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  White Cargo Dave Saves Slaves
Year: 1973
Director: Ray Selfe
Stars: David Jason, Imogen Hassall, Hugh Lloyd, Tim Barrett, David Prowse, Raymond Cross, John Barber, Sue Bond, Stanley Stewart, Geraldine Hart, Roger Adamson, Paddy McQueen, Nick Zaran, Peter Thompson, Sonny Caldinez, Frank Ray, Bozena, Vivienne Stokes
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Albert Toddey (David Jason) is out walking his dog early one morning when he is approached by a man who has just climbed over a wall to escape the sound of sirens and gunfire. He acts aggressively towards Albert and demands to know what he's doing, so the befuddled chap explains and is allowed to go on his way. Reaching home, Albert reflects on his life so far, and how it has enabled him to attain a position working for the government, not bad for someone who never thought he'd amount to much and always daydreamed he could be a Superman...

This misbegotten, and largely forgotten, little comedy never had much of a chance, though it holds occasional interest for those intrigued by the early career of its leading man, British television megastar David Jason who was making one of his occasional forays into the movies with this. The main mishap which befell it was not his casting, he does his best with thin material, but the fact that he wasn't supposed to be the star at all, for this was conceived as a vehicle for TV comedy team The Goodies who were extremely popular at the time, though they tended to use their own scripts, so why they would have been attracted to this is a mystery.

Of course, they weren't attracted at all and wisely left the project when they realised it was not really up to snuff, which left the screenplay by director Ray Selfe, a man better known for his sex comedies, and David MGillivray, who was going to make his mark on the British exploitation movie scene, looking rather forlorn as the cast attempted to breathe life into it. They couldn't hide how desperately cheap it was, unfortunately, and as the presence of Selfe might have indicated that there would be a fair amount of ladies taking their clothes off during the proceedings, then the potential audience would likely have been let down in that department as well; Jason had first made his name in children's television, and much of this would not be out of place there.

He did his best, and in spite of dialogue which left him scrabbling for any actual jokes he did come across as a decent enough "little man" character, but the story at no point resembled anything convincing. It was simply a series of sketches thrown together which happened to feature the same people, so Albert gets a card from a gentlemen's club in Soho invting him along for no reason other than to get the plot going - what all that business with the man climbing over the wall has to do with this was never explained, although reputedly this was drastically cut to fit on a double bill, as was the way of things in this era. Not that a longer version would be any more satisfactory in this case: some variations run as short as an hour, though it's likely the hour and a quarter one you'll see should you track it down.

Anyway, hapless Albert visits the club and is watching the stripper Desiree (Benny Hill Show regular Sue Bond) when he notices a woman struggling with a much larger man. The woman was another stripper, Stella (tragically shortlived Imogen Hassall), and the man was Darth Vader himself, David Prowse, in the role of the Mister Big's bodyguard who is trying to wrestle the contents of Stella's handbag from her. Albert tends to go off into fantasies where he is a James Bond style hero, capably beating up the baddies and saving the ladies, then straight after we will see him making a mess of things as he tries to make those fantasies reality, and so it is with Stella. He does end up back at her flat after she takes pity on him, which gets him embroiled in a white slavery scheme which in oh-so-seventies fashion sees British girls sold to the Arabs. Or not, if Albert has anything to do with it, though what you'll take away from this are scenes reminiscent of the old public information film which intoned "Polish a floor and put a rug on it? You might as well set a mantrap!" Music by David Lindup.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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