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The Big Switch (1968)

| Crime | 1968 (UK)
Playboy John Carter is implicated in the murder of a blonde from a discotheque and is forced by gangsters into posing for pornographic photographs.

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Cast

Cast overview:
Sebastian Breaks ...
John Carter
Virginia Wetherell ...
Karen
Jack Allen ...
Hornsby-Smith
Derek Aylward ...
Karl Mendez
Erika Raffael ...
Samantha
Douglas Blackwell ...
Bruno Miglio
Julie Shaw ...
Cathy
Jane Howard ...
Jane
Roy Sone ...
Al
Nicholas Hawtrey ...
Gerry
Brian Weske ...
Mike
Gilly Grant ...
Sally
Desmond Cullum-Jones ...
Chief Inspector
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Playboy John Carter is implicated in the murder of a blonde from a discotheque and is forced by gangsters into posing for pornographic photographs.

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1968 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Strip Poker  »

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Featured in Guide to the Flipside of British Cinema (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

Early Pete Walker
9 April 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Opening with a "bird" taking her clothes off then being gunned down for her troubles, Strip Poker (a.k.a. The Big Switch) concerns hard man playboy John Carter. Seemingly the most unluckiest chap in the West End, within the space of a few scenes Carter manages to lose his job, discovers his girlfriend dead and is beaten up by three thugs (one of whom is a very young Derek "Eastenders" Martin). Turns out its all an evil plan by gangster Mendez (super suave Derek Aylward) to blackmail Carter into journeying to Brighton, to do a job. What this job entails remains a mystery till the last reel, though a clue can be found in the a.k.a. title, in the meantime Carter and Virginia Wetherell are held hostage by Mendez's goons, and forced to participate in sadistic photo shoots supervised by a drooling pervert photographer and two "crazy acidhead" dolly birds. Made at a time when Walker was shooting basic sex and violence exploiters with scripts written in the space of one night (as was the case here), I suppose the polite thing to say is that Mr. Pete was still learning his craft here and doesn't appear to have been touched by greatness at this stage in his career. A good proportion of the film seems to consist of well-to-do actors awkwardly delivering dialogue that sounds like a parody of the Sweeney written a good few years before the fact "one of your stupid birds blew the gaff" etc, etc. Supposedly around 13 minutes of additional depravity were added for the 'overseas' version, and even in the standard British version, which clocks in at just over an hour, some amusement can be had over how Walker manages to crow bar titillation into the most mundane scenarios (such as when Carter goes to chat to Mendez only to find him in the middle of tutoring topless female wrestlers!). The climatic chase on a snowy Brighton Pier that includes a shootout in a penny arcade and a ride on a ghost train, is quite atmospheric, but looks to have been a nightmare for the actors who struggle to keep their balance on the icy pier. Leading to a memorable moment when an actor playing one of the gangsters slips and falls flat on his arse, and they left that shot in!!! Overall Strip Poker resembles one of those "Butchers films" that ITV used to show in the middle of the night, only a lot more amateur and with one eye towards the skin market. Nice as it is to see an early example of Mr. Pete's work, and boasting some choice views of Brighton at the fag end of the Sixties ("where the filthy rich go for dirty weekends") its probably best for Walker's reputation that his bone fide horror classics now have their own DVD box set while the really early stuff like this and School for Sex are now out of circulation (ditto Lady Hemp allegedly suppressing Tiffany Jones). Still there is something oh-so-British about a film that ends with a detective asking the leads to come down to the station and answer a few questions over a cup of tea.


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