Written by: Christopher O’Neill on September 5th, 2011
Theatrical Release Dates: UK, August 1969
Director: Donovan Winter
Writer: Donovan Winter
Cast: Christopher Matthews, Erika Bergmann, Penny Riley, Mary Collinson, Madeleine Collinson, Valerie St. Helene
DVD released: September 5th, 2011
Approximate running time: 78 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85.1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Nucleus Films
Region Coding: Region 0 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £11.99
Some Like It Sexy had a convoluted editing history and it is important to stress this since it impacts on the film as a whole. Released in the UK during the summer of 1969 as Come Back Peter!, Donovan Winter’s sexed-up take on the Alfie scenario apparently did reasonable box office but its depiction of sexual escapades was decidedly tame for a sexploitation picture selling on the international market. Winter gathered up some of the original cast, as well as a few body doubles, to shoot additional scenes. The result was a second version of the film known as Some Like It Sexy that is a hodge-podge of footage which drastically varies in continuity. For example, Erika Bergmann – as the German Au Pair whom Peter seduces – sports different make-up and hair styles during her scenes which are supposed to take place in one afternoon. In several cases, shots featuring Christopher’s Matthews’ slim and relatively hairless legs are intercut with a body doubles’ much meatier and hairier thighs and arse. Among these reshoots are the film’s most memorable – and some would say contentious – scenes involving the Mary and Madeleine Collinson, two real-life twins who later appeared in Hammer’s Twins Of Evil. After fighting over and frolicking with Peter, they grow tired of him and begin to kiss and fondle each other. The sequence is strictly mild softcore, but the fact that they are actual sisters still causes raised eyebrows. Another added sequence is rather tame by today’s standards but might have been perceived as close to ‘hardcore’ at the time involves a semi-erect penis which was included in the ‘continental’ cut of the film, but snipped from Some Like It Sexy when it was reissued into UK cinemas during the 70s.
As one might imagine, watching the recut version of Some Like It Sexy (which is the edition that Nucleus Films have released on DVD) is an erratic and messy experience. Each self-contained vignette is an array of anonymous body parts and cutaways which are spliced into the original on-screen action in a fashion so crude that it renders scenes almost abstract. There are embarrassing stylistic flourishes inspired by pop art and the new wave which were probably dated by 1969 (let alone when the film was recut in the 70s). Peppered throughout are bizarre – and blatantly symbolic – shots of a butcher hacking into meat placed almost subliminally in the film, which all make sense at the end of the picture. The original Come Back Peter! version is presumably lost, but it would be curious to see how it contrasts with the final edit. While watching the short film A Penny For Your Thoughts…? (found on the DVD as an extra feature), it is easy to assume that Winter intended for something less exploitative, but had to bow to commercial pressures. As harsh as these words are about Some Like It Sexy, it is the finale of the film that makes the venture worthwhile. The entire story is revealed to be a fantasy of a daydreaming delivery boy and completely turns the preceding narrative on its head, leaving a very different impression of its central character. As rough and ropey as the majority of Some Like It Sexy is, it is this twist in the tale which proves Winter to be a more thoughtful and cynical filmmaker than many of his contemporaries.
Nucleus Films presentation of Some Like It Sexy is an admirable achievement for a film that otherwise would probably never see the light of day on DVD. Presented at 1:66:1, the image quality shifts from scene to scene. Taking into consideration the age of the film, that several different elements were used, and that the final film was constructed from footage shot over two different time periods, the varying image condition is understandable and unavoidable. With scratches and speckles throughout (and occasionally water damage), the transfer may not be pristine, but is never too distracting. To their credit, Nucleus Films are unable to benefit from the kind of funding that the British Film Institute lavishes on their Flip Side releases, but they’ve done a solid job and it is great to see such an obscure title available. It should be noted that the DVD is completely uncut. Pre-cut in its UK cinema version and censored by the BBFC for its video release in the mid-nineties, this is the first time the film has been passed intact by the British censor.
As with the image quality, the mono soundtrack is far from perfect with hiss, pops and crackle but is perfectly presentable.
There are some welcome bonus features with Some Like It Sexy, the most significant of which is A Penny For Your Thoughts…? (37 minutes, 1965). This short film is also directed by Donovan Winter and, like the main feature, deceptively begins as a crude and offensive male fantasy but ultimately reveals itself to be sensitive to the female characters of the story. After an ominous sequence in a darkly-lit pub (while abstract male voices can be heard talking about women in crass and degrading terms), the remainder of the picture is a series of exchanges between a variety of female characters discussing their love lives. Shot in black and white and backed with classic 60s tunes by the likes of The Animals and Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders, it’s an interesting snapshot of 60s British attitudes towards sexuality with genuine empathy for the characters (it plays as a nice companion piece to The Pleasure Girls). Presented at 1:33:1, the image is sharp (although nicks and scratches appear throughout) and the sound solid.
Halfway In (13 minutes, 1969) is a silent stag film from George Harrison Marks which is included since it features Mary and Madeleine Collinson. Transferred from 8mm, the original materials are not in pristine condition, while the telecine itself looks very soft, but it is a nice extra feature to compliment the main film. For the theatrical trailer (2 minutes) Nucleus Films had to use a dated analogue master so they reconstructed the image from better elements with the exception of the titlecard, sporting the original Come Back Peter! title, which is taken from the analogue source. An image gallery offers a selection of stills and press materials. There are trailers for other Donovan Winter films The Escort Girls and The Deadly Females (which play when the DVD is initially loaded but not accessible from the menu) plus other Nucleus Films such as Scandalous Photos, Justine’s Hot Nights, Cannibal Girls and Video Nasties: The Definitive Collection. Another additional feature on the DVD is the director’s personal memoirs The Winters of My Discontent. At 92 pages in length, this is apparently an ongoing project for Winter and the current version is accessible via a PDF file on a computer.