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  Wife Swappers, The Swingers
Year: 1970
Director: Derek Ford
Stars: James Donnelly, Larry Taylor, Valerie St John, Denys Hawthorne, Bunty Garland, Sandra Satwith, Fiona Fraser, David Gell, Stacy Harris, Joan Hayward
Genre: Sex, Documentary, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: This film is based on true events and uses reconstructions and interviews to illustrate the growing phenomenon of so-called "wife swapping", where married couples swap partners purely for sexual gratification. But first, a brief introduction that sees a woman wearing a PVC raincoat being abducted from a London bridge by burly, sunglasses-sporting men, taken to a river in the countryside where she takes off the coat to reveal she is naked underneath, and ordered to swim towards a boat on the far shore. When she reaches the boat she climbs in - and screams!

So what on Earth was that all about? You won't find out until the film is over halfway finished, but before that we are treated to what purports to be a documentary yet in fact was all made up by the team of Derek Ford and Stanley A. Long in the most successful picture of their careers. The Wife Swappers made a lot of money for them, and was unusual for attracting couples to what was essentially a sexploitation flick, cashing in on a fashionable trend that I suppose someone must have indulged in at the time, although whether it was on the scale suggested here is somewhat dubious.

In fact, dubious is the word for the whole production as dry as dust interviews are interspersed with stilted dramatic scenes with women protagonists explaining in voiceover of their initiation onto the swingers scene. Oddly, the voices of the actresses playing those women don't sound the same as the narrators. There is another, "voice of God" narrator who is male and tells us that cities are a hotbed of licentiousness and introduces such questionable types as the psychiatrist who puts across the psychological view for our benefit, basically the equivalent of the white coated expert in any number of faux-factual movies.

The first dramatisation has Ellen (Valerie St John) receiving the news that her husband has met another couple and they're coming round for dinner - and more! When the male half of this couple turns out to be one of the chaps who played Captain Birdseye in British T.V. commercials, you might have though he could supply his own dinner, but it's not long before they're all playing strip, er, corker. This entails picking up two corks between the fingers and trying not to drop them, and if they do they have to take off an item of clothing. Soon all four are at it, and Ellen has become part of a whole undergound sex party scene.

But there's a moralising tone to The Wife Swappers that is born out of the need to appease the censor. Ford and Long couldn't come right out and say, look at how fantastic all this partner exchanging is! so the audience is subjected to the equivalent of a stern talking to, not only by the psychiatrist but by some of the characters as well. In effect, you're supposed to leave thinking, "I will never wife swap, the consequences are too grave" but what most people of the day were probably thinking was something along the lines of wishing there had been more nudity and less chatter. The vox pops with members of the public at the beginning are amusing enough, but boredom sets in early as the film was patently made for financial, not entertainment, reasons. And that woman at the start? Part of a "thrill club" apparently, it was all staged. Music by John Fiddy.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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