Monday, 29 October 2012

Adventures Of A Taxi Driver

Brit smut giant Stanley Long only died last month, so it feels slightly nasty to say that his 'Adventures of A Taxi Driver' is just a load of crap. I'm sure Stan could have taken my critique, though, he was never a precious or pretentious man. In fact, I'm sure he would have given me a robust response,  something like this, perhaps.

Yer actual Stanley Long.

The trouble is, I can see what he was trying to do, and, in the sloppy execution and lack of attention to the brief,  where it all went wrong.

'Adventures Of A Taxi Driver' attempts to match elements of the phenomenally successful Robin Askwith 'Confessions...' series with something more earthy and less obviously slapstick, almost a documentary based on the real experiences of London cabbies. The reasoning is, of course, that, like all jobs where you come into contact with the public, there are millions of funny and bizarre true life stories involving sex, drama, crime, life, death - all for free, and all there to string together to make a film, and this is clearly the plan judging from the long narration in the first five minutes. The trouble is, it just doesn't do what it's supposed to. It isn't about taxi drivers, it isn't about real life, it isn't sexy, or funny, or remotely entertaining. It doesn't even keep you occupied for eighty eight minutes. As I said, a load of crap, and I say that as a Stanley Long fan and someone who has come to expect very little from films of this type. 

Our Liz.

The only bit of the film that seems to join these dots is a vignette featuring the indefatigable and very sexy Liz Fraser. Liz plays a prostitute who uses cabs to ply her trade - a quick once around the block while she services her clients. She chatters and gossips away, all the while ignoring the city type in the back with his cock out ('get yourself started, dear, I'll be with you in a minute'). Eventually, she starts giving the punter a blow job, only to nearly bite off his boner when interrupted by a sudden slamming of the brakes outside a cinema showing, yep, 'Jaws'. It's not exactly the greatest story ever told, but you can imagine it happening and, with a bit of embellishment, getting one hell of a laugh in a cafe or a pub. Sadly, the rest of the bits of business just don't work even as anecdotes - they come across as the disjointed bullshit of the bloke who nothing ever happens to, but makes up stories to try and fit in. Everyone knows it's rubbish, of course, and everyone thinks he's a sad tit.  

Dors! A regular popper upper in shit like this.

Robert Lindsay omits this from his CV now he thinks he's a proper actor.

Wall of smut. Ten times more erotic than anything else in the film.
Anna Bergman.

She always looks slightly defiant and a bit pissed off.

Faux kidnap.

Faux lady.

The reveal.

I don't know if Stanley actually met with any London cabbies but, if he did, they must have been a dull bunch as the narrative of the film is so bland and repetitive it makes 'Confessions Of A Window Cleaner' look like 'Inception'. What we're left with is long, loose, dull scenes of pathetic banter, the odd tit, lots of mild sex scenes interrupted by husbands or, in one case, a python called Monty, and a lead actor who you'd like to poke in the eye just to stop him winking.  


The winker is Barry Evans, a fresh faced actor who had been playing juvenile leads since the mid sixties. Evans is so relentlessly smug it makes you sick. Robin Askwith was clever enough to make his Timmy Lea character a hapless idiot, a low IQ buffoon who just blundered into situations that led him into having sex all the time. Evans' Joe North is just a really smarmy, jammy git - he's actually quite despicable - you look forward to him crashing his cab or, in a scene where he is 'hijacked' by some excited party goers, that the fellow with the gun would pull the trigger.


'Well, I had to, really, didn't I?' 

Go on, mate, do it!

In a bitter twist of fate, Evans dropped out of show business after his big hit show 'Mind Your Language' was cancelled (for the second time) in 1986 and, eventually, started working as, yes, a taxi driver. He got in with a bad crowd and died in mysterious circumstances (could have been murder, could have been suicide) in 1997. 



Evans' best known film was probably 'Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush', a 1967 coming of age (i.e. boy wants to lose virginity) film set in Stevenage. His co-stars in this swinging little sex comedy included Judy Geeson, Adrienne Posta and Angela Scoular, all present here.

It's quite depressing to see them all together again, nearly ten years on and still pretending to be sex crazed kids. Only their lined faces and tired eyes give them away. Geeson has the best reason to be here, I suppose, as she keeps her clothes on (despite playing a stripper) and was Evans real life girlfriend at the time; the ever shrill Posta does what she does best - she get on your tits, and poor old Angela Scoular is forced to do her jolly hockey sticks sex pot routine (see also 'Casino Royale') and has to undergo the indignity of an awkward nude scene and a bowl haircut. Angela killed herself last year after drinking drain cleaner. It's a shit business.

'Stay exactly like that, Barry, we just need one more take for the German market'.

'Adventures' was hugely successful, but Evans declined to return for the two sequels, stating that he 'didn't want to get typecast in sex comedies' (with the exception of 'Under The Doctor' which he made immediately afterwards). Let's just say he was not always the best judge of what was good for him.



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