Primitive London Taxi Driver

Thanks to film academic and author Benjamin Halligan for sending me the British “Mondo” movie PRIMITIVE LONDON. Made in 1965, what’s jaw-dropping about this film, “directed” by Arnold L. Miller (SEX FARM) and produced by Michael Klinger and Tony Tenser, is how decidedly un-shocking it is. From childbirth to chicken-packing, the grab-bag of sinsational subjects is lame, tame and bewilderingly scatter-shot. SEE — the mods! SEE — the kendo school! SEE — The hatter’s head-measuring instrument!

Shocking.

But some of the desperate measures deployed to liven it up / tie it together are pretty interesting. Here’s the best example of postmodern deconstruction you’re likely to find in a British film of the era:

And what about that music? Esteemed Jazz-man Basil (DR PHIBES) Kirchin and John A. Coleman (apparently still working today, on KUNG FU PANDA no less, if the IMDb hasn’t gene-spliced him with a namesake) seem to have hit upon the main theme of TAXI DRIVER eleven years early. Here’s another, clearer instance:

Can’t you just feel all hope and life ebbing from your body as that sequence goes on? It’s the PRIMITIVE LONDON effect. All British “sex” films were really part of a secret government plan to combat overpopulation by mentally sterilising the populace with desultory erotica. The pornography of despair. And it worked. Anyone who saw THE AMOROUS MILKMAN would be unable to have a sexual thought for months without wanting to run out for a free N.H.S. penectomy. 

Operation Prole-Wipe was so successful that by the 1980s, British cinema was producing non-sex films actively designed to promote a desire for early, childless death. How else to explain REVOLUTION?

Meanwhile, here’s the moral of the story from PRIMITIVE LONDON:

It’s easy to see what happened. Bernard Herrmann was living in England at the time he was approached to do TAXI DRIVER, and must have encountered the P.L. theme during an elicit trip to a Soho sex cinema, or possibly the Eros in Leicester Square (immortalised in AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON). As the great composer of CITIZEN KANE and PSYCHO, hidden in the darkest recesses of the smoky auditorium, reached a shivering climax at his own hands, the music oozing from the cinema speakers crept into the similarly shady recesses of his mind, forming an unconscious association, just as it does to Alex in CLOCKWORK ORANGE. When Herrmann was asked, eleven years later, to score a film about a character who frequents porno houses, it all clicked into place.

Dirty Bernard!

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8 Responses to “Primitive London Taxi Driver”

  1. They should have called it When Diana Dors Ruled the Earth

  2. Or One Million Leers B.C.

  3. I genuinely think you’re probably spot on with that theory. Speaking of which I’m convinced Stanley Kubrick must have come upon this episode of “At Last the 1948 show” (Zoom to 3 minutes in if you have the time)
    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=RAz4ZErness

  4. Uncanny!
    We know Malcolm McDowall inspired the single false eyelash look when he was removing a makeup test, maybe he inspired the costume when stripping off one outfit and Kubes saw him in his combinations and bowler?

    There’s also a Spike Milligan special from this era which ends with atomic explosion stock footage and a song…

  5. Hi dcairns !

    what is the title of the movie you take the surgical operation screenshots?
    i looking a lot but i can’t found ! =(
    thank you in advanced !

    Memo from italy

  6. I think it’s from Primitive London, like all the other images.

  7. Nup, i have primitive london and i did not found that scene

  8. Can’t help you, then. It’s been too long since I wrote this.

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