A slightly belated RIP to Michael Winner. While he became something of a national joke/treasure/pompous buffoon in his later life, I maintain that his early films show a brilliance which very few people appreciate. The Jokers and I’ll Never Forget What’s ‘isname are two of my most favourite films of that period, the latter has a depth which few people would or could ever associate with Winner. Also, thanks to him, I have some prime Oliver Reed lusting material. I salute you Sir and offer my greatest respect and condolences.
I also have a weakness for Parting Shots. I mean, how can you argue with a cast list that includes Diana Rigg, Joanna Lumley, Oliver Reed, Gareth Hunt, Peter Davison and Nicola Bryant? You can’t.
It’s not an original pun, but Central Bazaar by Stephen Dwoskin is really, truly bizarre. We watched it in two parts about a month ago, and even after much discussion and thinking on it, I am still unsure as to quite what I think of it. Many of the online reviews likened it to a Seventies version of Big Brother, where a group of people – locked in the director’s house – are filmed over the course of a couple of weeks. But that is to do it an injustice, and suggests that it may be some kind of cultural snapshot of the period. These people are a disconcerting mix, chosen without a structure in mind (there are no ‘types’ that I can clearly identify) and appear to spend most of the time in a druggy haze, having been instructed to act out private fantasies with their fellow housemates.
The actual soundtrack to the action is stripped away and replaced with a discordant, electronic hum. Which is both uncomfortable and completely soporific (hence the need to watch in two parts, we both drifted off to sleep about halfway through). The shots are lingering, wobbling, moving in and out of focus rather than fast-paced editing.
It really has rather more in common with an improvisation, the performers daubing themselves with make-up and pulling on random garments from [what I assume was] a provided dressing-up box, before enacting ‘scenes’ – usually sexual and psychological. There are threads of potential stories, punctuated with a few moments of relief from the electronic hum where people sing songs or read stories, but since there is no speech and no context, it is difficult to follow. But in itself, this is fascinating. It means the film is as good as your imagination and patience.
In many ways, it is a perfect example of style over substance. It looks incredible. Or at least, it looks incredible if grubby Seventies sex, interiors and dressing-up are your kind of thing. These characters all look the part of interesting, sensual, bohemian people. But whether or not they actually are is completely obscured by the techniques of the director. If you have a yen for something truly unique, but which many have deemed “unwatchable” (a word which usually makes me prick up my ears and click the ‘rent’ button on Lovefilm) then it is certainly worth a watch. Otherwise, these screengrabs capture what is best about the film – the visuals.
I am going to roughly translate that as Phwoar!! Check out the new James Bond’s bevvy of dollybirds*, to use contemporary British terminology.
I realise that Mr Lazenby really isn’t much cop as an actor, but a) he isn’t Sean Connery (who brings me out in hives) and b) On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has the glorious Ms Rigg in it, so no criticism is allowed chez Vintage-a-Peel. A great spread from Ciné Revue featuring all the key Bond girls in OHMSS (special mention for Angela Scoular), but weirdly omitting Joanna Lumley. Ah well, enjoy!
* I do realise this isn’t entirely accurate, but a literal translation seemed so boring…
Ok, so perhaps the term ‘must see’ is not necessarily going to apply to most [sane] people, but if you’ve got an appetite for the naff, kitsch or questionable tastes in life (and as a reader of my blog, I fear this may be the case…) then The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972) should be right up your street.
The film is based on the comic strip from Private Eye, written by Barry Humphries and illustrated by Nicholas Garland, and follows the eponymous Aussie hero as he fulfills his dead father’s wish to expand his cultural horizons in London. Ending up in Earl’s Court (where else?) a series of mishaps and misunderstandings lead Barry to an unspeakable dénouement in a TV studio. I am not even going to attempt to explain that.
Starring Barry Humphries in an early outing as plain old Mrs Edna Everage, Barry Crocker as our hero (Crocker is now married to Miss Peelpants-favourite Katy Manning and is best known to us ‘Pommy Bastards’ as the original singer of the Neighbours theme tune), and with cameos by Spike Milligan and Peter Cook, it is certainly quite an amazing period piece. Demonstrated perfectly with an incredible, possibly unique, shot of Barry and a friend walking down Marlborough Court. Yes, you can see Irvine Sellars ‘Mates’ boutique, Take 6, Aristos and Foale and Tuffin!!! Much excitement abounded….
Further still, one young lady is slinking around her apartment in the most perfect Zandra Rhodes outfit….
And then Peter Cook manages to floor me with a fabulous Betty Grable-printed t-shirt. I have no idea who this is by, so if any menswear geeks ever find out – please do let me know!
My most recent Lovefilm rental was a film I’ve been dying to see for years: Two for the Road starring Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney. I can safely say that it did not disappoint and I remain baffled as to why it wasn’t more successful at the time, or why it hasn’t been re-evaluated as a classic in the years since. I suppose it is mainly a lack of familiarity; when was the last time it was shown on’t'telly?
One reviewer explained the possible contemporary drawback that Audrey Hepburn was a much more established Hollywood star in 1967, and someone like Albert Finney would have seemed a terrible upstart to have equal billing opposite her. It doesn’t help that his character is a dominant, aggressive, opinionated Alpha male, and she is as delicately beautiful and softly spoken as always. That isn’t to say that her character is a washout, far from it, but in analysing a marriage across its entire lifespan, you will certainly see the worst sides of both parties. And the phrase ‘a bit of an arse’ was created precisely for a man like Mark Wallace.
The rhythm of the film is deliciously undulating and swervy, which is dictated by the fact that it is a road movie and that it switches between several different time periods through its entirety. You see how the couple first meet, how they fall in love, how they survive youthful poverty, pregnancy, the changing fortunes of their lives (and how these, perversely, make them unhappier), their dalliances, how they seem to be falling out of love. In fact, it shows every nuance of a complex relationship in snippy vignettes from several holidays, each involving a long journey across France. You never see their home, but you really don’t notice and certainly don’t need to.
It is also notable for Hepburn’s wardrobe, which is provided by a host of swinging young designers (Foale and Tuffin, Mary Quant, Paco Rabanne, Ken Scott etc…) and perfectly places each time period. You know where you are when her hair is long, and her beatnik jumper is red, or when her hair is perfectly coiffed into a Vidal Sassoon cut and her clothes are mod perfection.
You’ll laugh, if you’re anything like me you’ll cry, and you’ll fall ever more in love with Audrey and Albert. There’s even an early Jacqueline Bisset appearance. Definitely a ‘must see’, in my opinion.
After the whole Side by Side fabulousness, M then gave me a copy of Joanna as a Valentine’s present. Yes, he may well be the perfect man; I had already moaned about it not being available back in January!
The first either of us knew about Joanna was when I found the soundtrack LP in a record shop in Norwich. Don’t even get me started on my idiocy in not buying it. I was transfixed by the front cover, the synopsis and the fact that it has Donald Sutherland in it. Why had I not seen this before?
Geneviève Waïte plays the title character (she would later release a cult album called Romance is on the Rise, and marry John Phillips after he split from Michelle) and the film was written and directed by Michael Sarne, occasional actor, pop singer and ex-husband of Ghost founder Tanya.
To say it’s an odd film, is to say the least. But odd in that perfect, no-need-to-make-sense kind of way that so many late Sixties films are. Better than Candy but probably not as downright amazing as, say, The Jokers or Smashing Time.
Waïte’s clothes were specially designed by Sue West and Virginia Hamilton-Kearse and were then sold through the Paraphernalia boutique in New York. There’s definitely something quirky and unique about them, they remind one of Foale and Tuffin, Quorum, Betsey Johnson etc, but have more of a homemade and eccentric feel to them.
I can see why Waïte never really continued with much in the way of acting, since I suspect that the role of Joanna was really not very far from her own personality. She’s cute, eccentric and ditsy, but with a healthy dose of logic and sense.
As with so many films of this style and era, it’s well worth watching for the exterior shots of London. This film throws up a real treat: the girls take a ‘shopping’ trip to Bus Stop where the rails are soon raided and no money is spent. Utterly brilliant.
I don’t think my screengrabs even begin to do it justice, but I hope they give you a good taste of what you might expect from the film. The outfit changes are relentless, her facial expressions ever-changing, and the locations are stunning. I’ve also captured what I’m fairly sure are uncredited cameos by Suki Poitier and Chrissie Shrimpton. Enjoy!
I can’t even begin to imagine the pain she must have been going through.
I thought she was utterly adorable in Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) and thought I’d post a few stills in tribute. It’s well worth watching, if you haven’t already, although now doubly tinged with sadness (if you don’t know the Barry Evans story, click here).
A wonderful Valentine’s Day trip to the NFT to see François Truffaut’s La Peau Douce has really done nothing constructive to abate my current hair dissatisfaction. I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it many times more, I want Françoise Dorléac’s hair. I know she must have had assistance from clever stylists and plenty of extra hair added, it’s a continuity nightmare, but still. I want.
I was also entertained to discover an advert on the inner gatefold for ‘Monsieur Le Stud’, a range of aftershaves etc with a brilliant description of what the pong must have been like….
Legendary are the powers attributed to musk and ginseng from which the fragrances of life and love have been extracted. Now in union, carefully balanced and blended with essences from exotic flowers, mosses and herbs to create a pleasing distinctive masculine fragrance.
We warn you that wearing ‘Monsieur Le Stud’ can be very demanding.
Some things never change, do they? Wanky perfume descriptions and novelty perfumes least of all. Saying that, I am now somewhat desperate to find a bottle to give to M. So if anyone comes across it, and can bear to part with it, please do let me know!
Now I don’t like to cast aspersions upon Monsieur Le Stud but I suspect that it might be a little overpowering, so you might need to open a window. Which brings me to Sweet’s ‘Love is like Oxygen’, as featured on the soundtrack. I need no excuse to post Sweet videos, really, but I thought I would make the effort…