Euphoria #21

The Euphoria shows no sign of subsiding here at Shadowplay. We are always OVER THE MOON here from watching these great clips, even when we go to the bathroom.

Duncan Aitchison, my film quiz running-mate (and uncrowned TEAM LEADER) suggested a bunch of great stuff, including this mighty scene of a young Oliver Reed DANCING from Edmond T. Greville’s seminal sixties juvie melodrama BEAT GIRL, which will also provide our Quote of the Day (a Shadowplay first!).

Fiona says Ollie Reed dances like I do, which I take to refer to his lack of co-ordination, weirdness of movement, and marked tendency to respond to unknown music in his own head rather than to the soundtrack provided for us mortals by John Barry and his Seven.

This is right before Barry started scoring Bond films, and his style has evolved from the rather random imitations of different commercial pop styles, and the annoying pizzicato noodlings of his earlier work. What we have here is just a hair away from the full-on Bondian torch-song brassy blast, and I FIND IT MAGNIFICENT.

Oliver Reed’s dancing makes me feel PROUD TO BE BRITISH. I think his only other connection to the medium of dance is his tiny cameo as a camp ballet dancer in Basil Dearden and Bryan Forbes’ marvellous crime caper THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN. Nobody’s idea of a gay prancer, Ollie stepped into that role at the last minute and made it his own.

“Do you want Moody 1, Moody 2 or Moody 3?” Ollie would ask Michael Winner, and it’s that lowering Heathcliffian menace that he’s been hired for here, not his terpsichorean dexterity. I like how he manages to preserve his essential Rugged Solemnity even while capering like a loon.

BEAT GIRL stars Gillian Hills, a sort of Brit-brat-Bardot, as the daughter of awful architect David Farrar (best known for riding a TINY DONKEY in BLACK NARCISSUS: his feet touch the ground when he straddles it, so he can make it go just by walking above it) who falls in with beatniks and strippers and Adam Faith (who exudes Proletarian Adenoidal Suavity — a STAR).

Nigel and sexiness

Sleaze is trowelled on by a nubile Christopher Lee and the reliably button-eyed psychosis of Nigel Green, both of whom I love more than oxygen. Plus there’s those strippers. Most of the onstage undressing is very mild and half-hearted, certainly less impressive than the same year’s EXPRESSO BONGO, but one number, by “Pascaline”, is a sizzler. Perhaps thinking that the dancer’s dusky complexion would render her gyrations safely asexual, in the way that naked National Geographic “savages” were the only kind of photographic nude permissable for years, the filmmakers let this former Crazy Horse artiste unleash her pelvis like a randy bronco, all over our screen. Alas, the censors fairly fell over themselves to truncate Pascaline’s masturbatory movements, but in these permissive naughty naughties, the film has been restored with all this previously unseen frottage.

But my other favourite favourite thing in this film — no, not a FILM exactly, more a PAGEANT OF ASSORTED MATERIÉLS, is David Farrar’s CITY 2000 — of which more anon.

Footnote: Duncan has chosen this scene because of his nostalgic-patriotic love of a particular British sleaze/romance, as embodied by his favourite line in David Cronenberg’s SPIDER: Gabriel Byrne’s silky come-on: “You wanna go down the allotments?”


12 Responses to “Euphoria #21”

  1. Darryl McCarthy Says:

    I saw Beat Girl for the first time last week and admit to my jaw dropping when Pascaline started her bump’n’grind routine – I was only vaguely aware of the film’s reputation for pushing the boundary of what was permissible on screen. All right, it wasn’t Shortbus, but it was a fair sight hotter than much of what’s produced these days, given the context of its age and the wonderfully seedy setting. The shots of the greasy-haried, besuited, leering audience give the stip club scenes a grimly fascinating edge, contrasting the physical beauty of the women on the stage with the seedy, voyeuristic audience. The rest of the film came across more like a public information broadcast on parenting, but the brutalist designs of the architect’s “home” worked well in expressing the father’s lack of emotional understanding.

  2. Yes!
    More on that architecture in my Quote Of The Day.

  3. i know it’s not in a film but i remember oliver reed doing some great dancing on some british chat show or other. he had a great big mug of orange squash with him – it must have been full of e-numbers because he seemed to be pretty excited

  4. Just a few years after Beat Girl, Gillian Hills could be found romping nude on pink paper with David Hemmings and Jane Birkin in Blow-Up.

    Birkin had the year before met John Barry (who scored her debut film, The Knack) and married him.

    An essential link in my Six Degrees of Jane Birkin World Theory.

  5. Yes, Jane Birkin is the SKINNY PIVOT around which we all rotate.

    Yes, Ollie liked a bit of a cavort when he would drunkenly appear on chat shows. When they allowed him to sing “Wild thing” on The Word that got a bit much — exploiting a man with an alcohol problem. Of course he was quite knowingly exploiting himself too, but still…

    Must blog more on Mr. Reed and his famous uncle soon.

  6. Can we have a Jane Birkin Tribute?

    I especially adore her in Jacques Doillon’s La Pirate where she gets it on with Marushka Detmers all the while feeling guilty about neglecting her husband — played by her brother Andrew.

    She is likewise luminous in Doillon’s two-hander Comedie (just jane with Alian Souchon), Agnes Varda’s Kung-Fu Master (where she falls in love with Mattieu Doillon) and Bertrand Tavernier’s Daddy Nostalgie (where she gets to play Dirk Bogarde’s daughter — making for Sheer Iconographic Heaven. )

  7. We’ll see what we can do. Have probably seen more of JB’s girls than I have of her, but something should be possible…

  8. Correction: Mathieu Demy (not Doillon)

    Jane and Serge are key members of the cast of Abe Polonsky’s magnificent swan song Romance of a Horse Thief.

    The there’s Serge’s Je t’aime, moi no plus where Joe Dallesandro discovers that she isn’t the boy he was expecting to get it on with.

  9. I have seen virtually none of this mouth-watering stuff. although my pal David “Hot Voodoo” Wingrove probably has.

    Looking at la Birkin’s career, I find I have a few rarities: Wonderwall, If Don Juan Were a Woman, Seven Deaths in a Cat’s Eye, Egon Schiele: Excess and Punishment, and Leave All Fair. As well as a couple more obvious ones.

    A fellow could have a pretty mind-bending film festival with that bunch!

  10. And don’t forget La Piscine with Jane and Romy Schneider as les girls idling about while les boys — Alain Delon and Maurice Ronet — have a rematch. Delon, who drowned Ronet once already in Plein Soleil does it again!

  11. “I knew I shouldn’t have trusted you!”

    I like how the guy Joe Pesci beats to death (almost) in GOODFELLAS, gets to beat him to death (almost) in CASINO. Seems inherently FAIR.

  12. Well I’ll be damned. Just watched the clip of Pascaline which I’VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE. Which is to say that the Beat Girl I’ve been watching periodically all this time was abbreviated, but my copy’s a VHS public domain cheapie, so I’m assuming that Kino’s release of this film restored it. And Darryl McCarthy’s right, it is a jaw-dropper. It’s always surprising when you see something that overt from that long ago, like the two young Japanese who cavort in Kaneto Shindo’s Onibaba (1964).

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