Blu-Ray Review | "The Sex Thief"

Who would have guessed that the debut feature of Martin Campbell, director of Casino Royale, Goldeneye, The Mask of Zorro and Green Lantern would be such a randy piece of work?

1974's The Sex Thief came along at a time when cheeky British sex comedies were in their prime. It was a genre created in response to the increasingly graphic films coming out of Europe, which gave foreign films the slightly risque reputation they sometimes still have today.

While Campbell would go on to direct two James Bond films (Goldeneye and Casino Royale), it was clear from the outset that he had a soft spot for the series, and imbued his hero, a swarthy jewel thief lothario, with a bit of Bond's trademark swagger and charm.

The film could have used a bit more of Bond's adventurous spirit, however, because it's little more than soft core pornography. The jewel thief breaks into women's houses, and rather than stealing jewels ends up ravishing them all night long. As his legend grows, women actually begin baiting him to sneak into their rooms for a night of unbridled passion. It's a pretty standard porn "plot," and Campbell attempts to add some decidedly British cheek to the affair, but the endless sex scenes become tiresome after a while. British sex comedies produced a few jewels at their height, Val Guest's Au Pair Girls (which was also given a Blu-ray release by Kino just last year) among them.  But The Sex Thief  quickly wears out its welcome.

There's simply too much sex and not enough wit. Campbell's light touch shines through at times, but he's basicially directing a porno, and porn was never meant to sustain a viewer over a full 90 minutes. David Warbeck does a fine job of channeling Sean Connery's Bond in the title role, but the film never rises above itself or musters enough wit to justify its running time. Campbell may have demonstrated a knack for lighthearted capers, but he's trapped here by the material. Kino's Blu-ray release (through its erotic Jezebel label) is passable if not spectacular (with quite a few scratches and imperfections still visible), and contains no special features. Those interested in Campbell's career or exploitation films in general may find something to like here, but like most exploitation films it promises much and delivers very little.

GRADE - ★½ (out of four)

Now available on Blu-ray and DVD from Kino Lorber.


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