Spanish Fly, 1976.
Directed by Bob Kellett.
Starring Leslie Phillips, Terry-Thomas, Graham Armitage, Nadiuska, Frank Thornton and Sue Lloyd.
On the Mediterranean island of Minorca, expat Sir Percy de Courcy buys 100,000 gallons of local wine, hoping to sell it at a vast profit. Unfortunately, the wine tastes foul, and when he asks his chauffeur to ‘improve’ the taste, a certain local ingredient finds its way into the bottles, turning it into a potent aphrodisiac!
Ding dong! Right, now that’s out the way, on to the business of reviewing Spanish Fly. During the 60s, as well as plenty of iconic spy flicks and decent thriller coming out of Britain, we also had the impish, playful exploits of the Carry On team. It was all slightly risqué, very tongue in cheek and just a bit cheeky. As the popularity of this sort of comedy waned and the 70s came into being the more risqué comedies became less suggestive and more exploitative. The odd flash of a nipple (normally Barbara Windsor’s) would become full on topless shots during films like Confessions of a Window Cleaner (and the rest of that series of films). It was all a bit more in your face (though pale by today’s standard of course) and lacking in a certain charm from Sid James, Kenneth Williams et al. Spanish Fly, made slap bang in the middle of the 70s, is your standard British tit comedy farce from that period, with the most bare minimum of plot in order to have plenty of opportunity to show ladies with their boobs hanging out the place.
Leslie Phillips (Ding dong! Last time I swear) stars as a middle aged and sexually frustrated cad who runs a lingerie business with his wife. He heads to Spain for a photo shoot with a group of attractive, ample breasted models. There he runs into an old school friend who also happens to be a slightly lecherous cad, played by Terry-Thomas. He’s trying to make money selling a terrible local wine to the locals for a profit. In the process of trying to make it more palatable he and his butler (Graham Armitage) accidentally concoct a love potion that has unexpected side effects.
The film is ridiculous. It’s wafer thin but all harmless entertainment. Phillips and Thomas hardly make for likeable leads, both playing an all too common depiction of upper class middle aged British men of that era. They’re basically a pair of dirty old pervs. That said Phillips has always had a certain charm about him, like say Sid James. There is a certain energy the film has and the silliness of the plot helps, though it lacks the outright corny value that you’d get in a Carry On film. Perhaps it just needed Sid James to come in and cackle, or Kenneth Williams to pop saying “ooooooohhhh!” The odd intrusive cheesy sound effect wouldn’t have gone amiss either.
Boobs aside the film doesn’t particularly offer much in the way of visual stimulation. It’s merely forgettable, lacking any of the memorable moments you’d get in some of the better screwball comedy of the 60s. Despite the best efforts of Phillips and Thomas, who at least seem like they’re enjoying filming out in sunny Spain with good looking women, there’s little in this worth writing a postcard back home about.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★