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  Sex Thief, The To Catch A Burglar
Year: 1973
Director: Martin Campbell
Stars: David Warbeck, Diane Keen, Terence Edmond, Dierdre Costello, Michael Armstrong, Christopher Neil, Gloria Maley, Jennifer Westbrook, Susan Glanville, Harvey Hall, Christopher Biggins, Christopher Mitchell, Eric Deacon, Gerald Taylor, David Landor
Genre: Comedy, SexBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Mrs Barrow (Jennifer Westbrook) is asleep alone in bed one night when she is awoken by strange sounds from a room downstairs, so she gets up, puts on her gown and creeps down to see what is going on. She is shocked to see a man there, a cat burglar dressed in black and complete with mask, who immediately begins to chat her up, unbothered that he has been discovered. This man is Grant Henry (David Warbeck), a novelist who has found writing is not keeping him in the style he has become accustomed, so has turned to jewel theft - and if the victims are attractive ladies, then so much the better for his seduction technique...

The Sex Thief was made by some of the same people who made what is perhaps the funniest of the British sex comedies of the seventies, Eskimo Nell, which has given it the reputation like that film of being a cut above the accustomed low standards of the genre. However, it's really not that great, looking as if it was knocked off in a week in the cheapest locations they could find, and with only one truly funny joke (which I won't spoil, and even that's a throwaway line). What it did have in its favour for the dirty mac brigade was a lot more simulated sex and nudity than the usual fare, which was what they wanted to see anyway.

That word "simulated" is important, because there was more than one version of this film. The first was the British incarnation, which was your regulation entry into the field, but when it was exported to America, a different market was targeted and our innocent British thesps found their performances intercut with hardcore sequences to make it appear as if all that rumpy-pumpy was in fact the real deal. While the cast didn't mind getting their kit off for a bit of fun, but must have been pretty put out when they discovered the fate their comedy had suffered: transformed against its will into porn.

It's a fair idea for this kind of thing, if hopelessly sexist to think that women would fall at the feet of a handsome burglar should he have the right line in smooth talk. The main source of humour is that although they report the theft of their valuables, the women are so enraptured by their night of passion that they refuse to accuse Grant, making up a lot of fibs about his appearance and accent to keep the police off his trail and cover up their quickie affair with him. Enter the nice but dim Inspector Smith (Terence Edmond), who cannot get to grips with the case, especially as his second in command is more interested raiding the vice squad's porn collection for his own ends.

Among the "victims" - Grant is always very polite with the women he goes for - are the wives of the rich, one of whom gets it on with him while her husband is out at the wrestling (just how seventies can this possibly get?) leading to a sequence where a bout is edited into a love scene - it has to be said, the sex here is very energetic. Also an American movie starlet (Dierdre Costello, obviously not American) pretends to have been robbed but is put right the next evening by Grant who doesn't like to be lied about (such integrity). Finally, there's that nice British television actress Diane Keen who plays an insurance investigator on the trail of the anti-hero; if you're easily shocked, you probably won't want to see her stark naked handcuffing Warbeck to a bed and ravaging him, even without unnecessary hardcore inserts. The Sex Thief is pretty run-of-the-mill as these things go, so don't get your hopes too high that it was a raunchy comedy of great quality. Music by Mike Vickers.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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