Thursday, 18 August 2016

Smashing Time (1967)

'We're going to have a Smashing Time' declare Yvonne (Lynn Redgrave) and Brenda (Rita Tushingham), two young women from the North, who have come to London to became rich and famous. However London  is not all that it seems and the girls have to battle terrible housing, amorous older men, the music industry, strange fashions and even stranger people!

Smashing Time was a spoof of Swinging London, the music, models, fashion, colour and psychedelia. Yvonne eventually becomes a singer (despite the fact she can't sing) and her only song becomes a huge hit, whilst Brenda becomes a model (and showcases some moves reminiscent of Julie Christie in Darling). Before this Brenda gets a job in a boutique, 'Too Much', where she makes the mistake of actually selling the items. The owner of the shop doesn't want anything to be sold, she just wants her shop to be a place for the 'cool kids' to hang out. One of the cleverer sequences involves a spoof of 'Candid Camera', entitled 'You Can't Help Laughing'. People genuinely have terrible things happen to them, but as they receive a prize all is forgiven, despite lingering questions from the audience. When Yvonne walks down Carnaby St everyone is having their photo taken, as she does, but with less than great results. The Beatles, Twiggy and David Bailey are all spoofed in the film as is the 60s penchant for wearing wigs, second hand clothes shopping and experimental art exhibitions.

The film has some rather chaotic sequences, including two very drawn out food fights that don't really seem to serve a purpose. At one stage Brenda attends an art exhibition showcasing crazy robots made by a mad scientist. This scientist was played by Bruce Lacey, who really was something of a mad scientist, but is best known as George's flute playing gardener in The Beatles film Help! The film also features cameos from Tushingham's A Taste of Honey co-stars, Murray Melvin and Paul Danquah. It did poorly at the box office, some claiming because the 'fad' of Swinging London was coming to an end, but today it remains a time capsule of the colour and craziness of the time.

Sometimes the film feels as if it is trying too hard to be funny, other times the funniness comes at unexpected moments. The ending happens too quickly, the girls discover that everyone is shallow, they rekindle their friendship and decided to return home (all in the space of 5mins). Still despite its flaws it is a fun film and makes you want to time travel back to the 60s!


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