Monday, 30 January 2012

Private Road

'Private Road' isn't really a smut film at all, it's more of an 'issue' film - but as the issue is sex, and it was released in 1971, it just about squeaks into our never ending cavalcade of sauce (if I'm honest, I'm also still recovering from last week's clip of Miss Christabel Jones).

Bruce / Peter.

Susan / Ann & some fantastic speakers.

Bruce ('Withanil & I') Robinson and Susan Penhaligon play Peter and Ann, two fresh faced lovers who, in the freewheeling spirit of the times, move in with each other against the wishes of Ann's ungroovy and slyly manipulative parents. Peter is a promising novelist and, on the strength of a publishing advance, he and Ann take a cottage in the country and have a carefree, idyllic time (these scenes may even have been the starting point for the Penrith scenes in 'Withnail', as they have a very similar feel, just slightly more romantic). 

'We've come on holiday deliberately'

Young Love.

Run, rabbit, run.

On their return, things start to go wrong - Ann gets pregnant and Peter is forced to take a job writing advertising copy for a new dog dessert. One of their hippy dippy friends gets into radical politics, another becomes a heroin addict and (it is implied) steals Peter's typewriter to fund his addiction. As reality closes in, Ann, who is only in her late teens, starts feeling far too grown up and runs back to Mummy and Daddy, who promptly arrange an abortion for her.

You've had the sex, now here's the drugs.

Burglary is the new Rock & Roll.
As the film ends, Ann is living with her parents, who now expect Peter to marry her and move to a house they have bought them in the suburbs. Peter loves Ann, but isn't prepared to fall into respectability just because it is expected of him. On a whim, he and his junkie friend steal an electric typewriter from an office (shades of 'The 400 Blows') and he vows to return to writing - and to get Ann back on his own terms.   

'Stick 'em up'.

'Right, you've got your typewriter, and your breakfast. Anything else you want?'

'Private Road' is very much of its time, very Middle Class, very slight, but it's very good - largely improvised, free flowing, elliptically edited and with some convincing naturalistic performances from the young cast. Bruce Robinson in particular is excellent, half petulant artist, half gormless kid - and in his various improvisations he demonstrates the humour and preference for an unobvious phrase which would later come to fruition in the greatest British film of the 80s (that sounds like faint praise, but I don't mean it that way) - if the arse hadn't fallen out of the homegrown industry just as he was starting up he could have been a much bigger star.

Director Barney Platts-Mills' previous film had been cult favourite 'Bronco Bullfrog', set amongst working class youths in the East End of London, and his subsequent career has been joyfully non-conventional, including writing offbeat screenplays, directing musicals in prison and heading up lots of youth film projects. Last year, he released  his first feature film for thirty years. Interesting fellow - and born in Colchester, Essex which, as any hep person knows, is where all the best people come from.

1 comment:

  1. Love this, but then in my eyes Bruce can do no wrong.