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Beat Girl (Renown 1960 | Gillian Hills, Adam Faith)


Christopher Lee and Adam Faith star in a censor-baiting slice of 50s teen exploitica. A poor little rich girl falls in with a bad Beat crowd, to the bewilderment of her square old man

Beat Girl (Wild For Kicks) is a low budget period piece that was, at the time of its release, cut to ribbons by the censors. Featuring a brace of pre-fame faces, it follows spoilt rich girl Jennifer (Hills) and her Beatnik pals as she cruises the jazz clubs and strip joints of 50s London, all the while trying to dig up some dirt on her sexy Parisian step-mother (Adam).

In many respects it’s appalling. Certain actors emphasise random words, single scenes appear to take place at both day and night and the plot hinges on a revelation that’s barely worth mentioning. But there’s also a great deal that’s genuinely fascinating. The juvenile delinquents (actually posho art school types with vowels like cut glass) talk at length about post-war alienation, while Jennifer’s architect father (Farrer) is designing a walled metropolis called City 2000 in which the inhabitants need never meet. Lee’s nightclub owner is sleaze on a stick, and the whole thing’s loaded with hipster argot. (“Straight from the fridge, dads!” “He sends me over and out!” “Melt, melt, melt!”).

John Barry’s big-band-meets-surf-rock score (including a theme tune later covered by The Damned) rumbles away in the background, Oliver Reed executes some extraordinary dance moves and a striptease scene featuring Delphi Lawrence is provocative even by today’s standards. It takes a murder to persuade Jennifer to return to the bosom of her family but the moral, if there is one, is highly ambiguous. The English B-movie at its most deliciously salacious then, but not for squares, daddio. You dig?

TRIVIA
At the start of his career French director Gréville was responsible for some noted experimental shorts and also pursued a career as a novelist and playwright.

CLASSIC QUOTE
Next week – boom! – the world goes up in smoke. And what’s the score? Zero! – Jennifer (Gillian Hills)

cast
Gillian Hills as Jennifer Linden
Noëlle Adam as Nichole Linden
David Farrar as Paul Linden
Adam Faith as Dave
Delphi Lawrence as Greta the stripper (uncredited!)
Shirley Anne Field as Dodo (as Shirley-Anne Field)
Peter McEnery as Tony
Christopher Lee as Kenny King
Nigel Green as Simon
Oliver Reed as Plaid Shirt
Claire Gordon as Honey

crew
Director: Edmond T. Gréville
Producer: George Willoughby
Writer: Dail Ambler
Photographer: Walter Lassally
Composer: John Barry, Trevor Peacock

UK | Renown | 83 minutes | 1960

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