January 23, 2017

All Neat in Black Stockings (1968)

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When discussing “Swinging London” cinema as a genre in itself (as opposed to an offshoot of the more provincially-minded “Social Realism” movement), the same names tend to crop up: Alfie, Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush, Blow-Up, Performance, Up The Junction, Privilege, Darling, et al, and quite rightly so- all are classics, and deserve constant re-examination. Yet, as with any genre, there are always those that don’t, for whatever reason, quite garner the same appraisal, and slip the net, … [Read more...]

Faces in the Dark (1960)

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Those old bugbears of film history- orthodoxy, general consensus and received wisdom- tell us it’s difficult to fully engage with a film in which you feel little or no sympathy for the central character. Unless, of course, you’re the type who delights in watching the bleakest, most uncompromising, scarifying films on purpose to show how much of a hardened cineaste you really are. In which case, don’t worry- I was like that in my early 20s. You’ll get over it. Such beliefs are there to be … [Read more...]

The Pleasure Girls (1965)

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“Illicit love, passion, brutality, riotous parties and sudden heartbreak all play their part in this frank story of five bachelor girls who seek fame and fortune amid the bright lights of London.” A ‘Swinging London’ film of the mid-‘60s, The Pleasure Girls focuses on the life and times of five ‘bachelor’ girls living out of their Chelsea flat in a tight time frame of one weekend. Sally (Francesca Annis) is fresh from the countryside and drawn to London to move in with friends and begin … [Read more...]

The Party’s Over (1965)

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Forty-five years since the completion of The Party’s Over, the uncut original of this controversial and critic-battered film is finally to see the light of day. Rescued from the archives where it has lain since 1965, following the unsuccessful run of a heavily censored and edited version, the British Film Institute have published the uncut, pre-release film as part of its “Flipside” range of DVDs exploring obscure and hard to find pieces of British cinema. Facing extraordinary difficulty on … [Read more...]

Will Hay by Graham Rinaldi

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Once in a while, you come across a biography of a film star written not by an accredited film historian, or a professional writer on an assignment, but an uberfan. You can tell them by the copious illustrations sourced from "Authors Own Collection", a tendency towards hagiography, and a tedious writing style, such that you imagine meeting the author in the pub; he starts to tell you of his subject, you feel compelled to edge away before escaping through the toilet window. Well, while Graham … [Read more...]

Whatshisname: The Life and Death of Charles Hawtrey

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Though Hawtrey’s face and voice are familiar to anyone who has even flicked past a Carry On, few are familiar with his personal history or private life (ergo the title, Whatshisname) or the length and depth of his career. In truth the actor’s seedy and quite miserable private life are a great contrast to his charming onscreen persona and modestly impressive achievements in an acting career which started young, though never reached the heights he so desperately craved. These contrasts and … [Read more...]

The Moon and the Sledgehammer (1971)

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“Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen. I never go where the cock never crows, and of all the felt ‘ats I ever felt, I never ‘ad a felt ‘at felt like this felt ‘at felt.” Such magical words. The beautiful individuality of the English countryside circa the start of history’s greatest decade, captured forever on grainy, scratchy celluloid. Yes, you got that right- I said scratchy- as the existing transfer of this legendary, much-loved cult film, available only on DVD from its rights owner through a … [Read more...]