill Maynard, Liz Fraser). But it isn't funny: in all honesty the funniest thing about the film is Lance Percival's comedy homosexual.

It's a product of its time: you could do mincing camp in 1977 but you couldn't do it now. Nor could you include the character of Blackbird, the sole black character in the movie (intriguingly, dubbed by Miriam Margolyes) and the source of now-dubious lines about jungle rhythms and racial tension. I wouldn't say it was homophobic or racist since there's clearly no malice or hatred involved; whatever society's attitudes might be now, they were different back in the seventies. Things change.

Was it funny in 1977? I didn't see it then - I'd guess not very, since most people were presumably there for the plentiful tit and bum action and weren't expecting anything other than the most basic of slapstick and single entendres. Nor, despite the naked women littering the screen, is it particularly sexy (especially when it cuts to Robin Askwith pulling faces). It certainly raises nothing more than .... (wait for it) .... the occasional smirk. If you're going to put nudity into a movie within a narrative context, that context does need to be much better than this. And without the context, it's just porn, and that's even less interesting. The theme song is performed by The Wurzels.


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