Monday, 6 February 2012

Secrets Of A Door To Door Salesman

'Secrets Of A Door to Door Salesman' is an odd film - shambolic and rambling, full of knackered old jokes and hackneyed situations, but it has a gentle, benevolent humour at its core and, despite the fact that it is most definitely a smut film, it lacks the leering, occasionally unpleasant full on nature of many of its contemporaries. I won't say it's a 'feel good film', but it at least doesn't leave you feeling slightly dirty and disappointed in yourself.

David hunting for a new job.

David (Brendan Price) is a lobster fisherman in Cornwall with a cracking looking girlfriend and a very easy pace of life. When his Dad drowns at sea, Brendan sells his share in the business to his brother and heads for London to seek his fortune, stopping only to buy an antiquated japlopy and a change of underwear. He's going to need it. Soon after arriving, he finds himself esconsed in a house full of women, all of whom quite fancy having a nibble at his bait. Interestingly, though, David doesn't go through them like Timmy Lea would do, instead he makes lasting friendships with them, forming a makeshift family unit. Yes, there's the odd flash of arse, a few attempted seductions and some heavy innuendo but, given the set up, it's a fairly wholesome arrangement.

Attempted Porn Star.
The female lead in this film within a film gives a subtle, nuanced peformance.

She is also very enthusiastic.
After a brief tryout as a porn star, David gets a job as a vacuum cleaner salesman. I know what you're thinking - 'here we go'. But David doesn't shag everyone lonely housewife he meets, even when they desperately want him to, so, subsequently, doesn't really sell any vacuum cleaners. The scenario, of course, lends itself to any number of dramatic and comedic vignettes, and the film makers get as much in as they can, rarely bothering to try and move the plot forward. It may sound pretentious, but the whole thing reminds me slightly of an 18th century novel - full of incident, full of humour, but without the emphasis on narrative and 'meaning' - like 'Tristram Shandy', the diversions and discursions are what its all about, not the chronological events shown.

Sci fi dust busting solution.

Woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

The day to day struggle of the Salesman.

I just have a suitcase on the top of my wardrobe.

'What is the secret of your success with men?'.
In my experience, most smut films have several 'I beg your pardon?' moments of genuine bizarro surrealism. In this film it's a trip to a nightclub called 'Cheekee Petes' where the waitresses are topless and the guests like to go go go go go. What sort of entertainment would this sort of swinging establishment book, do you think? A turned on, hip swivelling singer? A stripper? A black woman who covers herself in unguent and fiddles with herself (see 'Escort Girls')? No, of course not, they'd hire an adolescent girl who looks like Robin Gibb and sings a maudlin song about existential loneliness that stops the party dead in its tracks.

In the end, David wins over the girl of his dreams (the au pair from Kiev with a troubled past) and they get in his vintage car and drive back to Cornwall and the slow, quiet life. It's rather moving and, in the limited syntax of the modern argot, we all feel like we've been on a real journey.

As a postscript, no look at this film would be complete without mentioning that it was slated to be the directorial debut of Oscar winning Jonathan Demme, but he fell out with the producers after filming the opening scenes and went back to America to carry on working with Roger Corman. His next film was 'Caged Heat'.

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