Tuesday 19 January 2016

The Adventures of Liz Fraser

I love Liz Fraser. I think she's a cracking actress who has never put in a dud performance in her life. She's worked with legends of the silver screen such as Sid James, Tony Hancock, Jimmy Edwards, Margaret Rutherford and Peter Sellers. She has appeared in four Carry Ons, countless other classic films such as Double Bunk, Two Way Stretch and I'm All Right Jack and featured in several of the wonderful Hancock's Half Hours on television.

Liz's career endured through the sixties, seventies and eighties although sadly the early flourish of her starring roles in those top quality British comedies didn't continue at such a pace due to changes in the film industry in this country. While Liz was always in demand and guested in many legendary shows, her film career had dried up by the mid 1970s. Liz had made the conscious decision in the mid 1960s to move away from blonde bombshell comedy parts as she wanted to be seen as a versatile character actress. Straight parts in films did materialise but sadly those titles (The Painted Smile; The Americanisation of Emily)  have faded into obscurity. 

In more recent times Liz has commented that had she known in 1963 that the Carry Ons would have continued for the next fifteen years, she may have starred in several more after her original departure after Cabby. Sadly this wasn't the case, although she did subsequently become involved with another infamous series of British film comedies - the Confessions films. I'm no fan of the Confessions films as I've said before but somehow they did manage to secure the services of many top comedy performers including the likes of Irene Handl, Windsor Davies, Ian Lavender, John Le Mesurier, Joan Hickson, Carol Hawkins, Bill Maynard and Richard Wattis. Liz joined the rather rude antics on two occasions, first of all with Confessions of a Driving Instructor in 1976 and then again a year later in Confessions from a Holiday Camp. 

I think I read somewhere that the producer of the Confessions films was frightened to approach Liz to appear in the film as, because of her reputation in those earlier films, he thought she'd turn it down flat. Liz has always been game though and she took up the challenge. Although never going as far as many of the other actresses in those films, her parts in the Confessions comedies were far more raunchy and revealing than any of her other film appearances. By the time Liz appeared in these films she was in her late 40s so good for her I say. 

After demonstrating her willingness to play ball in the Confessions films, Liz went on to appear in several other saucy titles of the era. They included Adventures of a Taxi Driver, Adventures of a Private Eye and Rosie Dixon: Night Nurse. These films all followed a similar pattern to the Confessions comedies. In her autobiography, Liz did not appear to regret making these films, despite wishing she'd been taken more seriously during her acting career. In fact Liz seemed quite proud of them and obviously enjoyed the experience of appearing in those rather rude scenes with the likes of Robin Askwith and Barry Evans. 

I can't help wondering why an actress of Liz Fraser's calibre would go on to make so many of these dubious comedy films. My feeling is there probably wasn't a great deal of other film work around in Britain at the time. That would explain why so many legendary comedy actors chose to appear in them. 

So what do you think of Liz Fraser's roles in those saucy seventies sex comedies? Do you like the genre or would you have preferred Liz to steer clear of that side of the British film industry. 

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