The Riding Lesson
The Riding Lesson is a British spanking film photographed by George Harrison Marks, produced by Marks and Peter Lukas, and released by Janus on Super 8mm colour film in December 1978, priced at £20. Although silent and short (6½ minutes), it was an ambitious production by the standards of British spanking cinema, especially at this early stage in its history.
Elizabeth Anne Kindersley, a glamorous blonde equestrian, rides into Jack Illsley’s livery stables, dismounts, and hands her horse over to the groom before entering the tack room. There she surprises teenaged schoolgirl Susie Illsley, who is sitting on a bale of straw, drinking alcohol and smoking. Elizabeth Anne threatens to tell Mr Illsley about this misbehaviour unless Susie consents to engage in lesbian sex with her. Without any sign of reluctance, Susie is very soon licking Elizabeth Anne’s nipples while having her bare buttocks fondled.
After about a minute of this, Jack Illsley enters, a craggy-featured middle-aged man with a moustache and a tweed jacket. Shocked by what he sees, he grows red-faced with anger, grabs his daughter, bends her over, and applies around a hundred very light and rapid spanks to her bottom, which turns a pale shade of pink. While Susie writhes in exaggerated pain, an excited Elizabeth Anne urges him on, laughing and applauding. Illsley then bends her over the straw bales too, pulls down her jodhpurs and knickers, and whips her with her own riding crop. The action grows frenzied in pace and about 130 light blows are seen to land on her bottom; only the staff of the crop makes contact, however, never the stingy tab. A few strokes are aimed at Susie now and then; she rubs her cheeks vigorously while Elizabeth Anne struggles and shouts. Illsley storms out and the film ends with the camera zooming in on two spanked bottoms side by side.
A photographic still from The Riding Lesson, showing Illsley spanking Susie’s bare bottom, appeared on the front cover of Janus Vol.8 No.3, which devoted ten of its sixty-four pages to publicising what it called ‘the most fantastic spanking film we’ve ever seen’. The magazine printed fourteen colour photographs taken on set, alongside a couple of monochrome shots of Marks in the editing room, to accompany an enthusiastic review by John Donnelly.
Donnelly presented the film as the long-awaited first collaboration between two highly experienced and successful filmmakers, George Harrison Marks, ‘producer of the longest-running film in the West End, Come Play With Me, and the highly acclaimed and sought-after film director Peter Lukas’. The two were said to have dreamt up the project at a meeting in the tax haven of Malta (‘where both reside on the odd occasions when not working’). Marks is quoted as saying, ‘We don’t need to go back into the glamour business again, but we just want to prove that films of much, much higher standard can be produced for the home-movie market and at prices that don’t make them prohibitive for the ordinary guy to purchase’.
Much was made of the genuineness of the punishments. ‘In this game you can have anything you want, any time, anyhow, any place, provided you’re prepared to pay for it,’ says Lukas, ‘and George and I are always prepared to pay to get it right’.
Janus, having bought the exclusive right to sell The Riding Lesson in the United Kingdom, urged its readers to invest in a projector in order to avoid missing out on ‘the best ever spanking film’. Reaction to the preview showing at the Janus office was reported to have been ‘stunned silence followed by cries of encore’. The magazine hoped that the film would be the first of a series.
Compared with earlier British spanking films, generally shot in a single nondescript room, The Riding Lesson appears lavish and professional, thanks primarily to location filming at a real stables. There are seven outdoor establishing shots (in which at least three different horses appear) and the tack room looks authentic.
Care was clearly taken with the costumes in the expectation that many viewers would be school uniform or jodhpur fetishists as well as spankers. Elizabeth Anne wears immaculate equestrian attire: a black jacket with a red carnation in the button-hole, tight cream-coloured jodhpurs, a white blouse and stock, and black leather boots. Susie’s uniform comprises a grey skirt with box pleats, a grey blazer, grey pull-over, white blouse, grey socks, and dark-blue knickers; a black beret falls from her head almost immediately. All this supports the assertion in Janus that attention had been paid to the tiniest detail.
There is a noticeable failure of continuity, however, in the first thirty seconds of the film: Elizabeth Anne is first seen handing her horse to the groom and walking away; then she is shown leading the horse into the tack room. Of course, this does not diminish the essential appeal of The Riding Lesson. Good indoor lighting ensures a clear view of the spanking action, which starts after 2 minutes 40 seconds.
The role of Elizabeth Anne is played by Anne Hughes (aka Ann-Elizabeth), a British model and adult-film actress, not otherwise associated with spanking. Nude pictures of her appeared in such publications as Mayfair, Men Only, Knave, and The Sun during 1979. She also acted in a number of hardcore sex films for continental European producers (which explains her lip-licking and eye-rolling in the lesbian sequence). Titles include Big Tit Riders (Color Climax 1979), Négligé und Spitzenhöschen (Tabu 1979), and Pop Concert (Tabu 1980).
Big Tit Riders, directed by John Fortune, is directly related to The Riding Lesson. The films were clearly made in conjunction with each other at the same location. Anne Hughes wears identical clothes. The actor who plays Jack Illsley in the spanking film makes a passing appearance in the sex film. Even the plots are essentially similar, although the discovery of lesbian antics in the tack room leads to sex rather than spanking in the Color Climax film.
It appears that The Riding Lesson derived its high production values through collaboration with the mainstream European sex film industry. In this respect it is not altogether typical of British spanking cinema as it subsequently developed. It nevertheless turned out to be the first of a series of five films made by Harrison Marks for Janus with the word ‘Lesson’ in the title; its successors were The Gym Lesson (1979), The School Lesson (1979), The Nurse’s Lesson (1980), and The Prefect’s Lesson (1981).
Technological change soon rendered the format of The Riding Lesson out of date, but it was one of three silent films selected by Janus for re-release in 1980 on a compilation video cassette.