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Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Review – I’m Not Feeling Myself Tonight

My notes on this piece of British smut.

‘What’s a lovely young girl like you doing in a dreadful sex institute like this?’

Yes, it’s a British sex comedy from 1975 – and, great-looking DVD transfer aside, has little to offer beyond an all-time-great fnarr fnarr title, the spectacle of some distinguished British actors getting embarrassed around naked dolly-birds and the kind of sexual politics which make you wonder if Mrs Mary Whitehouse – parodied here as frustrated matron ‘Mary Watchtower’ (Geraldine Hart), turned into a gin-swigging libertine by a zap-gun – didn’t have a point after all.

Jon Pigeon (genre fixture Barry Andrews), the sort of loser who moans ‘who would fancy me?’ to his even-bigger-dork best mate Keith (Billy Hamon), is so incapable that when, in the opening sequence, a blonde (Mary Maxted, soon to be Mary Millington) gives him a come-on he winds up ogling as she gets it on with a balding workman in the street. Jon works at one of those sex research institutes which only exist in films like these, but ignores the naked women doing exercises on stationary bikes in order to pine over Cheryl (Sally Faulkner), the p.a. of his irascible boss (James Booth). Unable to get anywhere with the girl, Jon invents AGNES – a sonic device which turns people into uncontrollable sex maniacs: at the same time in Canada, David Cronenberg was making Shivers, in which a similar scientific advance leads to the horrific collapse of society, but here it’s just sped-up comedy orgies no one feels violated after being forced into (screenwriter David McGillivray appears at a party scene, telling a blonde ‘your dress is coming off’ before ripping it away – he manages this without getting his face onscreen). The silly sex ray has the same effect as the tablet in The Love Pill and a perfume in She’ll Follow You Anywhere – in none of these films, is it suggested that using a drug/machine to force someone to have sex is, like, well, you know, wrong.

It has a bitter edge, with Jon’s zap-gun accidentally prompting Cheryl to ‘pleasure’ an unappealing old janitor (Chic Murray) and the hero raped several times by a buxom blonde temp (Katya Wyeth). There are an unusual number of limpwristed gay gags (Keith calls up his parents – both also played by Hamon – to ask them if they think he’s ‘a poove’), cash-the-cheque guest turns from Rita Webb, Graham Stark, Ben Aris and Bob Godfrey, a sex lecture/orgy/western parody barroom brawl finale in Blazing Saddles mode (climaxing – if that’s the word – with a bucket of beer poured over two cat-fighting nude girls), many elaborate undergarments and the sort of 1975 male fashions which even the script has to admit are eye-abusively hideous. Joe McGrath, a few years on from The Magic Christian, directs with contempt. The girls all look like they come from the Knave layouts used as art direction: Heather Deeley, Gennie Nevinson, Juliette King, Sally Harrison, Jo Peters, Penny Croft (a traffic warden who ravages her policeman boyfriend in the street with many an obvious truncheon and ‘anything you say will be taken down’/’knickers’ jokes), Andrea Lawrence, Pat Astley and Monika Ringwald.

Here’s the earworm theme song from Cy Paine.

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Discussion

One thought on “Review – I’m Not Feeling Myself Tonight

  1. Chris Cooke Great review, Kim. There’s always something weird about the slumming it comedy writers, directors and actors/comedians, who had little other avenues to turn to but were keen for a cheque who appear in these films… I am glad to hear that this quite horrible sounding film has a bitter edge to it… would have been great of they’d added those turd like parasites from Shivers in there too though – just to disturb.

    Steve Bray ” The silly sex ray has the same effect as the tablet in The Love Pill and a perfume in She’ll Follow You Anywhere – in none of these films, is it suggested that using a drug/machine to force someone to have sex is, like, well, you know, wrong.”
    I think context matters. Most physical comedy would hurt/injure/maim/kill the poor unlucky protagonist in real life, be we still laugh at a good pratfall. The same is true of this sort of thing. In a fantasy/comedy it’s fantastic/comedic. In a drama it’s rape. Having said that, and without seeing the film, a bitter edge to British comedies is not unusual. I honestly wonder why sometimes?

    Michael Brooke David McGillivray is a very interesting case of someone who had to review many British (s)exploitation films as part of his day job (as deputy editor of the Monthly Film Bulletin, he usually drew the short straw), but it meant that when he moved into screenwriting he’d had an unusually thorough apprenticeship – and his exploitation scripts are amongst the best of the era.

    Posted by kimnewman | December 7, 2017, 11:33 am

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