RITA, SUE AND BOB TOO! And CLOCKWISE: A BUMPER CHRISTMAS DOUBLE REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
RITA, SUE AND BOB TOO! 1987. DIRECTED BY ALAN CLARKE. STARRING GEORGE COSTIGAN, MICHELLE HOLMES, SIOBHAN FINNERAN, KULVINDER GHIR AND LESLEY SHARP.
CLOCKWISE. 1986. DIRECTED BY CHRISTOPHER MORAHAN. STARRING JOHN CLEESE, SHARON MAIDEN, ALISON STEADMAN, PENELOPE WILTON, STEPHEN MOORE AND JOAN HICKSON.
I always watch these two superb British comedies at Christmas, so I tend to think of ’em as Crimbo films even though there isn’t so much as a single mention of the ‘C’ word in either one of them.
When I first watched RITA, SUE AND BOB TOO! way back in the ‘Nineties, I laughed so much I was nearly sick. Ditto, CLOCKWISE, my copy of which came from a newspaper as a free gift in one of those dinky little square cardboard envelopes.
I love those little cardboard envelope films. I don’t know if newspapers really do them anymore though, which if it were correct would be really sad. End of an era and all that. I acquired nearly an entire collection of CARRY ON movies and the John Carpenter HALLOWEEN films that way, not to mention little gems like THE PIANO, THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS, KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS and SOPHIE’S CHOICE.
Sadly, THE NEWS OF THE WORLD who gave out CLOCKWISE as a much-welcomed free gift are now defunct, so there’ll be no more cinematic freebies from that quarter ever again. Sniffle…
RITA, SUE AND BOB TOO! is the story of two teenage girls living in squalor and poverty in Bradford in the ‘Eighties. They have a three-way sexual relationship with a more affluent married man whose wife hires them to babysit. It’s all fun and games for a while until the wife finds out from a friend what her hubby’s been getting up to and the proverbial hits the fan in a big way. Funny the way your sins always tend to find you out, isn’t it…?
The sex in this film is flippin’ hilarious, even though we should probably all be morally outraged at the notion of a much older married man taking the virginity of two schoolgirls temporarily in his care. The sex mostly takes place in Bob’s car, up on the nearby moors.
Legs with knickers hanging off of them are stuck out the car window to make more room as Bob, with his white naked backside bobbing up and down like the bleedin’ clappers, introduces first Rita and then Sue to what they elegantly refer to as a ‘jump.’ It’s messy, awkward, crude and about as romantic as a dose of the clap on your honeymoon. But the girls love it and seize every opportunity to ride the sleazy, cheeky but undoubtedly likeable Bob ragged. Good for Bob, haha.
God love ’em, they actually think they’re living the high life with Bob. I nearly choked on my tea when one of them remarks that ‘Bob really knows how to show a girl a good time…!’ F***ing hell. He shags them in his car and gives ’em a couple of quid for fags. ‘Nuff said.
The tagline for the film reads: THATCHER’S BRITAIN WITH HER KNICKERS DOWN. That just about sums it up. Yes, it’s hilariously funny but there’s a lot of grinding poverty, unemployment and lack of opportunities on display here as well. There isn’t much for girls like Rita and Sue to do when they leave school other than getting knocked up, with or without the benefit of matrimony, and living out the rest of their lives in council accommodation one step above slum-level. Still, I usually prefer to just focus on the funny, dirty sexy shenanigans when I watch the film. Call me shallow if you will, but that’s just the way I roll, heh-heh-heh.
Highlights include Sue chasing Bob and Rita across the moors with a shoe caked in cow-shit, Bob’s wife Michelle storming round to the council estate to have it out with her husband-shagging babysitters and Rita, Sue and Bob Too (see what I did there???) dancing their hearts out to the real-life Black Lace singing the wonderful Gang-Bang song. Remember Black Lace’s international hit, Agadoo…? What’s that? You were trying to forget it? Oh, of course. Right. Sorry…!
CLOCKWISE has John Cleese playing Brian Stimpson, the time-obsessed headmaster of an English comprehensive school who’s trying to make his way to Norwich for a very important headmasters’ conference. John Cleese, of course, is best known for being part of the Monty Python Team who brought us such films as THE LIFE OF BRIAN and also for playing Basil Fawlty, the eccentric, perpetually put-upon manager of a Torquay hotel. There’s a lot of Basil Fawlty in Brian Stimpson.
You know the way that Basil tends to complicate situations to a ridiculous degree until things have descended to the level of pure and utter farce? Brian Stimpson has a tendency to do the same thing.
The conference is desperately important to Brian. He’s been invited to chair the meeting and give a speech, which is significant because he’s the headmaster of a humble comprehensive school and all the other headmasters are the heads of expensive private schools for rich, privileged poshos.
It’s therefore vital that he gets there, but after he misses his train, loses his speech and is forced to accept a lift from one of his sixth-form students who just so happens to be mitching off school, things start to go rapidly downhill for poor old Mr. Stimpson.
If I told you that, at the end of his eventful journey, he ends up facing charges of grand theft auto, kidnapping, vandalism and assault, not to mention infidelity and indecent behaviour with one of his own pupils, it might just give you an idea of the extent to which this obsessive-compulsive man’s ordered and organised world has unravelled.
Mishaps galore befall him as he tries valiantly (He Who Would Valiant Be…?) to make the conference on time and prove to the poshos that the comprehensives are just as good as the private schools any day of the week.
Highlights include Basil, sorry, Brian, chasing after Laura down a quiet country road dressed as a monk while an elderly lady watches disapprovingly. Then there’s the smart-ass man on the tractor and the hilarious ‘undressing’ scene in the woods with Laura, the car salesman with the ‘three-hundred-guinea suit’ and ‘Father’ Brian Stimpson.
And what about the lovely Pat, who reunites happily with an old friend only to end up charged with assaulting a police officer? Also, let’s not forget the conference and the ill-fated speech itself, with lots of familiar faces amongst the headmasters.
My favourite highlights include the scenes with lovely old Joan Hickson who brilliantly portrays a dotty old lady in the CARRY ON films and in CLOCKWISE as well. John Cleese was born to play Brian Stimpson. He does a magnificent job. This film might well become part of your own favourite Christmas film selection if you only give it a chance.
I think we’ll finish on a hymn. Everybody up on your feet, that’s right. Come on, Tompkins, for heavens’ sake, hurry up and find yourself a seat. There’s one down here at the front. Take your time. We’ve nothing better to do than wait for you to make yourself comfortable. Are we ready? Right. Finally. Mr. Jolly, music, if you please. All together now. ‘He Who Would Valiant Be…’
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
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2) A WRITER’S JOURNEY
3) ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA
4) ANOTHER FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
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