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  Secrets of a Door-to-Door Salesman Sold On Love
Year: 1973
Director: Wolf Rilla
Stars: Brendan Price, Jean Harrington, Chic Murray, Graham Stark, Bernard Spear, Victoria Burgoyne, Felicity Devonshire, Jacqueline Logan, Elizabeth Romilly, Jan Servais, Jacqueline Afrique, Sue Longhurst, David Rayner, Johnny Briggs, Karen Boyer, Tara Lynn
Genre: Comedy, Sex, Trash, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: David Clyde (Brendan Price) is a lobster fisherman who one day is enjoying the company of his girlfriend (Karen Boyer) when there is a yell from the floor below: David's father has fallen into the sea and is drowning. The girlfriend is ordered to call the coastguard and David rushes out to the scene, but it is too late; however, he thinks this might be a blessing in disguise when he realises he free from the bonds of the fisherman's life and can now strike out on his own. With his inheritance, the young man buys a car, packs his bags and heads off to London...

Yet another of the British craze for softcore movies in the form of comedies, this did at least have an interesting story behind it, as Secrets of a Door-to-Door Salesman was intended to have been directed by none other than Jonathan Demme, who was well into his exploitation movie phase at this stage in his career. Alas, a difference of opinion as to what direction the film should take meant he left the project soon after shooting began, and the only footage of his which survives is the first scene as detailed above. It is noticeably not the work of the director who took over, Wolf Rilla, being far more "American" in appearance.

If anything, the Demme introduction is far more enthusiastic about showing sex and nudity than the rest of the film, and indeed the rest of its peers, where usually the camera was planted about ten feet away from the actors as if embarrassed to lean in any closer. Of course, what this first five minutes is not is all that funny, and not simply because of the lame punchline regarding the drowning that follows (and really, how funny is drowning, anyway?). This is the fault of the lazy script, which makes it surprising it was written by Joseph McGrath and Denis Norden (under a pseudonym), two reliable talents in the field of British humour.

Even with Norden on board, there's nothing to rival the laughs of his outtakes show It'll Be All Right on the Night, which is a shame as Secrets could do with a dose of irreverence to brighten it up. It's actually dismayingly sincere about its romantic subplot, which sees David (who apparently has to announce his name in full to everyone he meets) pick up a female hitchhiker sporting nothing but a pink towel. She is a German girl who has just escaped from a hotel in the countryside, calling herself Martina (Jean Harrington), leaving her double-crossing fiancé behind and making an impression on our callow hero.

By the end of the journey, David has bought Martina some clothes and is looking forward to spending more time with her, but she wants no further complications in her life and dashes off. Rest assured, their paths will cross again and David has high hopes for a relationship with her throughout the film until its sweet but banal ending. It's worth mentioning that he drives a vintage car throughout, for no reason which is ever explained, but might recommend this to fans of Genevieve and its ilk who are enthusiastic about such vehicles. David ends up living in a boarding house with six women, not all of whom take their clothes off for the camera, while he finally gets around to working in the job of the title, something he does with very little success. It's an innocuous experience overall, but without one decent chuckle there's only the nudity to recommend it to aficionados. Music by John Shakespeare and Derek Warne, and listen out for the truly weird DJ in some scenes, sounding like an mad, eighty-year-old Scotsman has taken over the airwaves.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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