Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Perfectly '60s (5): Mulberry Bush & Smashing Time

A final look at those swinging '60s for now - another look at Clive Donner's 1968 HERE WE GO ROUND THE MULBERRY BUSH, and Desmond Davis' 1967 SMASHING TIME, re-uniting Rita Tushingham and Lynn Redgrave as Brenda and Yvonne, two gormless girls down from the North of England to swinging London - Kings Cross and Camden to be precise. London doesn't quite swing for them just yet though, but Yvonne soon becomes a pop star spending all her money on being famous. It is all very colourful with some slapstick and nice humour and nicely cast too with Michael York (a photographer, of course), Irene Handl, Anna Quayle (and her "Too Much" boutique) where Rita's pals like Murray Melvin from A TASTE OF HONEY hang out. More on this at previous label.

I was 21 when HERE WE GO ROUND THE MULBERRY BUSH happened and its great fun seeing it again now. The girls include Judy Geeson (who does not pass her exams because she is sleeping around), Angela Scoular as the posh one, Adrienne Posta hilarious as the chip shop girl, Vanessa Howard and others. There are also the young Christopher Timothy, Nicky Henson and all those fashions. Denholm Elliot and Maxine Audley preside over a swinging weekend, while Michael Bates and Moyra Fraser are our hero's parents at their modest home in that swinging hot spot: Stevenage New Town - one of those '60s new towns. Clive Donner keeps it swinging after his successes with NOTHING BUT THE BEST and the madcap favourite WHAT'S NEW PUSSYCAT?

Barry Evans is our hero, and he is charming here [one of mainstream cinema's first male nudes too] - but his is one of show business's unluckier stories - he went on to a bit part in Donner's ALFRED THE GREAT and then television beckoned with sitcoms like DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE and MIND YOUR LANGUAGE - and then ADVENTURES OF A TAXI DRIVER one of those tatty early '70s soft core rubbish movies that the British film industry was reduced to. Barry became a taxi driver in real life and died in mysterious circumstances aged 53 in 1997.

There is now though a new BFI dvd, so one can relive those colourful 60s fashions and those songs by Stevie Winwood and Traffic all over again. Being 21 when this was released it was like it spoke to my best friend Stan and I - we were like the young people up there on the screen...

Now though we "read" the British '60s through the films of Schlesinger and Losey, Richardson and Reisz, the colourful capers of Clive Donner or Michael Winner, Richard Lester's zaniness, Desmond Davis's romantic dramas, the different views of visitors like Antonioni, Polanski, Skolimowski and films as diverse as THE KNACK, DARLING, POOR COW, UP THE JUNCTION, DEEP END, THE JOKERS, THE SYSTEM, I'LL NEVER FORGET WHATSISNAME, WEST 11, THE WORLD TEN TIMES OVER - but everyday movie fare back then included the CARRY ONs, the Hammer horrors, all that various exploitation fare which all peaked in the 70s - as lovingly recalled in the book "Shepperton Babylon" by Matthew Sweet.

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