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1st December 2009 11:49:00
Posted by Dave Foster

BFI Flipside in January

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BFI have announced the UK DVD and Blu-ray Disc release of three new BFI Flipside titles on 25th January 2010. The recently launched strand that features previously 'lost' British films continues in the New Year with Privilege*, That Kind of Girl and Permissive.

Each title is newly-mastered to High Definition from original film elements and presented with previously unavailable short films, documentaries and interviews, some of which are preserved in the BFI National Archive. All volumes come in collectable numbered packaging, accompanied by extensive illustrated booklets with enlightening contributions from special guest writers.

Privilege (Peter Watkins, 1967)
Steve Shorter, the biggest pop star of his day, is loved by millions; his approval or endorsement can guide the choices and actions of the masses. But, in reality, he is a puppet whose popularity is carefully managed by government-backed handlers keen to keep the country’s youth under control. Only an act of complete rebellion can set him free.

Starring Manfred Mann’s lead singer Paul Jones as Shorter, and iconic Sixties supermodel Jean Shrimpton as the girl who tries to help him defy the system, Privilege is the third feature from provocative British director Peter Watkins (The War Game, Culloden), a filmmaker whose unique vérité-style and oppositional themes have continually met with controversy throughout his career.

Now being made available in the UK for the first time since its original cinema release, Privilege is presented here with two of Watkins' earliest film works.

Special features
  • Original Privilege trailer
  • The Diary of an Unknown Soldier (Peter Watkins, 1969, 17 mins): a young solider in the trenches of the First World War, preparing for combat, shares his innermost feelings in this compelling short
  • The Forgotten Faces (Peter Watkins, 1961, 19 mins): a gripping newsreel-style account of the peoples’ uprising in Hungary, 1956, given forceful authenticity by Watkins’ unique approach
  • Extensive illustrated booklet with new essays by film historian Robert Murphy and Watkins specialist John Cook

*Due to an issue with materials, Privilege will only be released on DVD in January, with a Blu-ray edition to follow later in the year

That Kind of Girl (Gerry O’Hara, 1963)
In 1960s London, a beautiful continental au pair finds herself wrestling with the affections of an earnest peace-protestor, a dashing young toff and a roguish older man. But fun and freedom turn to shame and despair when she finds that her naivety has put the health of her lovers, and their partners – including the well-meaning Janet (played by Big Zapper's Linda Marlowe, in her first role) – at risk.

Stylishly shot in crisp black and white, and set against a backdrop of smoky jazz clubs, ‘Ban the Bomb’ marches, and evocative London locations, this finely-tuned cautionary tale was the directorial debut of Gerry O’Hara (All the Right Noises, The Brute).

Special features:
  • The People at No. 19 (J.B. Holmes, 1948, 17 mins): an intense and effective melodrama which explores the themes of adultery, sexual hygiene and pregnancy from the perspective of an earlier era
  • No Place to Hide (1959, 10 mins): a snapshot of the ‘Ban the Bomb’ march to Aldermaston
  • A Sunday in September (1961, 27 mins): a compelling documentary, from the director of Black Beauty, about a nuclear disarmament demonstration in London, with Vanessa Redgrave, Doris Lessing and John Osbourne
  • Robert Hartford-Davis interview (1968, 14 mins): That Kind of Girl's producer discusses his film career and production methods
  • Extensive illustrated booklet featuring essays from novelist Cathi Unsworth and director Gerry O’Hara

Permissive (Lindsay Shonteff, 1970)
When Suzy arrives in London to visit an old school friend, she is unwittingly plunged into the ruthless world of the 'groupie'. Fuelled by sex, drugs and jealousy, her new lifestyle fosters in her a cold, cynical instinct for survival. But tragedy is never far away.

With its effective blend of gritty location work, brooding flash-forward devices, and a soundtrack by cult acid folk and prog rock legends Comus, Forever More – who also star – and Titus Groan, Permissive is a dark British counter-cultural artefact that's shot through with grim authenticity.

As a bonus, this release includes Stanley Long's ultra-rare Bread, a film that explores the same cultural milieu as Permissive (and features its own bona fide cult British rock band, Juicy Lucy), although it takes a somewhat more light-hearted approach to its subject.

Special features:
  • Original Permissive trailer
  • Bread (Stanley Long, 1971, 68 mins): whilst hitch-hiking back from the Isle of Wight Festival, a group of friends decide to stage their own music event. But how will they afford it?
  • Bread – mute deleted scenes
  • ’Ave You Got a Male Assistant Please Miss? (1973, 4 mins) an unreservedly ’70s take on the safe sex message
  • Extensive illustrated booklet with contributions by I Q Hunter and rock singer Lee Dorrian, and Comus band-members’ recollections of working with Lindsay Shonteff

The DVDs are £17.99 RRP each and the Blu-rays are £22.99 RRP each. The Blu-rays are all region. The next Flipside titles will be released in May 2010.

Kim Newman’s Guide to the Flipside of British Cinema – a DVD sampler, released 25 January exclusively in HMV RRP £1.99.

If you’re a fan of classic and cult British films – from Alfie to Performance, from The Devils to Withnail and I – then this indispensable guide to a previously uncharted, alternative history of British cinema is for you...

In an all-new documentary, produced exclusively for the BFI, the UK's most knowledgeable and well-respected cult film critic, Kim Newman, explores such questions as how the director of Help! and Superman came to make one of the world's greatest, but little-known, black comedies, and lifts the lid on which previously unseen British film features Helen Mirren in her debut role.

Along with a selection of original trailers and short films – including one that is exclusive to this release* – this is your passport to the exciting and surprising world of The Flipside. All titles can now be seen on DVD and Blu-ray for the first time ever, in the BFI Flipside collection. The sampler includes:
  • Carousella (1966, 25 mins): originally banned by the BBFC, this controversial dramatised documentary on the lives of a group of striptease artistes was directed by celebrated Hollywood filmmaker John Irvin (Hamburger Hill, Raw Deal)
  • The Spy's Wife (1972, 27 mins): directed by Gerry O'Hara (All the Right Noises, The Bitch), this little-seen short film stars the inimitable Tom Bell (The L-Shaped Room, Prime Suspect) and Ann Lynn (Screamtime, Separation) in a modish tale of intrigue and extra-marital relations
  • Tomorrow Night in London*: a vibrant and fast-paced tourist board short made in the 1960s extolling the virtues, and fashions, of London's swinging scene
  • Flipside trailer reel
  • Illustrated booklet with essays and film credits





About Dave Foster
Dave has been loitering the virtual halls of TDF for a decade now and the majority of that time has been spent as Editor of the Home Cinema section (formerly DVDTimes). He doesn't contribute reviews anywhere near as much as he once did (or indeed would like to) but when he does it will invariably be something in the anime or Asian film area.