Directed by Donald Chaffey, best known for his fantasy films that included Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and One Million Years B.C. (1966), The Flesh is Weak is a 1957 British crime drama that forms part of The Best of British Collection released on DVD by Odeon Entertainment. The film stars the American actor John Derek probably best known for marrying Ursula Andress, Linda Evans and Bo Derek, and the Italian beauty Camilla ‘Milly’ Vitale as well as British stalwarts William Franklyn, famous for voicing the "Schhh... You Know Who" adverts for Schweppes from 1965 to 1973 as well as appearing in many feature films including Roman Polanski's psychological thriller Cul-de-sac (1966), well-known character actor Martin Benson and star of stage and screen Freda Jackson.
|John Derek and Shirley Anne Field.|
The naive 21year old Marissa Cooper (Vittale) arrives in London in search Of fame and fortune. She accepts the job of hostess at the Golden Bucket Club where she is the victim of some inappropriate attention from one of the punters, in steps the good looking Tony Gianni (Derek) and rescues her, offering her a better life if she goes with him, she readily agrees but little does she know that the manipulative Gianni is a pimp and that this is the first step in the grooming of her future role as a prostitute. When see realises the worst and tries to escape the clutches of the Gianni brothers her life is put in danger, only the investigative journalist Lloyd Buxton (Franklyn) can save her.
The story is inspired by the notorious Messina Brothers, who were a Maltese-based criminal organization that dominated London's underworld during the inter-war and post-WWII years. They run an extensive vice ring controlling a network of prostitutes who it was alleged could earn in the region of £1000 per week, a lot of money for the 1940’s and 50’s. It was crime journalist Duncan Webb of The People newspaper that eventually helped exposed these ‘Emperors of Vice’ and the protection they were afforded by some members of Scotland Yard.
Another hidden gem of British cinema, which manages to captured the sleazy atmospherics of London’s 1950’s Soho. This X rated shocker scandalised the British film industry at that time and can still be viewed as a serious film about a very real life problem, the exploitation of woman and post war street prostitution. But like Norman J Warrens Her Private Hell (1968), seems pretty tame by todays standards. This beautifully restored new print is well worth a look.