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  Spanish Fly Topple For Tipple
Year: 1976
Director: Bob Kellett
Stars: Leslie Phillips, Terry-Thomas, Graham Armitage, Nadiuska, Frank Thornton, Ramiro Oliveros, Sue Lloyd, Andrea Allan, Sally Farmiloe, Jaleh Haddah, Nina Francis, Sergio Mendizábal, Emiliano Redondo, Fernando Villena, Marisa Porcel, José Lifante
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Sir Percy de Courcy (Terry-Thomas) is seeking another moneymaking scheme, but having gained a reputation in his native Britain, he has travelled to Minorca, complete with Rolls Royce driven by his loyal chauffeur Perkins (Graham Armitage), to set up another business. He has had the idea he could make a healthy profit by buying a product cheaply and selling it expensively, in this case a lot of Spanish wine nobody in their right minds would want if they knew what it tasted like. So who can Sir Percy get to do a deal with?

Step forward Leslie Phillips as Mike Scott, a businessman in lingerie so to speak, who is living off his wealthy wife Janet (Sue Lloyd) therefore has a bit of spare cash. If Phillips and Terry-Thomas had made this film together in their heyday, sparring with one another and trying to out-bounder their rival, then you might have had an entertainment to reckon with, yet alas by the stage Spanish Fly was made they were past their prime, and with a weak script attempting to marry their old school wit to newfangled sex comedy the results were rather sad and forlorn. Sure, there were some attractive, sunkissed Spanish locations, but it wasn't quite enough.

Not even with the four models Scott meets in the seaside town for a photo shoot to show off the latest in women's underwear, purely there for decoration judging by the extent of their characterisation: two of them barely get a line to speak. Of the other two, Nadiuska was the better known and gets the most to do, for she was a fairly recognisable star of European softcore; unfortunately, a couple of decades later she was making headlines for the wrong reasons when it was revealed she was living homeless in Madrid after suffering a mental breakdown. So with that in mind, you might not find much to laugh at.

Then again, even if you were not aware of the co-star's fate there was precious little amusing anyway, with Phillips' performance perfunctory as if he was strictly there for a holiday and the moviemaking was getting in the way, and Terry-Thomas similarly lacking pep, though he had more serious medical reasons for that: he only had a handful of films to go before he was forced to retire thanks to his Parkinson's diagnosis. This is probably making Spanish Fly sound like a Bergmanesque stare into the abyss of mortality, but it wasn't really, it was only a silly sex comedy with not much nudity (Nadiuska and Scottish model Andrea Allan provided that) though a lot of convoluted machinations.

After the wine is judged to be disgusting, Sir Percy has an idea and gets Perkins to try various blends of its content to see if he can improve the flavour. He does so, and in one sample he mixes in the famed aphrodisiac Spanish Fly (hence the title), which may or may not be a myth but is ideal for nonsense such as this, so soon the wine is much sought after, not least by Scott who finds it cures his impotence. With Janet heading over to the Continent to work out what has happened to her photo shoot, the pressure is on, especially as her husband has spent a large part of her fortune on the magic potion, but what do you know? There are unforseen side effects. Although Terry-Thomas didn't get into the sexual shenanigans, we did get to see Phillips wearing nothing but a strategically-placed pillow after one dalliance, and with Bob Kellett directing, himself no stranger to tatty comedy movies of this era, the titillation was as low as the laughter quotient. Music by Ron Goodwin, plus a jaunty theme song called "Fly Me".
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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