The Sex Thief
The Sex Thief.jpg
Directed byMartin Campbell
Written by
Produced byTudor Gates
CinematographyGrenville Middleton
Edited byPeter Musgrave
Music byMike Vickers
Distributed byLMG
Release date
  • July 1973 (1973-07)
Running time
89 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The Sex Thief is a 1973 British sex comedy film starring David Warbeck, Diane Keen and Christopher Biggins. It was an early film credit for director Martin Campbell.

The film was released in North America (in January 1976) as Her Family Jewels, with added hardcore inserts performed by stand-ins for the original cast members.

Keen, quoted in the book The Worlds Greatest Scandals of the 20th Century, claimed: "Times were pretty hard and this is a comedy which I am not ashamed at having made. But it was bought by a company, which drafted in other actresses to make it look like I was doing erotic things from start to finish. It became incredibly filthy." The hardcore version was later released on video in The Netherlands (under the name Handful of Diamonds). The film was written by Tudor Gates and Michael Armstrong under the name Edward Hyde.

During the 2007 series of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, Biggins failed to get a question right about his character's name in the film as part of a bushtucker trial. He groaned, "The Sex Thief, God, that was a million years ago."


Grant Henry (David Warbeck), a writer of trashy paperbacks like The Dirty and the Dying, moonlights as a masked jewel thief who is usually caught in the act but is able to get away with his crimes by luring his female victims to bed. After these women lie to the police about the thief's identity ("who could disguise himself as a clubfooted coloured midget one week and a 6′6″ Russian with a harelip the next") and seem to want to get burgled again, the Inspector in charge of the case (Terence Edmond) and an insurance investigator trained in kung fu (Diane Keen) decide to lay a trap for the thief.


Censorship history

The Sex Thief was heavily cut by the British Board of Film Censors on its original release; cuts were made to the scene where the naked girl dances in front of Grant, and the inter-cutting between a further sex scene and a wrestling match. The film's speeded-up sex scene was ‘considerably reduced’, as was the scene where a handcuffed Grant is seduced by Judy. The current US and UK DVD releases are uncut.

Appearance in Texas murder trial

The film appeared as incriminating evidence in the 1987 trial against Michael Morton, wrongly convicted for murdering his wife. It was shown to the jury, in an effort to make them negatively disposed to Morton.[1]

Alternative version

The US Her Family Jewels/Handful of Diamonds version runs approximately 81 minutes (as opposed to the original 89-minute running time) and adds hardcore inserts[2] to every sex scene as well as an innocuous scene where the characters played by Terence Edmond and Diane Keen discuss the thief in a crowded pub, in which the hardcore inserts imply the two characters are masturbating each other under the table. Her Family Jewels deletes several narrative scenes that appear in the original version of the film—most notably the end credits and a subplot involving two detectives trying to sell pornographic films—but adds several newly shot hardcore scenes, in which footage of David Warbeck (taken from elsewhere in the film) has been briefly inserted. These scenes are scored to the pop song "Well Here I Go", which does not appear in the original film.


  1. ^ "The Innocent Man".
  2. ^ Sheridan,Simon (2011). Keeping the British End Up: Four Decades of Saucy Cinema. Titan Books Ltd