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Cirio H. Santiago
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The Love Box is the product of an era when exposes of unorthodox customs could guarantee a large and curious box-office. It's look at the world of small ads having obvious commercial and actual debt to Derek Ford's The Wife Swappers (1969). The film's director Teddy White made few films- his only other notable credit is producing The Sex Thief, a surprisingly explicit comedy starring David Warbeck as a jewel thief cum bedroom gymnast. Another unknown, Chris Williams heads the Love Box cast as a smarmy executive type making his way to work while offering comments about l'amour in the 70's- at least until an opportunity to leer at the mini skirt inclined makes itself available. Leering as it turns out is Williams' bread and butter in running a London listings magazine vaguely modelled on Time Out that has attracted notoriety due to 'The Love Box' its racy lonely hearts club column. So offbeat are some of the ads that his staff try to imagine what will become of these social curiosities. This being a film that doesn't want to leave anything to the imagination we're privy to the various psychodramas that occur when the ads are answered. The Love Box is nothing if not hyperactive with vignettes like 'The Sex Kittens' 'Orgy in Kilburn' and 'The Bored Housewife'. A grizzly roly poly degenerate (whose a dead ringer for the late William Rushton) becomes the unwitting star of Soho loop, an artist places an ad entitled 'trying new colours' and is bowled over by ethnic sexpots, we even get some senior citizen sexploitation as an arthritic old man calls for a massage and gets more than he bargained for- naturally we eventually detour into Derek Ford's favourite cinematic subject swinging suburbia as a lechering cockney and an aged creep in a mod outfit parade their bored wives in a series of uniforms. The film ends with someone's cringeworthy idea of art filmmaking in which all the characters are reunited naked in a outdoor Utopia. At its worst the film is guilt motivated into the usual comedic touches with some really witless moments that lack any worthwhile set-ups or payoffs, but for most of the film, the low budget, full run of prurient subject matters and almost unknown third rate cast conspire to give the film a sordid outlook thats appropriate to the scenarios the film's boys and girls find themselves sucked into. The Love Box beats with Soho vulgarity in the sense that everyones driven by an urgency for cheap thrills best summed up in a young wifes adulterous encounter with a pudgy 70's hipster in the Alan Lake mould who tells her 'I know it all seems a bit strange, too quick but in half an hour it will seem like we've known each other all our lives'. The Love Box was released domestically by Barry Jacobs' Eagle films which brought audiences numerous home grown films of the Derek Ford and Stanley Long stable as well as popular imports like Around the World With Fanny Hill and Love in a Women's Prison, years later Jacobs hit pay-dirt again with Italian gore fests like Eaten Alive. Several noteworthy personalties cut their teeth on this little venture, Martin Campbell (now in Hollywood with Goldeneye and The Mask of Zorro) was the assistant producer, a pre-Vampyres Marianne Morris is barely recognisable in the Wife Swapping segment and Mike Vickers (ex Manfred Mann) is responsible for the songs which turn out to be the most impressive aspect to the whole film despite including the immortal lyric 'please don't lock me out, I wanna eat you like a plate of sauerkraut'.
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