I started to watch this one with more than a little trepidation, I will admit, on account of the fact that I had only seen it once, and even then, only half of it. In fact, just about the only thing I remembered about it was the alarm clock with a little doll that dings out erections as it chimes (really) and sex being replaced by a train going into a tunnel (which doesn’t actually happen – something of a false memory there…).
What I didn’t recall was the plot, if there was one, and therefore I went in relatively fresh before reviewing…
The Amorous Milkman (1975)
Director: Derren Nesbitt
Starring: Brendan Price, Diana Dors, Julie Edge, et al.
First off, the sound quality is terrible. There’s a huge amount of background hiss throughout the whole thing, although this probably has been recorded from some VHS tape somewhere (I can’t imagine there’s ever been a DVD release), and even then, this probably didn’t have the hugest of budgets, it may just be there, as a feature. I’m going to ignore that, though.
This one’s called The Amorous Milkman and is yet another of these comedies that has the name of a salt-of-the-earth working-class type job in its title, on account of the fact that you probably wouldn’t be able to tell that from the huge milk float our title character rides and the bottles of milk he delivers throughout. In fact, Brendan Price is even credited at the start as “The Milkman”, as if the character doesn’t have a name!
The title and premise are somewhat misleading, however. Davey (Price) is a young milkman who lives in a tiny bedsit, complete with erection alarm clock, who can only wake up with the sound of an aeroplane seemingly close by (too close; you’d think he lives in the airport by the noise itself!). He’s also very British, warming up a copper kettle on a gas hob to make a cup of tea in the morning. His first line also contains the word “bloody”.
British, you see. Cor blimey, guv’nor.
There’s even a British sex comedy opening, with a jaunty theme tune over a “morning routine” montage (including walking down all the stairs in his building using the same shot multiple times – a cunning bit of trickery also used by student filmmakers everywhere) and the titles superimposed in yellow (also a colour they use a lot…). And off he goes with his milk.
One would expect, I think, for the rest of the film to be fairly routine, with Davey delivering more than just a bottle of milk to the succession of bored housewives he meets along his route. Indeed, it does seem to be setting that up quite nicely, introducing us to Rita (Diana Dors), unsatisfied with her stuffy second husband Gerald; Janice, who we first see in the bath; a drippy young lady who patches Davey up after a bad fall; and a dog owner.
After a huge roaring bark which I could swear was also used for Knightmare‘s Festus, Davey falls over and hits his head. Of course, it turns out that this fearsome beast is just a small King Charles spaniel, but then we all saw that one coming, didn’t we?
The thing is, that he doesn’t actually seduce any of these women until much later. The Amorous Milkman spirals from campy sex comedy into something of a drama about romantic misunderstandings, what with Davey managing to get engaged to multiple girls (Janice, and sexy brunette Margot (Nancy Wait), not to mention Julie Edge’s Diana, also a love interest) while not having sex with any of them.
In fact, in a similar vein to Adventures of a Taxi Driver, there’s even a dodgy friend, and a crime caper bit which ends up with Davey standing trial for indecent assault! Once again, this is a comedy which ends up trying to be something else – I would have preferred repetitive sex scenes with a number of housewives, to be frank!
Like a lot of ’70s sex comedies, however, there isn’t really a large amount of sex. There are, and I did remember this correctly, brief snatches of sex between Davey and other women lasting about a second long (and often in an odd colour like red or blue – maybe to make it more “memory”-ish), and there’s plenty of inoffensive nudity too, such as bars with topless waitresses, a party will a full-on orgy going on, and an art nouveau film-within-a film scene, where the flick they’re actually watching reminds me of real soft porn!
In fact, at one point during which Davey does manage to get into bed with Margot, very little is actually seen – and what there is is intercut with wartime footage… namely:
(i) a warplane
(iii) more soldiers
(v) a battleship firing
(vi) another warplane
(vii) pipers playing an Edinburgh tattoo
(ix) …a flamethrower? Why?
There are even some attempts at groanworthy verbal comedy (“I hope I didn’t hurt your pussy” – it’s a cat, you, see, a cat, there’s some Mrs Slocum levels of smut there) somewhere, but if I hadn’t written it down I probably would have forgotten it!
My guess is that The Amorous Milkman is the result of a curious experiment, throwing sex comedy, romantic misunderstandings, Shakespearean farce, courtroom drama and a milkman into the mix, filming it all and seeing what sticks. Then again, it’s actually based on a novel (by the director), which I haven’t been able to obtain, so I can’t simply go and check if this is just a filmed version of said novel to begin with!
My head hurts.
For all I’ve said, though, this flick isn’t actually bad. It’s not good, but it’s not terrible. Frankly, I was expecting worse.
And I’m really glad I don’t live in his bedsit.