REVIEW: David E.J.A. Bennett Wipes Up the Sticky Mess Left Behind by Adventures of a Taxi Driver (1976)

Directed by Stanley Long

Breaking the fourth wall with this barrel of tits from 1976, as Joe North – played by Barry Evans from Mind Your Language – self-commentates his predatory escapades as London cabbie from behind the wheel of his Hackney carriage in this dismal exploration of ‘pullin’ birds’.

Not to be confused with Marin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver of the same year (“you talkin’ to me?”), Adventures is a dalliance with unrestrained male promiscuity, opposed to De Niro’s portrayal of unchecked mental stability and the effects of isolation in the festering cesspool of after-dark NYC.

This is one of the more successful flicks of the British sex comedy movement of the 1970s and 80s and essentially posed as a low-budget response to the more-popular ‘Confessions’ series of films produced by Columbia Studios. Modern inclinations may wonder how a film about man confidently lusting after, and ‘conquering’, pretty much all women he takes a shine to could have ever existed, but it did do relatively well in the box office. Flocks of suit-clad men shuffled into the respectable setting of the cinema the length and breadth of the country to pretend they weren’t just there for all the tits.

Both the ‘Confessions’ and the ‘Adventures’ series’ were logical progressions to the ‘Carry On’ franchise. ‘Carry On’ was all about suggestiveness, double entendre, and the odd flash of a schoolgirl’s knickers (paedophilia was “acceptable back then”… and not just to paedophiles), which primed mainstream audiences for more raunchy, more bare-titty-based comedy such as this potato sack of nonsense.

Barry Evans, who is not particularly endearing or charming, holds court as well as can be expected of an actor delivering lines like “be a right little raver when she gets going … got a lovely little body on her, too” regarding a clearly upset-looking girl in the back of his cab. Turning to camera, he says: “Looks a bit miserable though… I know what she needs, right?!” presumably in anticipation of the audience in the cinema going “Corrrr, yeah, not ‘alf! Give it to ‘er, son!” or “She’s gagging for it, mate! Bloody SHAG HERRRRR!!!” or something equally as chivalrous.

That particular ‘bird’ has asked Joe to drive her to Lambeth Bridge, off which she intends to jump into the Thames. Thankfully, old Joe is there to talk her down and save her with his sex like an absolute flipping sex hero. For Joe, whose first thought when witnessing a suicide attempt is to try and have sex with the victim, the victim’s first thought after being saved from committing suicide is also to have sex. And it all works out just peachy and sexy, thank god.

Anyway, after about an hour of this guy shagging every female who airily wafts into a five-mile radius of his overly active penis brain, he somehow becomes embroiled in a jewelry hiest. Because there’s nothing a sex comedy needs more than a good, hard jewellery heisting. Am I right, lads? Phwoarrrrr…

Arguably, one could say that this unfunny romp is about a man not doing well in controlling what is clearly a sex addiction, while making light of suicide and mental health, and reducing women to mere hunks of proddable meat. But, that, I am afraid, to some people, was “acceptable” at the time – and you would have to be confident in your independence as a man to say you wouldn’t have been right there in those grotty cinemas with all the other “non-grotty” men.

Somehow, they even managed to make the opening and closing credits seedy…

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