X-Rated: Adventures of an exploitation filmmaker

This is the autobiography of British exploitation legend Stanley Long, London’s answer to Russ Meyer, as ghosted by by Simon Sheridan.  Long started out as a photographer, then moved onto stag films for the 8mm home market, before making a couple of non-sex documentary shorts in the late 1950s. However, it was his nudie cuties Nudist Memories (1958), Nudes Of The World (1961) and Take Off Your Clothes And Live (1963) that first made him into a figure that anyone with more than a passing interest in cinema would want to check out. Long went on to make a very notable trilogy of mondo films: West End Jungle (1960), London In The Raw (1964) and Primitive London (1965), which take in both a series of night clubs and the commercial sex scene in Europe’s leading city. A good deal of the footage is faked, but these flicks are nonetheless crucial documents of London in the early to mid-sixties. Long is only listed as cinematographer and producer, but claims he was effectively their director; and that his business partner of the time – Arnold L. Miller – who took the main credit, had only a nominal role in the creation of these trash classics. Long certainly has plenty of interest to say about them. I’ll quote some blurb about West End Jungle to set the tone : “A journey into the dark heart of London, filmed in the actual places of vice…. West End Jungle offers the definitive insight into the seedy reality and cunning artifice of the sex workers of early 60s Soho.” (That’s from the sleeve of the recent DVD rather than Long’s autobiography).
Long’s first big successes were a couple of late mondo movies he made after splitting from Miller: The Wife Swappers (1969) and Naughty! (1971). The former is a series of vignettes about wife swapping, while the latter deals with pornography. In his book, Long details how he developed these projects without ever getting bogged down in boring detail. Less satisfactory are the accounts of the films from around the same time that were directed by his business partner of that era, Derek Ford. Movies like Groupie Girl (1969) simply aren’t as good as the more strictly documentary-style material over which Long appears to have exercised far greater control. X-Rated fails to make the point that Ford’s more fictional efforts are markedly inferior to the faked documentaries at which Long excelled.
Likewise, while the slightly later film Eskimo Nell (1974) is fun, Long talks it up rather too much. It isn’t nearly as good as the series that followed on from it: Adventures of a Taxi Driver (1975), Adventures of a Private Eye (1977) and Adventures of a Plumber’s Mate (1978). Long makes no bones about the fact that these films were a knock-off of the hugely successful Confessions comedies staring Robin Askwith. Personally I prefer the Adventure flicks, they show lots of London locations as I remember them from back in the day; Long didn’t have a big enough budget to hire a film studio. However, the section of Long’s autobiography covering these movies was a slight disappointment to me because I’d already heard most of the stories he relates on the commentaries he recorded for their DVD reissue. That said, Long very honestly admits that Private Eye is the weakest movie in the Adventures trilogy. With that one he moved away from blue collar jobs that lent themselves to picaresque narration. The strength of these films lies is their visual comedy, but the best scene in Private Eye takes place in a hostess club, and hinges on a series of verbal misunderstandings. Fred Emmey believes he is buying the services of a high class call girl, but this is actually Christopher Neil in drag, playing a private dick who is trying to purchase blackmail photographs from the wrong man.
Earlier on in his book, Long  provides some cool insights into a couple of cult film-makers via his work as a cinematographer on both _Repulsio_n (directed by Roman Polanski) and The Sorcerers (directed by Michael Reeves). Unfortunately, towards the end he tails off into a snore-fest of anecdotes about John Mills. Since Long surely knows he is far more interesting than a luvvie like Mills, I assume he ends his autobiography on this show-biz note in the hope of flogging a few extra copies to celebrity obsessives (one should not be surprised by this, it goes with his background as an exploitation film-maker). Despite the disappointing ending, X-Rated is still a fun read and useful source book on British exploitation cinema of the 1960s and 1970s.
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!


Comment by The Real Will Self on 2009-03-22 15:49:02 +0000

Stewart Home is boring!

Comment by The Real Will Self on 2009-03-22 15:49:59 +0000

Sorry I meant Stuart Home

Comment by Vincent Dawn on 2009-03-22 16:06:07 +0000


Comment by K Mail on 2009-03-22 16:36:04 +0000

But you singularly failed to mention my favourite Stanley Long film “Intimate Teeenage Secrets”.

Comment by The Fake Arnold L. Miller on 2009-03-22 16:52:45 +0000


Comment by Guy Debord on 2009-03-22 17:17:09 +0000

Stanley Long makes Gerard Lebovici look like a bourgeois plonker!

Comment by Syd Barrett on 2009-03-22 17:37:44 +0000

Stanley Long is a trip!

Comment by Kate Muir on 2009-03-22 23:46:56 +0000

Forget Stanley, Stewie is nothing but a heartache every day, tears pouring all down my face.

Comment by Charles Dexter Ward on 2009-03-23 00:49:12 +0000

The case for Long’s Adverntures series being superior to its Confessions inspirations is certainly compelling, but what about this director’s early eighties horror shorts released on tape in anthology form as Screamtime? No mention of that here although you blogged them not so long ago. And where’s Dom when you need him? So okay Dom could be a her but I think it’s a him.

Comment by The Man On The Clapham Omnibus on 2009-03-23 01:23:55 +0000

Ban black taxi cabs in London!

Comment by The Real Tessie on 2009-03-23 01:30:21 +0000

Stanley Long is a clear!

Comment by Carlsberg Boy on 2009-03-23 09:14:35 +0000

I like a beer with my soft porn!

Comment by Stewart Home on 2009-03-23 10:03:44 +0000

Yeah…All that Myspace palaver around about the time I was putting out ‘Memphis Underground’ with that groovy site designed by Snowbooks and ‘Nothing But a Heartache’ everyday on the sploshbox. And then K went and ruined it all….
How, I can’t quite remember but as a little girl I lost my doll and then met Kafka in the park. He told me my doll had gone away on a trip and I asked him how he knew that. He told me because he’d received a letter from my doll. When I asked to see it, he said he’d forgotten it but would bring it the next day. The next day, he was there and read the letter to me. My doll said she’d loved me and verything but needed to go away and see the world, meet new people. She promised to write everyday and so I kept coming back day after day to meet Kafka who would have another letter from her. Eventually, I knew so much about her life after she’d left me that I resolved to do the same thing myself. The letters ceased and within a year Kafka was dead.

Comment by Paul Auster on 2009-03-23 10:12:09 +0000

The first thing that Michael K did when he joined the ‘Michael K’ multiple name prohject was to book himself in at an artificial insemination clinic in Tottenham. Having prepared a sigil from a magickal wish he’d written down and reduced according to a method dictated to him by writer Grant Morrison, he then proceeded to project this sigil’s image into his moment of orgasm, leaving the clinic to choose who would then receive his genetic wealth. K’s will was that all should be one, that through the schiz and the multitude, we would finally overcome alientation and power.

Comment by Michael K on 2009-03-23 10:15:27 +0000

A new version of ‘The House of Nine Squares’ containing the correspondence I ‘underwent’ with ‘Stewart Home’ in order to ‘become’ ‘myself’.

Comment by howling wizard, shrieking toad. on 2009-03-23 11:31:57 +0000

Paul Auster borrows liberally from Knut Hamsun, Theophile Gaultier, Hugo Ball,Maupassant and Arthur Cravan –and popularises and sanitises them for a new audience. Very middle brow.
It’s not good. I am not going back to my cave now.

Comment by howling wizard, shrieking toad. on 2009-03-23 11:32:57 +0000

Oh, and Bruno Schulz — no wonder Auster was ( reputedly ) Jerzy Kosinski’s editor.

Comment by Paul Auster on 2009-03-23 17:46:09 +0000

What I do is remove all the shite that elitist postmodernist trendies with tattoos and an unfinished degree in philosophy have shoved up the chip in the shoulder-arse. Then I just tell a story and go. Take Acker AND Cervantes into the shower? No…I just Borges and go!

Comment by Gilles Deleuze on 2009-03-23 17:49:49 +0000

What is pertinent here is lack and lack-of-lack which the desiring machines in production of production fill the body with organs with with (sans) without. Can I get a wiiiiitness?

What really matters here is the attempt by Stewart Home to seize licensing (including unlimited sublicensing rights) and the right to make derivative works from respondents in this blog-rack. It’s well known that mosty of Home’s novelettes have been forged from hard plagiarism and now that he’s slipped inexorably into middle age coffee-table-baiting action on The South Bank, been recuperated by the frilly sugar cubes at the Tate, and (goes on for another twenty minutes in this fashion), it’s time to take back the streets by reviving the career of Michael Winner by re-forgetting his previous categorisations and opening a new slot under ‘Trash’. Let Charles Bronson out of prison!!!!

Comment by Msmarmitelover on 2009-03-24 08:29:51 +0000

By turns adoring or insulting.

Comment by Doris Stokes on 2009-03-24 12:54:51 +0000

You’ve got to turn over the soil, let the slaters run riot and prepare for planting new seeds as well as tending to the ones that are already growing. To the allotments!!

Comment by Michael K on 2009-03-28 12:05:28 +0000

Dig deep, Doris! We need to reconstitute some deactivated viral antipathy in order to intercede wth the Holy Gnosis!!

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