As might be suggested from the title, almost every line of Sextette is an innuendo. Being set in London, we are treated to jokes about stiff upper lips and Big Ben. Some of the lines are Christmas cracker level funny but the sheer amount of predictable smut and the shotgun approach is wearying.
The only thing creakier than the screenplay is the star, Mae West. Looking as if she’s risen from the dead, her mummified glamour still gets the lads going (watch as she flirts with a twenty-one year old athlete!). Inexplicably she is ageless in the eyes of her youngest husband yet, number 6 Sir Michael Barrington (Timothy Dalton). Everyone in the film turns a blind eye to the fact that she is in her mid-eighties and he’s thirty!
The theme tune is the most excruciating song, setting us up for the hotel staff randomly bursting into song-and-dance number ‘Hooray for Hollywood’ and ‘Love Will Keep Us Together’, an awkward duet between Dalton and West that is nauseating on many levels.
Dalton is actually the highlight of the film, managing to pull off (ho ho) a comic interview in which he mistakenly comes across as gay (which in 1978 was presumably hilarious in itself). Even though Michael is a toff, it is incredible how his assertion that he is always ‘gay and happy’ might be taken to mean that he is gay. More of the homoeroticism of sports can be found later in the film as geriatric Margo gyrates for an American athletics team.
Other bonkers highlights are Ringo Starr playing a manically camp fashion designer and Tony Curtis as panto Russian Alexei, who Margo needs to… keep sweet in order to achieve political diplomacy. Doing it for the good old USA. Thankfully the casual racism is kept to a minimum, or is rather overshadowed by the horror show that is elderly vamp Mae West in full Dracula mode.
I won’t bother giving an overview of the plot because there isn’t really much of one. All logic is defied as a cassette tape survives being baked into a cake. There’s more suspense in the fear that Marlo will consummate her new marriage than in the important world political conference that just happens to be happening in the same hotel.
So bad and yet strangely watchable, Sextette needs to be seen to be believed, and then hopefully wiped from your memory.