Part bawdy peek-a-boo romp, part kitchen-sink drama, this box-office hit features then-rising star Victor Henry as Ginger, a twenty-year-old self-employed window cleaner whose womanising is curtailed when he finds himself falling in love for the first time.
Ginger shares most things in life – including girls – with his friend, Dwyer (Jack Shepherd) in a reciprocal arrangement. Then, he sees the beautiful Jill (18-year-old Susan George) – “all neat in black stockings” – in a south London pub. Her obvious innocence moves him, and he feels unable to make his usual approach. He realises that she is not only desirable but also something very special.
There are complications in Ginger’s life. An eccentric animal lover called Old Gunge (Terence de Marney) has to go into hospital and implores Ginger to look after his numerous pets in his absence. Ginger agrees and when he visits Old Gunge’s place he finds it an astonishing mixture of the bizarre and luxury.
He also has a sister who is married to hippie layabout Issur (Harry Towb) and one day Ginger takes them to see Old Gunge’s house. Issur is tremendously impressed by the luxurious surroundings and later Ginger asks Old Gunge if his sister can stay at his house until her baby arrives as she and Issur are being turned out of their rooms. Gunge agrees.
With that problem solved for the time being, Ginger is free to pursue Jill whom he meets again through another of his girlfriends. Dwyer is contemptuous of his friend’s romantic attachment and refuses to take it seriously.
There is also a formidable obstacle between Ginger and Jill – her possessive mother (Clare Kelly) who has a shrewd eye for predatory males who come after her daughter.
One evening, Ginger takes Jill and Dwyer to Old Gunge’s house, but on arrival, he is horrified to find Issur holding an orgiastic party of hippies who are well on the way to wrecking the place. Ginger leaves Jill in Dwyer’s care while he tries to get rid of the frenzied mob.
It takes him some time to succeed and when peace is eventually restored to the house, Ginger is dismayed to find that Dwyer, thinking Jill was another girl to be shared, has taken full advantage of the time at his disposal.
Ginger then realises what thousands of young men before him have discovered to their cost – that you can’t play fast and loose with sex without it backfiring on you. His troubles now begin to multiply . . .
The bold interlacing of sexual adventure, humour and tender love story instantly caught audiences’ imaginations with its evocation of London’s dingy back-street pubs and dubious characters marking it out as a cult classic.
The film featured the pairing of TV playwright Hugh Whitemore (who was so prolific he was nicknamed “Hugh Writemore”) and director Christopher Morahan (who would later produce TV’s Jewel in the Crown).
At least they went on to better things. But as randy window cleaner Ginger, Victor Henry got no higher up the ladder.
Terence de Marney