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Between the miserable kitchen sink dramas of the 60s and the depressing
social realism movies of the 80s, British cinema gave us the wonderful
'Confessions' sex-farcesa series of silly comedies which glossed over
such trifles as the 3 day week, endless power cuts, unemployment, and
industrial action to bring UK cinema-goers the simpler delights of the
three 'b'sbums, boobs and bush.
Confessions of a Driving Instructor, the third in the bawdy series, once again sees Robin Askwith as cheeky chappie Timmy Lea, an instructor at a driving school owned by brother-in-law Sidney (Anthony Booth). Despite having a particularly gormless mug, women inexplicably throw themselves at Timmy, and his new profession provides him with endless opportunities to get his leg over with a bevy of beautiful babes, including his sexy landlady (busty Liz Fraser), her equally up-for-it daughter, eager first student Miss Hargreaves (the stunning Suzy Mandel), posh crumpet Lady Snodley, and even Mary (Bisto mum, Lynda Bellingham), the awfully nice daughter of business rival Mr Truscott (Windsor Davies).
Cue lots of sexual innuendo ("shall we try the 69 together?", says Bellingam before opening a bottle of wine), plenty of Benny Hill style speeded-up shagging, and much full frontal nudity from Timmy's conquests (although we only get a single boob from Bellingham, whilst Fraser is content to just wear some sexy lingerie). For fans of un-PC humour, there's also a tad of working class racism and a touch of homophobia for good measure ("you dirty queer... no wonder they call you Bender" shouts Windsor's character at his lackey).
Although it certainly isn't the most sophisticated film to have emerged from Elstree studios, Driving Instructor is still a very enjoyable moviea cinematic time-capsule from the decade of wife-swapping, dolly birds, flared jeans, X-certificate movies, and Ford Cortinas, and one that even occasionally manages to be every bit as revealing about British folk as its more serious cinematic counterparts.
CONFESSIONS OF A DRIVING INSTRUCTOR one for all lovers of highbrow comedy, witty, clever, cool, incisive in it almost devastating portrait of 1970's working class life - Mike Leigh and Ken Loach's films have nothing on this one, obvious inspiration for the later comedies of Richard Curtis - don't worry, just joking - instead it's a very broad unembarrassed Carry On style comedy - If you hate the Carry On's,WATCH SOMETHING ELSE. For the rest of us, there's some great talent on display - and not just in a female sense - Windsor Davies, Avril Angers, the great Irene Handl, Doris Hare, Donald Hewlett, Geoffrey Hughes, George Layton, to name but a few - Best of all is Liz Fraser as the very lusty landlady Mrs Chalmers - She's one landlady who would have no trouble getting her rent - a stunning looking woman, even as here at the age of 43 - very underrated character actress as well - pity she's not seen more these days. She would be a natural now for playing the sort of part that the great Irene plays in this one ( The splendidly named Miss Slenderparts ). See Liz in a later Minder episode, if you have any doubts. Also watch out for Sally Adez as the female instructor - wow, what a babe!. On a trivia note another great character, Sam Kydd featured in the first cut of the film as Mr Gilson but was cut out to bring the running time down to 90 minutes. So give it a chance !.
Confessions is hilarious and light hearted British humor much in the
vein of Monty Python although it is unrelated. I have tried for years
to find a copy but have been unable. I first saw it while staying at
The Heathrow Hotel in 1977. It is rather fast moving and a bit risqué
by the standards of that time. I was part of a large conference staying
at the hotel at the time that I saw it and when an elderly couple that
I knew and who were quite conservative came down for dinner they looked
rather stricken. It seems that while flipping through the TV channels
in their room they came upon the movie. I did my best to pretend not to
have already seen it (several times) and all that they would say was
that when they turned it on it was at the time on a golf course.
Thinking that they had in fact found golf they were appalled at the
next scene and would only say that they saw a couple doing something
which "should not be done on TV." Even with that small bit of info they
were red faced.
If you like Classic British comedy you'll like it.
This is probably the weakest of the British "Confessions of" series
which was generally inferior (albeit much more nudity-saturated) than
the much longer running "Carry On" series. Still, if you're talking
about British T and A films (I guess that would be "teats and arses"),
the "Confessions of" series was the top of the heap, and even this
weaker entry is a lot better than most. In this entry (which follows
the superior "Confessions of a Pop Performer") Timmy Lea and his
brother-in-law Sid have opened up a driving school. All of their
customers, of course, are beautiful, sex-crazed women except for one
half-blind septuagenarian (Irene Handl). And, of course, they're ALL
terrible drivers. As usual "Timmy" has a truly ridiculous amount of
sex, but true love--this time with the rugby-obsessed daughter (Linda
Bellingham) of the owners of a rival driving school--continues to elude
Robin Askwith who plays "Timmy" is about the same as ever, but his goofy family--brother-in-law Sid, his housewife sister, and his cantankerous provincial parents--again provide the best comedy. Bellingham, who was the wife of the producer, probably benefited from nepotism to some extent because she is pretty weak, especially compared to Linda Hayden who typically played the main love interest in these. As for the rest of the girls, you get to see all of Suzy Mandel, but not enough of her as she only has a small part. Sally Faulkner too has a small part as a "golf widow" who somehow ends up up naked in a sand-trap with "Timmy" while her negligent husband plays a round of golf. Faulkner was not ridiculously sexy like Mandel or Mary Millington, but she always made the most of these small comedy-type roles (she also appeared in Jose Larraz's "Vampyres" and later played Glory Annnen's murderous lesbian lover in Norman J. Warren's "Prey").
It really depends on what you compare it to, but I would probably recommend this. It's funnier than most T and A films, and has more T and A than most of the funnier Britidsh films.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Having been both window cleaner and pop performer, accident-prone
Timothy Lea ( Robin Askwith ) embarks on another of his brother-in-law
Sid Noggett's ( Tony Booth ) daft, money-making schemes, this time
buying Dumphrey's run-down driving school, which they rename 'Noglea'.
Unfortunately, they have a rival next door in the shape of the Truscott School of Motoring, run by pompous Henry Truscott ( Windsor Davies ) and his creepy minion Tony Bender ( George Layton ). Timmy takes a fancy to the former's posh daughter Mary ( Lynda Bellingham ). When not courting her, he is seduced by practically every female he meets, including his landlady 'Mrs.Chalmers' ( Liz Fraser ), her nymphet daughter 'Avril' ( Maxine Casson ) and 'Lady Snodley' ( Chrissy Iddon ).
The best place to see a 'Confessions' film is the cinema. Rather like Bond movies, they lose something on the small screen. It is hard to explain their appeal to anyone who was not alive in the '70's. You had to be there. Yes, they're sexist, homophobic, racist etc. That's why we love 'em! 'Driving Instructor' is my favourite, mainly because of Windsor Davies' Sean Connery impersonation and the irreplaceable Irene Handl as a senile learner. George Layton's 'Bender' is not unlike Richard O'Sullivan's 'Bingham' from the L.W.T. 'Doctor' series, in which Layton played 'Dr.Paul Collier'.
Bill Maynard's fight with the Italian waiter ( John Junkin ) is a scream, as is Damaris Hayman's short-sighted golfer whacking Timmy's bare bum with a golf club, and there are good car stunts by Rocky Taylor. Ed Welch's title theme is great too.
Funniest moment? Lord Snodley ( Ballard Berkeley from 'Fawlty Towers' ) catches Timmy making love to his wife, and sets his hunting dogs on him. Tally Ho!
Lynda Bellingham was then married to producer Greg Smith. In an interview at the time, Robin expressed a desire ( no, not that sort ) to direct a 'Confessions', but it never happened. I wonder what it would have been like.
Given the storyline - rival driving schools competing for custom - it is kind of ironic that in the year this was released, the 'Confessions' series itself acquired a rival - Stanley A.Long's 'Adventures Of A Taxi Driver' starring Barry Evans and Judy Geeson. Actors such as Liz Fraser were poached. It proved equally popular. I do not think Greg Smith had cause for complaint though, seeing how 'Confessions' was a carbon-copy of the 'Carry On' movies to start with.
Big hit though this was ( rightly so ), the end was nigh for Timmy Lea. One more movie - 'Confessions From A Holiday Camp' - and his ardour would be dampened forever. It was probably just as well. You could not imagine a 'Confessions' movie being made in the 1980's. What would it have been called? 'Confessions Of A Dole Signer'?
It's st. Stephen's Day / Boxing day, and I'm so bored I'm watching
Driving Instructor again.
Delighted to see Malchwriter (comment above) get the little add-in bits which highlight why the entire Carry On and Confessions series were such a turning point for British cinema. We might have grown up on them, but Elstree was financially screwed shortly thereafter. Brian Rix did farces which were silly but funny, Confessions is a sort of a farce but wasn't really, and in the '90's 'Allo 'Allo resurrected the entire genre to devastating effect.
But on to why I'd watch it again. Was Sally Adez the girl who passed Robin Askwith as an Instructor (only noticed her name because of "Malchwriter")?. If so, her underwear is a wonderful example of why the '60's and '70's could be so much fun. And Lis Frazer's appearance early on in the film (while the daughter is otherwise engaged) - Beautiful.
This is more of the same in this series of four films starring Robin Askwith as Timothy Lea. In this film, he becomes a driving instructor (the opening sequence in how he becomes one is predictable but funny) and works for Sid (Anthony Booth), his brother in law. There is lots of nudity (even a Scottish Pipe Band gets stripped!), but this film benefits from supporting roles, most notably Irene Handl as Miss Slenderpants, vying to finally get her license after 43 tries and Liz Fraser, still sexy and fun. This is a check your brains at the door sex comedy, but to me its the best of the four, since it doesn't rely only on the sexual escapades. Films like this were hugely popular then, so it was successful. Its not bad.
CONFESSIONS OF A DRIVING INSTRUCTOR is the third of the CONFESSIONS
series, which start out with the surprisingly enjoyable CONFESSIONS OF
A WINDOW CLEANER. Sadly, this film is far from enjoyable: it's saddled
with a rubbish script, peppered with dumb jokes and scenarios which
simply rehash those that have come before.
The main cast are all present and correct, but it really is a case of ever decreasing circles this time around. Robin Askwith tries his best as a cheeky chappy whose attempts at the titular career get him embroiled in all manner of sexual shenanigans, but his schtick is wearing thin by now. Anthony Booth is relegated to the sidelines, and Bill Maynard barely gets a cameo.
Better are Windsor Davies as the villain of the piece and George Layton as his gloriously un-PC sidekick Bender, who ends up being the butt of some homophobic humour. The film also includes an early role for Lynda Bellingham as the film's romantic interest, although her performance is hardly great; better are veteran players Liz Fraser and Irene Handl who have some funny scenes between them. Sadly, such effective moments of humour are few and far between in what is overall a lacklustre movie.
Clumsy clut, Askwith, a so so actor, who's a better looking version of Mick Jagger, his character, Timmy Lea, the English version of Alvin Purple, though this poor sod or lucky sod is much more accident prone, goes in another partnership deal with his brother in law Sydney (Booth) opening up a new driving school. Again like all the confessions movies, there's a lot of boobies, sex, some naughty full nudity, laughs, and accidents, but not just on Askwith's behalf. One old woman driver who's failed her test 43 times, and has been through every driving instructor, takes Askwith on one hell of a ride, causing some near misses with pedestrians, bicyclists. She also takes him the wrong way down a one way road (remember To Live And Die In L.A) You'll split your sides when you see where they end up in this crazy and very funny misdriving sequence. Our two entrepreneurs are at war with a classier driving school, situated right next door. Is that even possible? Of course Askwith, romeo that he is, is getting into hot water with the boss's daughter of this school and her lover, again causing complications for his brother in law. I love Askwith's Grandad in this. He's a hoot, a hoarder of crap he finds and brings home. This is one of the better confessions. The scene with the chocolate eclair is funny too, and tempting, as I just love chocolate eclairs. The reason why this is funnier I guess, is it's setting. You can bring up so many jokes and situations from driving schools. And Timmy Lea like Alvin Purple, is an enigma when it comes to the whys of them being sex magnets. If you're a confessions fan like I am, and haven't seen this one, see it. I promise you, you'll be in for a treat.
Despite having a good cast the film is let down by an abysmal script although I enjoyed some of the jokes it is not a film I would recommend to anyone. Robin Askwith in my opinion could have done alot better but was wasted in the confessions series and why the likes of Windsor Davies and John Le Mesuier appeared is beyond me as both had careers at the time.
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