30 June 2018

SEX COMEDY 'ESKIMO NELL' (1975) AND THE SCREENPLAYS OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.




ESKIMO NELL. (1975) SCREENPLAY BY MICHAEL ARMSTRONG.
DIRECTED BY MICHAEL CAMPBELL. PRODUCED BY STANLEY LONG.
STARRING MICHAEL ARMSTRONG, CHRISTOPHER TIMOTHY, ROY KINNEAR, CHRISTOPHER BIGGINS, ROSALIND KNIGHT AND PORN STAR MARY MILLINGTON BEFORE SHE WAS WIDELY-KNOWN.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

'Michael Armstrong is creating history by being the first film-maker to publish his entire screenwriting output. With the original uncut screenplays in print for the first time ever and peppered with a mixture of wildly entertaining anecdotes, astounding behind-the-scenes revelations, creative and educational insights and brutal 'no holds barred' honesty, these books are guaranteed to provide a completely new kind of reading experience while offering a unique insight into the movie industry. Starting from his first professional screenplay written in 1960 when he was only fifteen and which he subsequently directed in 1968, the books will ultimately encompass a career that has spanned over fifty years. The books will include not only those screenplays which made it onto a cinema screen but, for the first time ever, all those that didn't- and the reasons why...'
Taken from the writer's own website.



'I can't do it, Benny, I just can't do it! I'm just not capable of writing the first all-British pornographic Kung Fu musical western: least of all when three different girls and a drag queen all think they're going to be playing the same part!'

'Right then, the opening shot of the film is a big close-up of this bleedin' great pair of tits...
but do it with integrity...'

'Acting? Acting? You didn't tell me I had to act! Listen, I don't mind getting screwed but I'm not doing any of that acting stuff! What sort of a girl do you take me for?'

'It's all terribly wholesome family entertainment, like Hamlet... but nicer.'

'Yes, but what's my motivation for having an erection...?'

'Oooooh, what lovely buns...!'

'As funny as a CARRY ON but with way more knobs and knockers, and all done tastefully and with integrity, of course.'
Sandra Harris, 
Film reviewer.

This sex-comedy is about the maddest, most bonkers film I've ever seen, and with one of the best-written, wittiest scripts into the bargain. The script was penned by the deliciously bitchy Michael Armstrong, whose gorgeous script-books I've had the pleasure of reviewing over the last few months, according as they roll off the presses at Michael's publishers, PAPER DRAGON PRODUCTIONS.

The books published thus far include HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS, THE BLACK PANTHER, THE IMAGE, the film of which starred a young David Bowie, GHOST TOWN, A STAR IS DEAD, BEELZEBUB and now ESKIMO NELL, the saucy-as-hell sexploitation comedy that pokes wicked fun at the movie industry, something Michael is well-placed to write about after his long and fruitful career.

I say this every time I review one of Michael's books, but his brilliant HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS has the distinction of being the only film ever to star horror legends Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Vincent Price and John Carradine all in the one place. It's a
terrific tribute to the four lads and a fantastic horror film to boot, with loads of creepy moments, a few good laughs and a fabulously spooky old manor house as the setting.

Now, on to ESKIMO NELL, which has been described by film historian Simon Sheridan as 'one of the funniest and most candid comedies ever made about home-grown movie-making.' Producer Stanley Long comments: 'I'd go so far as to say that he (Michael Armstrong) was the very best script-writer in the exploitation industry. There was nobody better.' Let me see if I can do justice to the plot.

Okay, so not only has Michael Armstrong written the script for this but he also plays the leading role as well. And he was so cute and handsome back then! Tall and well-built with lovely shiny hair and great taste in shirts, he plays Dennis, a 'brilliant young newcomer' of a film school graduate who has yet to direct anything.

'Please, sir, are there any jobs going for film directors? I've just left film school and I'm ready for my big break.' Well, aren't we all, Dennis? I love the absolute naiveté of that mind-set.

As it is, however, Dennis does strike it lucky when he meets Benny U. Murdoch of B.U.M. PRODUCTIONS, a sleazy little film producer wonderfully played by Roy Kinnear (WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA).

Benny is only interested in one kind of film-making: porn. Here's what he thinks in a nutshell:

'Doesn't matter whether it's England, America, Japan... You get a bird up there pulling her knickers down and it's something they can all understand. I mean, which would you rather see? Some arty-crafty sort of film or a bloody great pair of tits? I mean, stands to reason, don't it?'

Benny wants to make a mucky movie called ESKIMO NELL, based on an old epic poem of the utmost bawdiness, and a thrilled Dennis is given the job of directing it. Well, a job's a job, innit? Dennis's quiet librarian friend, Harris, played by Christopher ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL Timothy, is given the job of writing the script, even though his main interest is penguins and not stonking great pairs of tits.

Speaking of which, Benny is really excited about this project:

'Right. We'll get some really classy birds, you know? None of your appendix scars when they strip off.' Oh Benny Benny Benny, you complete and utter perv, you...

The cunning Benny makes Dennis, Harris and their mate Clive wholly liable for the movie's financing. Then, when Benny buggers off with his busty girlfriend and all of the backers' money, Dennis and his two equally gormless chums have no choice but to make the film the backers are expecting, or they'll be liable for the return of the backers' dosh, see? Which of course they don't have. They're all stony-broke...

The trouble is that each of the backers expects a totally different kind of film. Posh socialite Lady Longhorn thinks that ESKIMO NELL is to be a lovely wholesome family film along the lines of THE SOUND OF MUSIC. When she hears that it's based on an old poem, she rhapsodises as follows:

'Oh, I do so love adaptations from the classics...!'

Oh boy, is she in for a rude awakening. When she observes that Harris is into penguins, she deadpans in her plummy voice in all seriousness:

'What a charming hobby. My late husband was a keen ornithologist. He specialised in tits...!'

Pornographer Big Dick (yep, that's his name!) is unambiguous as to what he requires:

'I don't want any bullshit, what I need is ninety minutes of good solid hard-core pornography, okay? And you, Dennis, none of that simulated crap. I wanna see everything, so you shoot it for real. All I want to see on that screen is lots of tits, lots of asses and lots of fucking. I want to see girls being whipped, plenty of flagellation, bondage, rubber appliances, leatherwear, chains,
lesbianism, kinky gadgets, and you can throw in a bit of bestiality at the same time, for good measure. Okay? Then, in the second scene, we'll have-'

I nearly choked on my custard cream when I read that last sentence there, lol. The girl Big Dick has in mind for the lead role has her own ideas about the character she's to play:

'I guess I'd like her to be kind of romantic, you know? A sort of Scarlett O'Hara who gets laid all the time...!' Well, okay then...

Another backer demands the making of the first all-British Western movie and yet another, the world's first Kung Fu musical. The lads have a gargantuan task ahead of them, to make several different versions of ESKIMO NELL without any of the backers finding out about the other versions. A million hilarious mishaps mar their progress, which is accompanied by some very clever sight gags you should really enjoy.

Michael himself, as earnest, posh-voiced director Dennis, gets to make one of the funniest speeches in a film that's already awash with funny speeches. Here, he's directing one of the cast:

'She's still very nervous of this strange new social environment while, subconsciously, her suppressed desire to free herself from her working class background is manifesting itself in an active state of rebellion against the microcosm in which see sees herself placed by the proletariat. Now, I want you to try and get all that across to us with your left nipple, okay?'

Okay Dennis, you mad thing, you! I won't give away any more of the plot except to say that the film culminates in an hilarious mix-up whereby the wrong version of the film gets shown erroneously at the Royal Command performance in front of Her Madge. And I bet you lot can guess which version, can't you? Of course you can, you mucky buggers...!

All of Michael's script-books are beautifully presented, with gorgeous glossy covers and tons of anecdotes, reminiscences and observations inside on the film industry of the day, on which Michael is an expert, having had first-hand experience. He's even publishing the scripts of films that didn't get made, although they bloody well should have because they're bleedin' marvellous.

They'd make a smashing present for a film buff such as myself. To have such gorgeous books in my collection is a privilege. They'll have to prise them out of my cold dead hands before I'll relinquish them, lol. Oh, and 'Seventies Michael? Call me, 'cause you're totally my type...!

Michael Armstrong's script-books are available from retailers, Amazon and direct online at www.paperdragonproductions.com/shop



AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com








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