Hits And Near Misses – a look back at those Confessions movies

In another stroll down Memory Lane, perhaps better named as Mammory Lane on this occasion, it’s a fond and retrospective nod to those old slapstick softcore movies that were on a par in the seventies with the Carry On films, though the Confessions quadcore had more revelations, full nudity for one thing (in the case of the ladies) but the success of these productions was built on that same saucy seaside, titter titter, “No sex please, we’re British!” vogue and of course a natural wide-eyed curiosity for these ‘all rather adult’ flicks.

A few years back I managed to download all four of them for free and here I’ve produced a thirty minute montage of those softcore scenes, the naughty bits, the funniest bits – knickers and knockers galore, which I hope will please the viewer.

Across the four movies the staple actors and actresses were Anthony Booth, Bill Maynard, Peter Cleall, Windsor Davies and Doris Hare, in fact Confessions From A Holiday Camp is rather like a remake of Holiday On The Buses.

I’ve not watched all of these films in entirety though Ive probably seen enough. Just surprised I’ve never come across Sally Thomsett or Paula Wilcox – if they weren’t in these movies then maybe they were busy doing other things.

Words now from Nigel Burton at the Northern Echo on Robin Askwith and there are quite a few of them so grab a cuppa!

Forty years ago Robin Askwith’s career had become a pretty good metaphor for the entire British film industry taking in, as it did, horror, sex and television sit-com spin-offs. Confessions of a Window Cleaner was the most successful film in UK cinemas in 1974 – and the critics hated it. Askwith, who took the job to keep paying the bills, came to be defined by the Confessions series. He appeared in four – although it seems like more due to the number of cheap, er, knock-offs with similar names – and spent the next decade trying to live them down.

Forty years later the Confessions series, and a handful other sexploitation films, have undergone a critical reappraisal. The same newspapers whose contemptuous critics once dismissed them as tawdry tat, now hail them as important ‘social documents’ of public tastes in the 1970s.

Kicking back with a coffee, Askwith seems to have had the last laugh: “The critics hated them, but we were packing the audiences in at a time when nothing else did. People were queuing round the block to get into the Sheppard’s Bush Odeon.”

Askwith started out with high hopes. After being expelled from school for running down his headmaster with a motorcycle, a chance meeting with film director Lindsay Anderson led to a role in ‘If’, a critically acclaimed satire of public schools.

Acting seemed like the perfect career choice: “I was earning 49 quid a week, driving a Triumph Herald and picking up the girls. There was no way I was going back to learning about Karl Marx.”

His timing was lousy. After a productive period when American studios poured cash into UK pictures, the British film industry was about to enter a dark period. Struggling with their own financial problems, Hollywood producers scaled back their investment and, almost overnight, money for new films dried up.

Askwith segued from critically acclaimed dramas like ‘If’ into TV sit-coms such as The Fenn Street Gang, Bless This House and Please Sir!, and indie horror hits Tower of Evil, The Flesh and Blood Show and the bonkers hit Horror Hospital (now a cult classic). “I had bills to pay,” he says matter-of-factly, “and the films made lots of money. That was the British film industry back then.”

Ironically, the Confessions films were actually made with American money (from Columbia) which gave them bigger budgets – and better casts – than the thematically similar Adventures rip-offs made by Stanley Long.Askwith says he originally turned the role down (“I read the script and couldn’t understand it. I thought ‘What’s all this about bubbles coming out of my arse’? 

It sounded ridiculous.”) but took the role when offered a multi-picture deal. In fact, he signed up for six Confessions films (based on the books written under a pseudonym by Christopher Wood) – a remarkable deal for a young actor at the time – and when Confessions of a Window Cleaner succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations that looked like a canny move. Today, the success on that scale would set an actor up for life but in 1974 he says: “I had fame – but no fortune. My 20ft high face was on the side of buses, but I was still getting on the same buses.”