Saturday, 12 May 2012



Martin Campbell may well be a top Hollywood A-list director these days, helming huge-budget studio movies with big name stars, ranging from Mel Gibson action thrillers to superhero comicbook nonsense, a couple of Zorro movies and not one but two reboots of the James Bond series, but let us never forget that, just as Peter Jackson started out making schlocky zombie comedies over the weekends and Sam Raimi kicked off his career with The Evil Dead, so Campbell's first two movies were low-grade British smut. Sadly, while Eskimo Nell was reasonably enjoyable twaddle about some likeable but deluded idiots trying to make it in the low-budget movie industry, this earlier film is nowhere near as entertaining and occasionally lapses into what, in the more enlightened 21st century, comes across as grotesquely misjudged bad taste.

The Sex Thief is long-haired David Warbeck: successful pulp novelist by day, cat burglar by night. His gimmick is to pick on women living alone, and if he's discovered then he seduces his victim so energetically that she is compelled to give false descriptions to the police. But then a talentless American starlet announces falsely that The Sex Thief had visited her and raped her seven times, prompting him to live up to his publicity and have his (consensual) way with her, while the police sit in another room getting paralytically drunk and trading bestiality porn with journalists. Can insurance investigator Diane Keen (presumably in a riff on The Thomas Crown Affair) take The Sex Thief down?

It's grubby, it's boring, it's hideously dated, it's horribly sexist, it's not remotely funny and, without wanting to sound too ungallant, the numerous floozies constantly besporting themselves ain't all that much to write home about (with the exception of Diane Keen). As a plot The Sex Thief is charmless nonsense, while as a snapshot of sexual attitudes nearly four decades back it's slightly shocking but I like to think we've improved matters over the years. As usual with this type of film, spotting familiar faces is one of the main attractions: there are frankly slim pickings on this occasion but, in a perhaps unfortunate twist of fate, the role of Lord Prescott is played by Christopher Biggins.


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