Eskimo Nell 40th Anniversary Special Edition Blu-ray Review
Written by Joel Harley
Blu-ray released by 88 Films
Directed by Martin Campbell
Written by Michael Armstrong, Stanley A. Long (idea)
1975, Region B, 85 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
Blu-ray released on 16th February 2015
Michael Armstrong as Dennis Morrison
Terence Edmond as Clive Potter
Christopher Timothy as Harris Tweedle
Roy Kinnear as Benny U. Murdoch
Rosalind Knight as Lady Longhorn
Lloyd Lamble as The Bishop
Although I consider myself to be largely supportive of my native British film industry, there's one area of filmmaking I believe we could quite easily do without: the bawdy sex comedy. From Carry On movies to Benny Hill's daft bollocking about, I find myself resolutely unamused and unaroused by the lot of it. So you can imagine my dismay when Martin Campbell's Eskimo Nell was plopped before me, playing out exactly as you'd expect such a cross between a Carry On movie and The Producers to – complete with the Benny Hill style chase around a table.
The plot: fresh out of film school, an ambitious young director lands himself a job with Benny U Murdoch's B.U.M Studios (my first eye-roll, post credits), making the producer's erotic Eskimo, Nell. The film's production, however, is plagued with problems from the start – the writer is a virgin, and the three backers all want something different out of the movie; erotica, western and kung-fu, respectively, each with a different leading lady. It's in its farce that Eskimo Nell is at its best; reminiscent of that scene in Extras in which Patrick Stewart pitches his hilariously awful movie idea to Gervais's Andy. “...and then all her clothes fall off.” Unfortunately, the rest of the film feels like actually watching Stewart's make-believe movie, and everything else that might entail.
What 'everything' amounts to is 'tits', mostly, and a lot of them. Christopher Biggins pops up as actor Jeremy, while there's a whole host of semi-recognisable British faces parading about throughout (Roy Kinnear, Doctor Who star Katy Manning, and Charlie the ex-Eastenders cab driver, for example) usually speaking in nothing but innuendo and gawping at the nearest pair of boobs. Of which there are also a lot, from the title credits (featuring a stark naked lady who isn't any of our leading ladies) onwards.
Still, it does have a strong story, well-told, for the most part. It's fitfully amusing (and even funnier than that, if you happen to be a fan of such carrying on) and well-acted – yes, even Biggins is quite good in it. There's some surprisingly good action during its most farcical moments, making Campbell's rise to director of James Bond films (plus a Green Lantern travesty that's best left alone) seem slightly less ludicrous in retrospect. Although he is the same Bond director who had Famke Janssen strangle a man to death with her thighs in Goldeneye, so it's not as though he's lost that eye for smut completely. Eskimo Nell is a perky, pert Brit comedy with just enough going for it to distract from its less than savoury moments. It does a good job with its busy, energetic story, but by the time it starts to get really good, the film's already over. The ripping off of The Producers carries through to its predictable end which is, at least, a break from the nudge-nudge, wink-wink smut.
Eskimo Nell is one of the subgenre's better efforts, at least managing to fit in a decent story, funny jokes and likeable characters alongside its more irritating elements. In spite of its daft carrying on, this retro Brit sex romp is one of the better ones.
Video and Audio:
This 40th anniversary edition looks great, re-mastered from original film elements and popping from the screen – just like the boobs do. By far the best thing about the film is the song which plays during its opening montage – which, no joke, I listened to at least ten times in a row as it played over the Blu-ray menu.
The Blu-ray comes with an audio commentary by writer Michael Armstrong and film historian Simon Sheridan (who also writes the booklet notes), a reversible sleeve, trailers and a bonus short film – a disappointing turnout, for a 40th anniversary.