Commuter Husbands (1974) Poster

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Son of the Wife Swappers: 'Commuter Husbands'
gavcrimson19 April 2003
Warning: Spoilers

Commuter Husbands is one of Derek Ford's post The Wife Swappers obscurities. A companion piece to the previous year's Suburban Wives, it sees Ford tentatively experimenting with the sex comedy format but is still shot in that recognisable Wife Swappers style. The film opens with a great night time journey around neon lit 1970's London shot from a car. The car's passenger is actress Gabrielle Drake who acts as the film's host and narrator. Gabrielle has been known to complain that she spent five years in drama school only to spend her first day on a big-budget film set naked and lying on a bed. By the time of Commuter Husbands she'd graduated to playing a swinger perched at the bar of the sparsely populated Penthouse Club. Delicately sipping from a cheap cocktail, Drake delivers straight to camera tales about men whose feeble attempts to get their leg over flesh out this six story affair. The most memorable of the Drake linking segments utilizes some location work done in Soho and sees Gabby strut her stuff past sex shops and the marquee for Ray Selfe's Sweet and Sexy. The first of her anecdotes takes us to a hippie party; in full swing are group sex games Ford's favourite cinematic subject ever since the days of The Yellow Teddybears back in 1963. A gormless plumber peeks in from the roof, but struggles to find a way into the penthouse where all this permissive activity is going on. When he does manage to infiltrate the party the plumber passes with ease among the psychedelic set. His paint and oil stained overalls are taken to be the latest freaky fashion accessory. For his troubles-which include having to deal with a crackpot girl who takes a bath while wearing snorkels and accidentally grabbing a nude extra's breasts with his oily mitts- the plumber is eventually rewarded with a bit of sex. Another segment has a middle aged couple adopting younger lovers and trying their best to keep their adulteress ways a secret from each other. Both the husband and wife plan to smuggle their lovers into a hotel for a dirty weekend, but in a twist of fate end up booking into the same hotel. Meeting each other in the lobby both struggle to explain themselves, the punch line has the husband and wife walking in on their lovers having sex. This segment is only interesting as a parallel to the way Ford and his wife Valerie were simultaneously bringing young bottom draw sex film people back to their house to perform in hardcore loops that were then incorporated into the 'overseas' versions of Ford's films. A clandestine practice that began with Commuter Husbands. Ford even casts his own house as the couples' hotel getaway.

The budget for Commuter Husbands surprisingly allowed Ford a busman's holiday to Amsterdam taking a break from his usual shooting locations of Soho in London and Maldon in Essex. Lots of scenic picture postcard shots of tulip fields and windmills unfold as Gabby relates the story of an Englishman holidaying in Holland and desperately trying to seduce his Tour Guide. Naturally Ford couldn't resist the opportunity to stage a scene in Amsterdam's Red Light District. Entering a hardcore sex shop the protagonist suffers a guilt ridden freak-out and has a hallucination of the tour guide as a witch shooting him evil looks amidst the dirty books. Terrified he runs out of the shop. When the tour guide finally gives him the come-on to join her in the bath, the Englishman slips and breaks his leg, then has to endure all the humiliation comedy you'd expect to befall a man with his leg in plaster in a 1970's British sex film.

Commuter Husbands isn't Ford at his best. The film seems stuck on a theme of stuffy Englishmen momentarily biting their stiff upper lips and diving into the world of sex only to end up buffoons in slapstick comedy routines. Thus the majority of the film is pretty tedious, and passes without being particularly funny or sexy. Commuter Husbands only really springs to life in the sequence that gave the film its title and peculiar poster image of a giggling, scantily clad woman framed by a bowler hat and an umbrella. A commuter husband (i.e. city businessman) whose wardrobe of a black suit, bowler hat and umbrella symbolises his sexual repression chances upon a motorcycle. Soon the commuter husband is having a biker sex fantasy, imaging men on bikes tearing around leafy English locations and nude actresses posing topless next to bikes or absurdly modelling helmets that are too large for their heads. The bikers start chasing the girls around the countryside and we quickly cut to a barnyard orgy populated by glamour girls and Hells Angels types sporting swastika badges. Also present is the ubiquitous Nicola Austine, the hardest working woman in 1970's sex films. The commuter husband fantasizes himself into the action with Nicola and the other girls dancing round him in a totem pole fashion. Adopting underground film style rapid fire editing the commuter husband fantasy is like Ford's heterosexual version of Scorpio Rising. It's a dazzling set piece, one of the best sequences Ford ever shot, that has the misfortune of being located in one of Ford's otherwise more forgettable efforts.
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More nonsense from Derek Ford
lazarillo29 October 2009
Being kind of weird guy, I don't really watch sex comedies for the sex, so of course I'm a big fan of 70's British sex comedies where you don't have to worry too much about any hot sex scenes getting in the way of the preposterous stories or the "comedy" (which is often pretty entertaining, but rarely for the reasons originally intended).This is a portmanteau sex comedy like "The Wife Swappers" or "Sex and the Other Woman". The subject here is the "battle between the sexes". In the first story an unfaithful husband and wife both take their respective lovers to the same hotel. In the second story a plumber does some work at the swank apartment of a French glamor actress and gets involved in a swinging party. This story, like a lot of British sex comedies of the era (i.e."Confessions of a Window Cleaner, "Adventures of a Taxi Driver)really caters to the fantasies of the male British working class (which apparently involved getting grease all over the bare boobs and butts of the kind of glamorous women they could never have in real life).The third story is a kind of throwaway fantasy about a guy imagining he is an outlaw biker and chasing naked woman around. The fourth story is about a peeping tom getting his comeuppance.

The stories are narrated by Gabrielle Drake. Like many actresses in these films, Drake was probably too talented for the genre, but she sure had the body for it. Unfortunately, you don't get to see much of it here (try "Au Pair Girls" instead). Ditto with Jane Cardew (who plays the husband's secretary/lover in the first story) and, most regrettably, Claire Gordon (who plays the French actress). Gordon played the luscious college girl in "Konga" who Michael Gough's evil professor literally goes ape for; however, she has little more than a cameo here. Famed smut director Derek Ford does manage to shoehorn in a quite few, pretty graphic sex scenes in the version I saw, but they all involve anonymous--and not always very attractive--actresses, and these scenes were no doubt shot after-the-fact to spice up the film for more liberal markets, since they were a little too racy for Britian at that time. As the other review mentioned, the gorgeous Nicola Austine appears in the motorcycle story--as usual with no lines and no clothes. Austine was not really an actress, but she became somewhat famous just for being in so MANY scenes in so MANY movies like this.

Derek Ford was one of the most notorious sex directors in Britain because he often shot his own additional footage for the "foreign version" of his films, which eventually would involve hardcore scenes as the 70's wore on. (Even by non-British standards the foreign version of his film "Sex Express" aka "Diversions" is considered one of the most disturbing porn films of the 70's). This film though is mostly just a lot of nonsense, but it does have marginal entertainment value.
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Enervating, lame sexploitation flick
jadavix4 February 2018
"Commuter Husbands" is a tedious sexploitation romp. Ostensibly a comedy, I couldn't really detect any humour, and generally found the "stories", if you can really call them that, hard to follow.

Yes, this is an anthology film, featuring five stories that are supposedly something to do with "the battle of the sexes", or "husbands led astray", or, I don't know. They're an excuse to show skin.

The movie opens with a sexy and alluring "story teller", played by Gabrielle Drake, providing an unnecessary and awkward introduction, attempting to set the scene for five "stories" that really have nothing in common with each other besides nudity. Unfortunately, the beautiful Drake (sister of Nick!) keeps her clothes on.

The first one is about a cheating husband and wife who take their paramours to the same hotel. The husband and wife are both so ugly, I don't blame them for cheating. This story is told so badly I could barely work out what was going on.

Then there's a story about a plumber who gets called to fix a sauna at some kind of swingers' party. For some reason he can't seem to get laid, and really bad generic psychedelic music plays on the soundtrack.

Then there's one which isn't really a story that I could make out, but is merely this movie's rip off of "The Immoral Mr. Teas". You know what I mean: guy sees women out and about in random situations, then he imagines them naked. Rinse. Repeat. I didn't get any plot from this one, but that might be because it was so badly told, as all these stories are.

The last one involves a man who can see into his neighbour's apartment, and so watches them having sex. At one point, he accidentally puts his foot in the toilet.

Aside from sex, the one motif present through all these vignettes is the ugliness of the male leads. There's no Robin Askwith or even Barry Evans type here. They also look very awkward, and other reviews I have read suggest that this was intentional. If it was, the movie does absolutely nothing with it.
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Sex comedy anthology is a hit and largely miss affair
Leofwine_draca28 August 2016
COMMUTER HUSBANDS is another skin flick from British director Derek Ford, who worked had to bring sex to the British screen in the 1970s. His big hit was THE WIFE SWAPPERS, so inevitably COMMUTER HUSBANDS follows the same trend of presenting an anthology of no less than six comic tales involving repressed Englishmen getting involved with a bevy of beautiful women.

The stories are a mixed bag, it has to be said, ranging from the brief and forgettable to the really rather good. The first tale about a husband and wife both having separate affairs who end up booking into the same hotel retreat is staid and obvious, lacking the kind of humour and simple fun of the other stories. Then there's one about a Peeping Tom and another about a biker chasing naked women around. The really decent story is the second one, with Dick Haydon playing a plumber who gets called to a posh Frenchwoman's home to sort out her pipes (fnar fnar). Once there he discovers all manner of sexual quirks going on and of course tries to get a piece of the action for himself. Haydon is hilarious and this segment is much like a proto CONFESSIONS OF A WINDOW CLEANER and a lot of fun.

Viewers looking for sex will be treated to lots of random couplings with non-actors which seem to have been inserted in order to spice up the running time. The genuinely beautiful actresses like Gabrielle Drake and Claire Gordon resolutely keep their kit on, even though they do appear in skimpy attire. Drake is the narrator of the piece and viewers who have seen her in this and AU PAIR GIRLS will realise she's a pretty talented actress as well as beautiful. COMMUTER HUSBANDS as a whole is a rather forgettable affair although fans of the era and the genre might well get a kick out of it.
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