Never one to pass up a good band wagon he could hop onto, small time independent producer Stanley Long saw the benefits major player Columbia was reaping from its innocuously naughty CONFESSIONS series with Robin Askwith portraying hapless Timothy Lea and decided that, yes, he would have a bit of that ! Already beaten to the punch as far as peeping tom window cleaners and pop performers knee-deep in groupies were concerned, he and regular screenwriter Suzanne Mercer (ironically, herself a reformed groupie and author of the supposedly autobiographical script for Long's surprise smash hit GROUPIE GIRL) turned their attentions towards another profession legendary for its lusty Lotharios, the London cabbie ?! Now you must understand something about the British sex comedy and, by extension, the British themselves. These frothy farces play much like popular TV sitcoms like, say, ON THE BUSES or SOME MOTHERS DO 'AVE 'EM but with a little bit of what the goggle box would not allow in the form of nowadays - and actually even back then - really rather tame nudity, made to seem a lot dirtier by the leering, wink-wink, nudge-nudge approach. As any attempt at genuine eroticism made domestic audiences uncomfortable, evoked by disappointing box office takings for the likes of Henry Herbert's AWAKENING OF EMILY and Chris Boger's CRUEL PASSION, this tits 'n' titters combo proved just the meal ticket Long was looking for, jump-starting a separate series that ran for three episodes (subsequent installments concerning private detectives and...plumbers ?!) with several more planned that sadly (?) went unrealized.Adhering to tried and true formula, Long secured the talents of Barry Evans (star of the hit TV show DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE and its follow-up DOCTOR AT LARGE) for the central part of working class laddie Joe North and surrounded him with many comfortingly familiar faces for the home viewing audience he was trying to lure away from their sets with the promise of T&A. Post-war British bombshell Diana Dors had a few funny scenes as Joe's loud-mouthed single mom with three kids sired by different dads and was starting to carve out a niche as a sexploitation character actress since American director Joe Sarno had cast her as the whorehouse Madam in EVERY AFTERNOON. Formerly respectable comedienne Liz Fraser showed no shame as kindhearted working girl Maisie in one of the film's best gags when Joe's sudden slamming the brakes makes her back seat fellatio end in tears. Already a sitcom veteran by her mid-20s, Adrienne Posta gives it her all as our hero's obnoxious fiancée Carol.Plot, such as it is, concerns Joe trying to leave an overpopulated homestead by working long hours as a London cab driver and the outrageous scrapes he gets himself into, effectively breaking down the narrative into a series of sketches building variety show style towards punchlines. Joe shacks up with buddy Tom, a greasy mechanic played in an early professional assignment by Robert Lindsay, best know for heading the cast of long-running BBC sitcom MY FAMILY, who has just moved in with sweet stripper Nikki (Blighty cinema royalty Judy Geeson, who doesn't bare much of anything, profession notwithstanding) who keeps a python around the house as part of her act. One of the more extended stretches has the trio inviting Nikki's fellow stripper Helga (Anna Bergman, Ingmar's daughter, making her Brit sex film debut) over for a game of strip poker, ending in a bedroom romp with Joe, rudely interrupted by Carol. A bungled diamond heist takes up flick's latter part in a fruitless effort to tie up loose ends.Technically on the crude side with flat, colorless cinematography by Peter Sinclair (who would shoot Madonna's legendary Like a Virgin video), movie's not without its share of laughs for the undemanding. The late Prudence Drage (also in Martin Campbell's ESKIMO NELL and Derek Ford's SEXPLORER) has a field day as an upper-crust pick-up who bemoans the clothing industry's poor workmanship as her fancy frock "accidentally" falls to the floor. Respected denizen of stage and screen Angela Scoular, who played Cathy in a '60s BBC version of WUTHERING HEIGHTS, performs surprisingly extensive nudity as the wife of a wealthy businessman who has inadvertently locked herself out of the house and winds up sharing a particularly uncomfortable bubble bath with Joe. Benny Hill's straight man Henry McGee turns up as the police inspector in film's final scene. Long most obviously flirted with the CONFESSIONS franchise by casting its leading lady Linda Hayden's sister Jane as suicide-prone drama queen Linda (!) in an amusing bit with DAD'S ARMY's Ian Lavender.
Spurred on by the success of the ribald, 1970s 'Confessions of?' sex comedies, producer/director Stanley Long began his own series in the same vein, the 'Adventures of?' films, starting with Adventures of a Taxi Driver. This first film quickly sets the tone for the whole series: crude and not particularly funny.Mind Your Language star Barry Evans plays Joe North, a cheeky London cabbie who uses his job as a means of chatting his way into the knickers of his tastier clientèle. Little more than a series of smutty skits in which North experiences variety of silly sexcapades (allowing for the obligatory nudity from some quality British crumpet, and occasional flash of Evan's todger), the film is unsophisticated nonsense with little of the charm or wit of the films it so obviously seeks to emulate.3.5/10, generously rounded up to 4 for lovely Jane Hayden as Linda (which, coincidentally, is the name of Jane's equally attractive big sister), a suicidal woman saved by North, who tries to help the poor girl out by shagging her (NOT a method recommended by The Samaritans, I believe).
British Sex Comedies of the 1970s have always taken a bad rap, somewhat unfairly.What people don't realise is that beyond the 'slapstick' humour and chauvinistic 'sexual titiliation' there are intelligent and amusing subplots and sidelines that work on oh so many different levels.Try appreciating this film, and others like it, from an analytical and intellectual perspective, and you'll begin to pick up on some of the subtle ironies and trademarks of the genre.See beyond the characters: the taxi driver is actually representive of all of us, his taxi the vehicle that conveys us through our lives, picking up and dropping off other people along the way. The sexual encounters represent the continuous cycle of human reproduction. The kidnapping and the final twist show that everything in life comes full circle.This is far better than the inferior 'Taxi Driver' film, also made in 1976, with which it is often unfortunately confused.
Despite this being a real adventure, and a lot of Brit fun, especially when you have a very likable actor in it, this is of course, is just an excuse for a T and A romp. Yes it's a lot of saucy fun, and we know exactly where this film is heading or what kind of film it is, if good looking Evans is involved. The film has no plot, but some familiar faces, especially the very talented Judy Geeson, the girlfriend of Evans's friend. His home life is no picnic, his taxi, the only form of release, and sanctuary where we see him do a few dames, one an older, and hot one who gets locked outside her two story house, which ends with a very familiar clichéd scene in a bathtub, like those in the Confession's movies. It becomes quite a frustrating scene, rather than amusing. We also have a staged taxi hold up, that was a surprise I liked. Poor Evans does cop it, either from his nagging Mum who can't cook, and a harping girlfriend, any guy would righteously strangle. There are funny moments, the most humorous part is in it's starting, where the film takes digs at taxi drivers. One truly unforgivable, but cutely forgivable blooper was Evans ducking back into his taxi naked, after a close call at that married woman's house earlier, where he's in full view, of a female fuzz, walking towards him. Why do I like this bad movie? 1. The soundtrack, 2. The T and A aspect, and 3. Evans, a not so fortunate actor when measured against his talent, and tragically, his suspected murder. One scene, totally unwarranted, was the weird conversation, mostly on Judy's part, where Geeson's' boyfriend asks her to choose between him or her beloved Python. The end scene that marked the return of that sexy suicide jumper, provided the most memorable line. Just watch and enjoy.
What is to be said in the favour of Adventures of a Taxi Driver? Very little, it's sad to say. The film gives new meaning to the term second hand: it's a rip-off of the Robin Askwith Confessions series of sex comedies, which themselves were already sub-Carry On crossed with continental saucy fare. Taxi Driver also mixes in elements of Alfie (the direct to camera narration of the Lothario protagonist), On the Buses (the bickering family arguments) and British B movies of the early 60s involving petty crime. This wholesale appropriation of other people's ideas might be acceptable if they were used here with any skill or aplomb; as it is, the film is tedious, plot less, poorly directed and almost aggressively unfunny. It's attitude to women is dismissive and offensive, and even the usually charming Barry Evans - who made the infantile and racist sitcom Mind Your Language palatable - is heavy handed and dislikeable here.The few pluses include good comic turns from Adrienne Posta and Diana Dors, a winsome performance from Marc Harrison as Evans' thieving brother and the chance to see, briefly, Stephan Lewis doing Blakey as a strip-show doorman. There's also some intriguing footage of mid-70s Soho which might be of value to social historians.I suppose that the film does capture a certain mood of cultural desperation which clearly reigned in the UK at the time. Evans' sexual shennanigans seem like the last resort of a man with nothing else to do; the sexual revolution has failed to make life interesting, as people are just as boorish and neurotic and dumb as they ever were. Whether this is a real reflection of the times or merely the projection of the filmmakers' own limited intelligence and wit is a matter of conjecture, although the huge box office success of the film suggests that it did offer the film-going population something they could respond to.Although the film is about sexual adventures, the sex scenes themselves are as sexy as bromide, with not a single moment of chemistry between Evans (who was gay in reality) and the various women he disrobes.