First up on this generous disc from Odeon Entertainment is CONFESSIONS OF A SEX MANIAC (a.k.a. THE MAN WHO COULDN'T GET ENOUGH; DESIGN FOR LUST), directed by Alan Birkinshaw pre-KILLER'S MOON and starring Roger Lloyd-Pack, who later went on to find fame as Trigger in the BBC's "Only Fools And Horses" (as well as sire Emily Lloyd ...).

The film is rather flatly shot with dull lighting and washed-out colours, but the storyline is anything but drab. Architect Henry (Pack) enjoys nothing more than slow, sensual lovemaking with beautiful women - so it's little surprise that, when he's tasked with filling in for his absent boss in the job of designing a new leisure centre, he plans to construct it in the shape of a giant tit.

With boss Bernard (Derek Royle; excellent in his small capacity) roaming America and Australia on the convention circuit, Henry sets about coaxing his secretary Hilary (Vicki Hodge) into assisting him in finding the perfect breast to work from.

Cue a succession of comely young women who strip and pose for Henry and his tape measure, many of them extending their willingness to jumping in the sack with him. Which is remarkable really, given his sourpuss expression, lank hair and dowdy brown suits.

In truth, the project doesn't seem to progress much further than these sexual bouts and a few makeshift sketches that are meant to constitute architectural designs. It doesn't matter: the story, though fun, is a non-starter logistically and the script may well be utterly banal, but the film at least offers a bevy of attractive females happy to get their boobs out at regular intervals.

What it all amounts to is a badly photographed, sloppily edited and rather plodding film (for 76 minutes) that nevertheless comes to life whenever the soft sex scenes are set up - performers include Ava Cadell and Cherri Gilham - before building to a predictable but agreeable conclusion.

Pack is not funny here and neither is the script. There is humour, but it's very gentle, extremely laidback. As are the sex scenes, which are also shot with ugly framing and useless lighting by Birkinshaw.

But, for those who appreciate KILLER'S MOON, you'll already know how Birkinshaw can make a film watchable, even when you know you can't sincerely defend its merits in any serious discussion.

Originally lensed as DESIGN FOR LUST, this quickie effort from 1974 was briskly retitled CONFESSIONS OF A SEX MANIAC in the hope of cashing in on the then-popular Columbia Pictures series of films starring Robin Askwith (CONFESSIONS OF A WINDOW CLEANER etc). However, an injunction from Columbia soon put paid to that notion, and the film was briefly withdrawn from distribution before enjoying a second lease of life on the Soho circuit under the re-release title of THE MAN WHO COULDN'T GET ENOUGH.

Decades later, and here the film is, complete with its most well-known (and better) title present.

The film looks pretty poor in 16x9 enhanced 1.66:1 but I'd wager this is the best it's likely to look.

English mono fares better, offering a clean and consistent playback throughout.

LOVE VARIATIONS, a Tigon production that hold the distinction of being Britain's first ever full-length sex education film (1969), follows.

Directed by David Grant (though credited to Terry Gould on the opening titles), this starts in laughably earnest style with a grey-haired relationship consultant - simply credited as "a family doctor" - introducing us to models 24-year-old Steve (Derek Stephen Tracy) and 22-year-old Carol (Carolyn Jones).

"Let us start the film by examining genitalia" suggests the well-spoken doctor.

And so, his monologue to camera continues for several minutes, interspersed occasionally by referrals to academic diagrams.

What everyone's waiting for, of course, are Steve and Carol to get it on. Which they do, in softcore style, their naked bodies practically motionless on sparse white sets save for their impassioned snogging.

They take us through several positions while the doctor continues to talk us through the clinical aspects of such acts: why they provide pleasure, how to optimise their impact, and so on.

By today's standards, it's all very tame and quite, quite ridiculous. But it retains a naive charm that lends it frequent rushes of unintentional hilarity in the doctor's dialogue. Okay, it's not erotic - but it's also worth noting that, for 1969, this contains a fair old bit of full-frontal nudity and (simulated) shagging.

The film is presented in 1.33:1 and benefits from a much brighter, more colourful and sharper picture than CONFESSIONS.

Again, the English mono audio is fine throughout.

An animated main page opens the disc in an attractive, colourful style which strives to echo the Soho-based double bills that both of these films featured on at various points throughout the 1970s.

Scene-selection menus appear on the disc's animated sub-menus for each film. CONFESSIONS has 6 chapters, LOVE also has 6 chapters.

Aside from a generous stills gallery that covers both films (stills beginning in black-and-white, before moving into colour), the only extras on Odeon's disc are original trailers for COOL IT CAROL, DIE SCREAMING MARIANNE, FRIGHTMARE, INTIMATE GAMES, SECRETS OF SEX, SPACED OUT and VIRGIN WITCH.

Perhaps the best addition to the package is a handsome 4-page colour booklet containing well-written notes on both films by Simon Sheridan. Succinct, relevant and interesting, they make for an excellent and informative accompaniment.

So, we get two oddities that between them enjoyed several years of success in Soho's sleazy cinemas of the 1970s. As relics of a day before the widespread advent of hardcore pornography, they offer an undeniably fascinating snapshot of an entirely different era to the one we live in now.

Despite the rough source materials employed for CONFESSIONS' transfer, Odeon Entertainment's Best Of British collection continues to impress.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Odeon Entertainment
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review