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.