This year sees the 40th anniversary of one of the most famous British sex films of all time. Can You Keep It Up for a Week? was the first feature-length comedy made by the peculiar partnership of Crossroads creator Hazel Adair and wrestling commentator Kent Walton. Under the joint pseudonym ‘Ralph Solomans’, these odd bedfellows had previously produced a number of movies including the short It’s The Only Way to Go (1970) about a man who has a heart attack whilst watching a stripper, and Virgin Witch (1971), a sexploitation horror flick starring actress sisters Ann and Vicki Michelle. The latter film was successful enough for Adair to suggest that their next venture be an out-and-out sex drama. The resulting movie was Clinic Xclusive (aka With These Hands, 1971), a sordid story of a ruthless health farm owner who embezzles her wealthy clients after having sex with them. Clinic Xclusive was also the first time Adair and Walton adopted the new nom-de-plume ‘Elton Hawke’, a name they re-used for Can You Keep It Up For a Week?
In many ways Can You Keep It Up for a Week? is the textbook 1970s British sex comedy, boasting every single sexual stereotype from the bumper book of innuendo-laden farce. The film fills each second of its running time with a perfectly-matured mixture of soft-porn ingredients; we are presented with the frustrated middle-aged husband, the bored housewife, the flamboyant gay man, the whip-cracking lesbian, the nymphomaniac nurse, the predatory sex therapist, the bored stripper and a gaggle of giggly, sexually curious, over-age schoolgirls. This eclectic band of characters are thrown headlong into a quick-fire parade of ridiculous situations involving mistaken identities, misheard instructions, impromptu orgies and straight men dressing as women, all embellished with a bucket-load of double entendres (“I’ve got an adjustable spanner in my pocket!”), and phallic visual jokes aplenty.
Sadly, Mary Millington doesn’t appear in the film, but she was cast in the 1976 follow-up Keep It Up Downstairs (originally entitled Can You Keep It Up Downstairs?) where she participated in a hardcore version of the infamous ‘under-the-table’ sequence. Adair was so taken with Mary’s performance that she gave her one of the starring roles in her next sex comedy, shot over ten days in 1977, but never completed… you’ll be able to read all about Mary’s ‘lost film’ on this blog later in the year.
In the meantime, Can You Keep It Up for a Week? gets a shiny new DVD release for its 40th birthday, courtesy of Odeon Entertainment, and featuring delicious artwork and four-pages of sleeve-notes written by me. It’s available to buy on 27 January 2014.
All words © Simon Sheridan 2014