||Clegg (1970) aka The Bullet Machine and Harry And The Hookers
From what I gather--because you can always fully trust that whatever appears on film is 100-percent objective--1970 was a glorious time to be a man. And not just a man--a manly man.
NOW, the National Organization for Women, had begun kicking up its high heels in the States in 1966; and, in the UK, the first Womens Liberation Movement Conference took place in February of 1970. But it's not like anyone took those frustrated broads seriously.
As everyone knew, if these chicks dolled themselves up and maybe dropped a few pounds, they might get what they really needed--a little "action," wink-wink. And one good boffing would, in turn, have them no longer worrying their pretty little heads over silly notions like equality and getting anything but menial jobs.
Besides, honeys burning their bras at public demonstrations meant a whole bunch of them were running around with their funbags flopping all over the place. And who don't like that? If a girlie wants to "liberate" her boobs, she oughta be allowed, am I right, fellas?
This worldview all works out quite satisfactorily for private dick Harry Clegg (Gilbert Wynne), who refers to random non-committal sex as "my daily exercise."
Did I mention Clegg isnt a porn flick but rather a British crime drama?
Yes, modern enlightened hepcats, this was the cinematic role model for young men in 1970. And it was no rare exception. Those familiar with John Thaw as uptight Beethoven-loving Inspector Morse from the ITV/PBS series of the same name should get an eyeful of the younger Thaw in the movie/TV series The Sweeney, wherein police detective John, when not throwing down hard liquor and gut-punching villains, "pulls birds" left and right.
(Ladykilling stud Thaw is actually unintentionally hilarious to those only familiar with the stoic failure-with-women Morse.)
Getting back to Messr. Clegg, his lecherous lifestyle is just the tip of the icicle. Moments after the opening theme ends, the former cop--also the narrator of the tough-guy tale--enchants viewers with his ultra-enviable autobiographical intro. "I'm a private eye. Also a cold-blooded killer, a liar and a thief. My big problem is, I've been a loser since the day I was born."
Wow, what impressionable lad wouldn't want to grow up to be just like the central figure of this film? No wonder the ladies of London practically beg him to bed them.
Additionally, women dreaming of someday becoming Mrs. Harry Clegg, he barely has two shillings to rub together--and constantly grouses about his poverty, on the voiceover track.
Following the above scintillating self-description, Harry is marched into a wooded area for his execution by two goons and his most recent client, a man who hired Clegg to dig up dirt for his upcoming divorce, only to have the detective diddle the dame.
To prevent the film from ending in six minutes, Harry escapes the predicament by grabbing a goon's machine gun and pumping about 37 rounds into one ruffian, taking the ventilated man's weapon and capping his ex-employer roughly 20 times. So, add "unethical psychotic" to his prestigious personality profile.
Even though Clegg frequently forgets to pack his pistol--but manages to get nine shots out of the revolver when he does carry it in one scene--and eagerly double-crosses clients, our babe-banging Briton still gets recruited to work for four elderly tycoons threatened by the same revenge-minded assassin.
Want to guess how many of them are still alive when the end credits roll?
Need more reasons to go cuckoo for Clegg?
*While being grilled by Scotland Yard, the groping gumshoe confesses he hasn't "taken a bath in three days," this coming after (at least) three dalliances with wanton women during that period. (The original Dirty Harry?)
*When client and killer collide, Clegg does what any conscientious person would do. In Paris during one incident, he pawns the decedent's duds and flees France without alerting the gendarmes his dead acquaintance lies drowned in a hotel bathtub. In another incident, he sensitively rolls a bullet-ridden body over in order to help himself to the content of the client-turned-corpses wallet.
The man's a prince, I say!
Clegg contains the continuity gaffes, repetitiveness and cliche' characters we come to expect out of a quality junkfilm. Most impressive, from a technical standpoint, is the foley (sound effect) work, all wildly exaggerated and waaaaay too loud in the mix, allowing for outdoor footsteps to sound like everyone in London wears tap-dancing shoes.
In the scenes with Lolitas looking as if they just stepped out of the pages of Barely Legal magazine, the temptresses lick lollipops in a manner that audibly resembles a platoon of snails on the march if piped through Iron Maiden's P.A. system cranked up to eleven. SLURRRRRP!
[sidebar: Someone very high up on the production end finds the Lollipop Girls (as they are billed in the credits) very arousing. Late in the proceedings and entirely irrelevant, Harry is met at the door by a lone LG, who laps on her candy for a solid minute of screen time while hard-rock music roars--for the only time ever--on the soundtrack. Not a word exchanged, horny Harry then takes her for a stroll and schtup, the sheer eroticism of a pigtailed teen licking a lolly apparently too much for any man to resist.
In other words, the fetishist wrote himself into the storyline.]
It should be obvious that what really propels Clegg into qualifying for prestigious Manor On Movies attention is the fact that an amoral hedonistic lout was deemed perfectly acceptable as the HERO. This is no satire produced by a few Woodstock leftovers making a heavy statement about the pigs, man. Nor is it one of those lesser-of-several-evils Japanese-influenced morality tales introducing the then-new breed of antiheroes.
Nope, producer/director Lindsay Shonteff (Devil Doll; The Man From S.E.X.) dumped tens of thousands of dollars into this project, expecting to get wide distribution! What an idi...what's that you say? Clegg had five worldwide distributors, including securing bookings throughout the Netherlands, Britain and Canada, and was distributed in the U.S. by Joseph Brenner Associates, one of the Fifties-through-Seventies exploitation-era kingpins (including handling the M-O-M reviewed Rocket Attack USA)? Well, anyway...
A theater screening Clegg today would be burned down, meticulously reconstructed to the most minute detail, then burned down again!!!
As always, readers are invited over to ManorOnMovies.com to eye a photo-illustrated, fully formatted version of this review...and dozens of other incredible junkfilms. Ad free, too!