A PLACE TO GO - Kitchen sink movies must have come to a screaming halt with this Dearden movie from 1963 which was lost for decades and one can see why now that it is available again. It plays like a parody of kitchen sink dramas as we focus on Bethnal Green and working class families being moved to those enticing new high rise blocks. It is a rather patronising look at working class life with pub singalongs, dog tracks and the like. There is of course a dissatisfied young man - the 5-minute pop star Mike Sarne, surely the most uncharismatic leading man ever, his spikey waif girlfriend - who else but Rita Tushingham? and his salt of the earth working class parents - send for reliables Doris Hare and Bernard Lee. There is of course a raid on the local cigarette factory that goes wrong, and at the end those slum houses are being demolished at they move to the tower blocks.
And of course in 1964's GIRL WITH GREEN EYES, Irish Rita Tushingham (left) takes the ferry to London and works at the WH Smith shop just oppostite the Notting Hill Classic Cinema, one of my old haunts - and I took the ferry that same year, arriving on 11th April 1964!
while in 1966, another Irish girl Sarah Miles mopes in her London bedsitter (with its topical view of the new Post Office Tower, right) in I WAS HAPPY HERE (also written by Edna O'Brien and directed by Desmond Davis) while pining for her lost love back in County Clare in Ireland, where she runs to follwed by her husband. It too shows a very mid-60s London, before the hip people took over.
London got more colorful and entertaining as the '60s progressed: NOTHING BUT THE BEST with Alan Bates on the make, Rita again in Lester's THE KNACK with Michael Crawford, Michael Winner's romps THE JOKERS and I'LL NEVER FORGET WHATSHISNAME (Oliver Reed, Carol White, Marianne Faithfull etc). THE '60s movie of course was BLOW-UP as Antonioni re-imagined the city and the parks [Maryon Park in Woolwich] and the studios [in Notting Hill Gate], just as Polanski gave us a different view of Kensington in REPULSION, and Polish director Skolimowski showed us another East End in DEEP END, while Darling Julie Christie and her gay pal photographer Roland Curram (stealing a march on Hemmings in BLOW-UP the next year) go shoplifting at Harrods, or maybe Fortnum & Masons, in DARLING in 1965 - its Harrods where Anne Bancroft has that breakdown in THE PUMPKIN EATER in 1964, while Lynn, Alan and Charlotte have fun in GEORGY GIRL in 1966, when David Warner's MORGAN was dressing as that gorilla .... as BLOW-UP and MODESTY BLAISE showed that glamorous 60s London, away from the grubby black and white bedsits ...
SMASHING TIME was a marvellous slapstick romp in 1967, another essential Swinging Lodon comedy, as Northern girls Rita Tushingham (it was certainly her decade) and Lynn Redgrave arrive at the old St Pancras Station, to find out where it's at. Soon they discover Anna Quayle's "Too Much" boutique, and that custard pie shop and of course the Post Office Tower.
OTLEY in 1968, one of those Swinging 60s spy spoofs has a hapless Tom Courtenay mistaken for a spy. Romy Schneider pops in and out as a mysterious lady – it was fun seeing it again recently and those 60s locations like Notting Hill and Portobello that I knew well at the time. There is also a good Antonioni joke at an intellectual party. Amusing support from the likes of Alan Badel, Leonard Rossiter and James Villiers. Above: a tense comedy shoot-out at Notting Hill Gate underground station.
Badel was also that very suave Arab villain in Donen's ARABESQUE a feast of mid-60s London locations as Greg Peck and Sophia Loren try to crack a code in time. Its a dazzling entertainment just as good as Donen's CHARADE.
Late '60s London features in Roeg & Cammell's PERFORMANCE in Notting Hill and Mike Sarne crops up again with JOANNA, [he also went on to direct Fox's MYRA BRECKINRDIGE, amusing for some...]. UP THE JUNCTION in '68 is fascinating now to see the open spaces around Victoria Station and Chelsea Bridge - which is all high-rise apartments now.
We began with POOL OF LONDON, lets end with 1947's Ealing drama IT ALWAYS RAINS ON SUNDAY, now revived by the BFI, with its glum view of Eastenders in Bethal Green on a wet Sunday in those drab late-'40s ... 1950's DANCE HALL is another fascinating social document now with its 4 factory girls (including a young Petula Clark and Diana Dors) living for their Saturday night dance, its full of faces of the time including Kay Kendall, Gladys Henson, Natasha Parry and Jane Hylton and of course Sydney Tafler et al ...
A recent discover too is Michael Winner's WEST 11 from '63 set, like Bryan Forbes' '62 THE L-SHAPED ROOM among the bedsitter people of Notting Hill Gate in the early '60s - an amusing curiosity now, with Diana Dors, Alfred Lynch and the young David Hemmings - as a young hood trying to terrorise dear old Finlay Currie! See also London label for later entries like BITTER HARVEST, and THE WORLD TEN TIMES OVER ... showing the seedy side of Soho in those black and white early 60s ... and full reports on IT ALWAYS RAINS ON SUNDAY and WEST 11, L-SHAPED ROOM, DEEP END, and the revived WOMAN IN A DRESSING GOWN, Preminger's BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING, Cronenberg's EASTERN PROMISES, John Ford's 1958 GIDEON OF SCOTLAND YARD another great 'London in the 50s' movie, etc.
A terrific book too is MOVIE LONDON, exploring the city film by film, showing the locatations used for those seminal London films like BLOW-UP, UP THE JUNCTION, I'LL NEVER FORGET WHATS'IS NAME etc.