The Pleasure Principle

From Victorian voyeurism to Soho striptease: how a hidden film industry emerged to satisfy the sexual appetites of (male) viewers.

Sex and cinema have been bawdy bedfellows almost since the first flickering frames hit a screen. As early as 1896, saucy shorts were already being cranked out to titillate voyeuristic - and invariably male - Victorian viewers. Time and tastes have moved on, and taboos have been swept away, but sex remained a constant preoccupation, and filmmakers continued to explore, enact and exploit our deepest, darkest desires - often attracting the attention of the censor in the process. This highly-combustible collection revisits and contextualises these sometimes scandalous, oft-disreputable films, incorporating 'mondo'-style exposés of Soho striptease, voyeuristic studies of British nudists and tragic tales of good girls gone bad - and much more besides.

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Biopic197025 minsDirector: Christian Marnham

Astonishing 1970s striptease knife-throwing act with the last of the Wild West showmen, Wally Shufflebottom Snr

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Strip! Strip! Hooray!!! Or (Fun with the Sunbathers)Strip! Strip! Hooray!!! Or (Fun with the Sunbathers)

Comedy193235 minsDirector: Norman Lee

Stuffed-shirt party pooper Sir Hector infiltrates a sunbathing camp full of scantily clad jazz-swingers in this 1930s comedy

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Soho Striptease ClubsSoho Striptease Clubs

19587 minsSilentDirector: John Rhodes

Intrepid investigative journalist Daniel Farson ventures deep into the heart of Soho to explore the hidden world of afternoon Striptease Clubs.

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Secret RitesSecret Rites

Documentary197147 minsDirector: Derek Ford

'King of the Witches' Alex Sanders initiates doe-eyed Penny into the ways of his coven.

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Primitive LondonPrimitive London

Documentary196587 minsDirector: Arnold Louis Miller

Arnold Louis Miller's follow-up to London in the Raw lifts the lid on society’s decay with its sideshow spectacle of 60s London depravity.

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London in the RawLondon in the Raw

Documentary196447 minsDirector: Arnold Louis Miller

Low-budget movie mogul Arnold Louis Miller concocted this exploitation-style documentary which peers behind the grimy net curtains of British life.

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Over ExposedOver Exposed

Drama197736 minsDirector: Dennis London and David Grant

Aye aye, Captain! Sex comedy hijinks on the Thames near Twickenham in this forgotten saga of a switched-on snapper

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Drama197090 minsDirector: Lindsay Shonteff

When Suzy arrives in London to visit an old school friend, she is unwittingly plunged into the ruthless world of the ‘groupie’.

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Her Private HellHer Private Hell

Drama196780 minsDirector: Norman J. Warren

The cautionary tale of an innocent girl abroad who gets caught up in the sleazy world of modelling.

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That Kind of GirlThat Kind of Girl

Drama196377 minsDirector: Gerry O'Hara

A cautionary tale about VD and the dangers of free-love set against a backdrop of smoky jazz clubs and evocative London locations.

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The Big Switch (Strip Poker)The Big Switch (Strip Poker)

Crime196868 minsDirector: Pete Walker

Tough gangster film directed by British exploitation stalwart Pete Walker in which a man-about-town is implicated in the murder of a blonde

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Passport to ShamePassport to Shame

Crime195890 minsDirector: Alvin Rakoff

Diana Dors plays a sex worker with Herbert Lom as her sleazy pimp in this fierce and fiery thriller of 1950s prostitution on the London streets.

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From Stags to StardustFrom Stags to Stardust

Documentary197743 minsDirector: James C. Katz

Splendid 1970s striptease documentary starring Ivor Dickier, one-time Mr England runner-up

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Period drama193593 minsDirector: Paul L. Stein

Paul L. Stein’s period romance tells the story of a composer (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) whose relationship with a woman (Gertrude Lawrence) inspires his success.

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Drama197690 minsDirector: Stewart Mackinnon

Stewart Mackinnon’s avant-garde adaptation of Marquis de Sade’s infamous erotic novel has been near impossible to see since 1976.

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Maisie's MarriageMaisie's Marriage

Drama192396 minsSilentDirector: Alexander Butler

Family Planning: The Movie. The film they didn't want you to see in 1923.

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Moulin RougeMoulin Rouge

Drama1928127 minsSilentDirector: E.A. Dupont

E. A Dupont’s (Piccadlly, Variete) tale of intrigue amid the famous dance-halls of Paris was one of the most lavish British films of the silent era.

More Pleasure Principle films in our Free collection.

More related films in our Rentals collection, Sex.

More related films in the Rentals collection, Other Grooves.