Confessions of a Window Cleaner is a 1974 British sex comedy film, directed by Val Guest.
Like the other films in the Confessions series; Confessions of a Pop Performer, Confessions of a Driving Instructor and Confessions from a Holiday Camp, it concerns the erotic adventures of Timothy Lea, based on the novels written under that name by Christopher Wood. Each film features Robin Askwith and Antony Booth.
The optimistic and inept Timothy Lea is freshly employed by his brother-in-law Sid as a window cleaner. With Sid an impending father to be, he looks to Timmy to fully 'satisfy' his customers, little realising that Timmy's accident prone ways often stretch to his sex life with his clients. Timmy bed hops from unsatisfied housewives to even a lesbian love tryst, all the while with his main eye on successful police officer, Elizabeth Radlett, who will have none of Timmy's sexual advances. He proposes as a result, much to his family's upset, unaware that Timmy's usual run of luck will affect the outcome.
- Robin Askwith .... Timothy Lea
- Antony Booth .... Sidney Noggett
- Bill Maynard .... Mr Lea
- Dandy Nichols .... Mrs Lea
- Sheila White .... Rosie Noggett
- Linda Hayden .... Elizabeth Radlett
- John Le Mesurier .... Inspector Radlett
- Richard Wattis .... Carole's Father
- Joan Hickson .... Mrs Radlett
- Melissa Stribling .... Mrs Villiers
- Sam Kydd .... 1st Removal Man
- Lionel Murton .... Brenda's Landlord
- Katya Wyeth .... Carole
- Sue Longhurst .... Jacqui Brown
- Anita Graham .... Ingrid
- Brian Hall .... 2nd Removal Man
- Robert Longden as Apprentice
Critical reception and impact
It has been called, "perhaps the best known and most successful British sex film" of the era, and was the top-grossing British film of 1974. As well as its sequels in the Confessionsseries it spawned another unrelated series of films which began with Adventures of a Taxi Driver (1976). The film made Robin Askwith a star in the UK. When the films were originally released they were regarded as very risqué and essentially soft core pornography, owing to the amount of nudity involved – generally female, with Robin Askwith being the only male shown naked. However the sex scenes themselves are more suggestive than explicit, being essentially played for laughs. Nonetheless, it was not until 1997 that Channel 5became the first British terrestrial channel to show the entire series of Confessions films. At this time the Daily Mail newspaper was very critical of the sexual content of Channel 5's late night schedule, referring to Channel 5 as Channel Filth and the Confessions series as "Films from the darkest days of British cinema".
The film was a popular hit for the British sexploitation genre, while film critics reportedly loathed it and decried it as a "tawdry" and vulgar spectacle. Sian Barber points at this contradiction between the popular taste and the critics' notions of quality, and concludes that it offers significant insights on actual "audience preferences". Preferences shaped by "the tastes, values and frustrated desires of ordinary filmgoers". The film was a box office hit. In a cited example of a cinema in the West End of London, the film was screened for nine weeks, with 29 performances per week, and earning over £30,000. In January 1975, the Eady Levy tax fund estimated that it had raised £200,000 from this film alone. By 1979, profits had exceeded £800,000. Yet, Robin Askwith recalled that film industry opinions were "totally negative" towards the film and dismissive of its success with the public. In retrospect, Leon Hunt concluded that the film benefited from a combination of adult entertainment with "good clean fun", an appealing cast, and the popularity of the source novels.
Leon Hunt, examining the reviews of the film series, notes some highlights. Margaret Hinxman, film critic of the Daily Mail, wrote negative and increasingly exasperated reviews for every installment of the Confessions series. She called the original a "puerile sex farce" and compared the rest of them to latrinalia. Alexander Stuart, writing for the magazine Films and Filming. claimed that the films is a real confession, a confession that the British people can not properly create films, erotic images, comedy, or anything related to love. The films were unfavourably compared to the Carry On series (1958–1992), which the critics found harmless in comparison. David Robinson, writing for The Times claimed that the commercial success of the films was based on the sexual infantilism of the viewers. A rare dissenting voice among critics was Virginia Dignam, writing for the Morning Star, who offered positive reviews of the film series.