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  On the Game A Whorey Old Tale
Year: 1974
Director: Stanley A. Long
Stars: Charles Gray, Lloyd Lamble, Gloria Maley, Olive McFarland, Paddy Ryan, Carmen Silvera, Karen Archer, Simon Joseph, David Brierly, Francis Batsoni, Mandy Murfitt, Fiona Victory, Natalie Shaw, Pat Montgomery, Heather Chasen, Allen Morton, Peter Duncan
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Sex, Documentary, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: This is a history of prostitution from ancient times all the way through to the present day - since before ancient times in fact, as it recreates the first ever act of prostitution between a couple of apemen, one who gave away some food to another in return for sexual favours. Moving forward, we reach the pre-Greek era where in some societies women were required by law to sell themselves at least once, an opportunity the menfolk took adavantage of. The Greeks were the first to embrace the whole idea and made a register of legal whores, and so it goes on, charting the most memorable instances that the filmmakers felt were worth commemorating...

On the Game was a follow up to Stanley A. Long's previous sex documentary Naughty!, and adopted a similar jokey style, although not all the way through, as there is quite a bit of this likely to freeze the laughter in your throat, if indeed the weak humour has prompted you to mirth. Yet oddly enough, the script by Suzanne Mercer is actually quite informative, so if you are not titillated then chances are you will be educated though where exactly you would be able to use the information you have gleaned is not so clear. It takes the form of a selection of vignettes, some making the subject lighthearted, but others more serious.

Not that there's much lighthearted about the subject of prostitution, and Long and his collaborators go to quite some strenuous efforts to make this amusing. They include the old urban myth about the straying husband visiting a brothel only to realise that the woman who has given him so much pleasure is his moonlighting wife, here set in Victorian times but could just as easily have hailed from any era, and this is supposed to be funny. Then again, the tales of medieval prostitutes being forced into a cage and dunked in a river, something Long recreates with worrying faithfulness, or the fact that others were deliberately made pregnant through rape in jail so they wouldn't be back on the streets for a while aren't exactly the stuff of entertainment.

Talking of urban myths, there's one about former Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan that claims he appeared in a pornographic movie, and although he is in this as a gay lover to the French King, he does not divest himself of his clothes and is merely present to fire off a few comic lines. Another tall story bites the dust, but there's not much else here of interest other than to the scholar of either the film's theme, or to those intrigued by the British leanings toward such industry-supporting material in the seventies. There's certainly a lot of nudity, but the surroundings are so downbeat and unattractive that whatever allure they once had has been dissipated in the sands of time, so what you're left with is a history lesson.

An illustrated history lesson, true, but with Charles Gray as the unseen narrator - here's a film that could have done with his presence in his Rocky Horror Picture Show guise to lift the depressing tone - the whiff of the lecture is never far away. So we are treated to recreations of the story of Messalina, the Emperor's wife who doubled as a prostitute, all the way up to a modern day whore who is interviewed about her fifteen years experience, although she is obviously an actress in a wig and the whole chat is stiltedly staged. Not only that, but venereal disease gets a look in as well, in passion-killing medical photographs which must have put the dirty mac brigade right off when appearing on a cinema screen back in 1974. It ends with the hard to accept revelation that you can have sex with a nurse on the NHS - those crazy seventies! If there's a confusion about how the filmmakers wanted to treat this, it does the film no favours, and leaves you wondering how you were supposed to react: it's all over the place, really.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Stanley A. Long  (1933 - 2012)

Long got his start taking nude photos, branched out into short films, then embarked on a series of features which lasted a good three decades before he moved into a post-production capacity on many titles up until just before his death. It was those sexploitation flicks which made him a millionaire, capturing the public's interest in increasingly racy subject matter, making his career a textbook example of loosening censorship, from nudist colony movies (Take Off Your Clothes and Live) to mondo documentaries (West End Jungle, Primitive London, London in the Raw), to full on softcore such as Groupie Girl, The Wife Swappers, Naughty, On the Game, his highly lucrative Confessions of rip-offs The Adventures of... series, and his finest film Eskimo Nell, rightly cited as the best, or at least the funniest, of the whole genre. He also penned a revealing autobiography.

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