Monday, 13 July 2015

Games That Lovers Play (1971)

The film Joanna Lumley would rather forget, Games That Lovers Play is a fairly limp and dismal British sexploitation comedy flick from the early 70s that the future New Avenger unwisely got her Purdeys out for.

Set in the roaring twenties, Games That Lovers Play (also known as Lady Chatterley Versus Fanny Hill - yes I know, clearly writer-director Malcolm Leigh hasn't read other piece of literature, preferring instead to use the characters as brand names for sex and debauchery) revolves around a competition set up by two old dears (Diane Hart and Nan Munro) who just happen to be London's greatest brothel madams. The challenge is to find out which madame has the best prostitute, is it Fanny Hill (Lumley) or Lady Constance Chatterley (Penny Brahms)? To find out, they wager £1000 for the girls to seduce the unseducable; an aging Roman Catholic bishop (John Gattrell) for Chatterley and for Fanny, an outrageous gay transvestite played by Lumley's then husband and lifelong friend Jeremy Lloyd. 

Unfortunately Games That Lovers Play does not rank highly even in the sexploitation genre, being both singularly unfunny and not in the least bit sexy - though obviously both Lumley and Brahms are simply beautiful creatures. On the one occasion that Lumley was forced to discuss the production she called it a "foul, unerotic film" and it's a summing up I can't really argue with. Indeed the only truly good things about the production is the rather lavish set design - a stunning mirrored corridor with black and white tiled flooring is the truly eyecatching decor of Fanny's Belgravia brothel - and the comic interplay between Lumley and Lloyd, who bat the otherwise risible dialogue back and forth like a game of ping pong. It makes me even more disappointed that their sitcom It's Awfully Bad For Your Eyes Darling was wiped many years ago if this is just a hint of the quality of comedic timing they had together.

By the time the girls are faced with the challenge of being the first to seduce wine merchant Richard Wattis, only to find he wants to bed the pair of them at the same time, you are left with feelings of great sympathy for all concerned at having to take part in this turgid yawnfest.

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