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This film is notable for two early appearances: John Barry's
(James Bond) first film score and an early role for Oliver Reed as a
teenage reveller. In some ways reminiscent of a pubescent La
Dolce Vita, the film succeeds for one reason alone - Gillian Hills
makes a truly seductive and formidable she-devil in the form of
Yes, the film is dripping in kitsch value, but one can't help but be absorbed the atmosphere, from the milk bar to the cave party, where English Elvis wannabe Adam Faith curls his lip to the drumming of an upturned guitar. Although before my time, I'm sure life in 1960 was never quite this with it, daddy-o.
It's not the greatest film ever made, but the wonderfully sleazy theme by Barry sets the tone nicely, and it rates as one of the best teenage exploitation movies to come out of the UK.
This could easily beat out any of the weak JD b-flicks being produced
in the States at the time. While most of our juvenile delinquent
schlock was lame, polished, and not a very accurate portrait of the
youth, "Beat Girl" is sleazy, grimy, and all together tough as nails.
In other words, just the way I like my exploitation films. First off,
I'm shocked at why Gillian Hills didn't become a massive b-movie (if
not mainstream) star. She is charismatic and above all one of the
sexiest people to ever be caught on camera, its a shame she went on to
small roles (her only other really noteworthy part was in "A Clockwork
Orange"). Just watching this immediately adds her to my list of
greatest cult starlets. It also accurately captures the youth scene at
the time and avoids exploiting them.
The greatest thing about this film however are the locations. Featuring a glimpse into vintage Beat clubs and strip joints in the UK, I was fascinated by such an alien culture. Plus, the theme song is memorable and just flat out rocks. Not to mention Christopher Lee is in it! How cool can this movie get? Sure its not a great piece of art, but as far as cult cinema is concerned, it deserves more recognition and should be placed in the echelon of "Plan 9 From Outer Space" or "Detour". On the bad note, the commercial DVD from Mondo Crash is a piece of crap. The image is horrible and there are scenes cut. You'd be much better off grabbing this oldie from Kino Video. (7/10)
First and foremost, who is Gillian Hills? And second, why didn't she become a major star? After looking for this film for some time, I finally got a chance to check it out the other night. As JD films go, it wasn't a classic, yet it wasn't a clunker either. However, what compelled me to write a review of the film was the sexy young star of the film, Gillian Hills. Going by her bio, she was born in 1946, making her all of fourteen when she made Beat Girl. Well, this has got to be the sexiest fourteen year old ever! Brooke Shields, Jodie Foster, Sue Lyons, even Tuesday Weld can't hold a candle to Ms. Hills. Her performance is the glue which holds the bare thread plot together. Gillian plays Jennifer Linden, spoiled, rich teenager who, along with her beatnik friends, rebel against British society and it's rigid rules and traditions. If one thinks that Jennifer is being led astray by her friends, think again. If anything, it's Jennifer who is leading her friends down the dark and tawdry path. Jennifer is no one's puppet, and proves this in a game of "Chicken" on a railroad track. When her father brings home a much younger Parisian wife Nicole (Noelle Adams), Jennifer makes the woman's life a living hell. She tries to turn her father against Nicole when she finds out that the woman once danced as a stripper in Paris. Jennifer's scheme quickly turns against her and soon she finds herself being manipulated and lusted after by the sleazy strip club owner (played by the always villainous Christopher Lee). The ending to the film was a disappointment, wrapped up rather conveniently despite the fact a murder is committed. Still, Gillian Hills is a vamp on par with some of the best the screen has ever offered. I would assume that maybe it's her resemblance to Brigitte Bardot that may have stymied her career. I would love to see a film of her as an adult, and see if she still possessed that smoldering sexuality she displayed as a teen.
Beat Girl goes where few American JD's films dare to go. It comments on the nature of revolt, the need for revolt and the reasons for revolt. In one scene, when "the gang" are hanging out in a cave-like nightclub, the kids begin to talk about their experiences during the Blitz, their disgust with their middle-class conservative parents and their boredom with everyday life. These are not the typical American "young thrill seekers" of the 50's and 60's, moralistically raised by immoral parents. These are the burnt out products of modern society, angry at a world that offers them nothing of any meaning. More shocking is the reaction the the Beat Girl's father to his new wife's past life-he is horrified, and mad at having been deceived into thinking he was marrying a "nice French girl". He has no sympathy or imagination-if she was a stripper, she must have been a tramp. His incapacity to love her unconditionally compares to the emotionless "love" he expresses for his daughter. On the whole, this is social commentary of the first degree.
What we've all been waiting for... Yes! It's another Christopher Lee
strip-club!Hooray!Hurrah! But there's much more here. We have a
(actually) 14 year-old Gillian Hills (later in Blow Up, when she'd
reached the ripe age of 21), Jon Barry (and his Seven) doing the music
and dreaming of James Bond, Adam Faith playing a beatnik-type-coffee
bar-teenage-dreamboat... Everyone goes around saying "Daddio" and "Go,
man, go" and "I'm real gone, man" and "Get out, you drivelling, jiving,
beatnik scum" (honestly!), and not much happens... ..so they all go and
play by having a drag race and then lying on a railway line and playing
Someone called Laya Raki does an unbelievable striptease that will make your eyes water, (hers obviously did)...
Oliver Reed Starts Dancing!!...
Sorry, I need to go and lie down for a bit...
Once upon a time, Channel 9 in New York featured the Million
DollarMovie, which ran one movie all day long for a full day, a
programming technique that has been copied by modern cable and
satellite TV's in their endless repeats of movies and shows.
But in the early 70's, before the invention of the VCR, Channel 9 was a film student's dream in that he or she could watch a movie over and over for one day and really study it.
Beat Girl arrived on Channel 9, a few years after its run in British and, presumably, American theaters. I watched about eight hours of Beat Girl, in the generous, endless loop provided by Channel 9. This movie fascinated the 13-yr.-old me who had never encountered such rebellion and hostility on the part of a school-aged daughter towards her father, who has returned from a trip with a step mother for whom the daughter is unprepared.
At 13, rebellious, unhappy, and edgy, I needed a "bad-girl" paradigm, and this movie supplied me with her. I loved the heroine and despised anyone who would stand in her way. She left such an impression on me that I have been fascinated by "bad girls" ever since.
However, the film is so bad -- or good, depending on your point of view of gritty, early 60s "To Sir, With Love" England -- that you might want to stick around to see what happens to this sullen chick who's accompanied by some stoner boys to some bad jazz music. Or not: this is one low budget film with fairly terrible acting but there is a gritty earnestness to this film.
Look for Oliver Reed, John McHenery, and Adam Faith in secondary roles. As in all of 50/60 flicks. look for a moral -- but look for the moments of rebellion, too. And dig that crazy music.
Architect Paul Linden has been travelling away in Europe for over three
months and returns with new, much younger French wife Nicole in tow.
Nicole's first challenge is Paul's sixteen year old daughter Jennifer,
who is going through a typically teenage difficult period of being
rebellious as she discovers her new sexuality and has places where her
and her friends can hang out away from adults and squares. When Nicole
starts trying to get to know her better, Jennifer reacts by digging for
dirt on her stepmother.
This film got a rare screening on BBC4 recently so I watched it out of retro-curiosity. For my money Beat Girl turned out to be a surprising good film, partly because I was watching it on its own terms. What I mean by this is that I quickly accepted that this was not going to be a sharp examination of teenage alienation but rather a bit of an exploitative b-movie of rebellion, beatniks, stripping and jive music. In this area it works really well and is actually one of the better "troubled youth" b-movies that I've seen. Sadly this is not because it gets the adult characters right because where it matters, it doesn't. The parents are clunky authority figures and Nicole is little more than a plot device.
No, where Beat Girl works is in creating an enjoyable sense of grimy rebellion and sass that is what these films is supposed to be all about. The locations and music are a large part of this because it does give the film an authentic feel to be in seedy strip-clubs and laidback coffee houses, while the music is roundly cool and of the period. One of the main things that the film is worth seeing for is a wonderful turn from Gillian Hills in her debut film role. She is sexy with genuine fire behind her eyes and a great attitude I'm not really into bad girls but I fell in love right here! Only marginally sexier is dancer Pascaline who does a strip so hot that I had to check two things: the first being that this was made in 1960, the second being my watch, to confirm that, yes, BBC4 were screening it before the watershed! Anyway, back on Hills, she is great and drives the film with her harsh and convincing teenage girl. Alongside her Adam and Farrar are a bit clunky while her various peers seem quite clichéd and dated in a way that Hills' fire prevents. Lee has a real sleazy menace and there are appearances from Reed and Faith to increase the "oh look its" count. Overall Beat Girl is a dated and slightly trashy rebellious teen b-movie. In terms of message and plot it is not great but it is worth a look due to the cool points that the locations, direction, music and very hot Hills give it.
I was a bit disappointed by this film. Some may see the
star as bravely standing up against the cruel older generation,
but personally I just found her annoying.
One previous review talks about how her father was completely unable to accept his wife having been a stripper. His initial inability to accept this is only a brief passing stage, and he does accept his wife. After this scene they both work
together to find his daughter, who is allowing herself to be seduced by a sleazy strip-joint owner (Christopher Lee acting extremely well).
My main disappointment with this film is that it isn't as laughable as the cover suggests. There is a small amount of risible dialog, but not enough.
Fun movie proves that even British film makers could do a trashy juvenile
delinquent film - with added bonus of cool, jazzy, rock'n'roll sound
Sixteen-year old beatnik art student rebels when her "square" middle-aged dad brings home a "French poodle" 24-year-old stepmom. She and her beatnik pals discover that her blonde bombshell step-mommy was once a Parisian stipper!
A few hysterical scenes later the girl realizes the error of her ways and returns to her architect dad and step-mother.
A must-see for any camp, bad movie film buffs!
I gave this a 10 because I only give two ratings, 10 or zero, pass or no pass. Let's talk about Brit Rock. I was 15 and growing up in the US when this movie came out and there was no such term as Brit Rock. When the Beatles, Stones, and the others came out I completely disregarded them. Who needs these guys doing Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley when we have the real thing. Eventually I came to appreciate what they were doing and soon developed a deep admiration for the British rock movement going back to the 50's. This movie, though fraught with awkwardness, has some very telling points. A very important point is made when the kids were discussing the war scars. We Americans knew nothing of that. To us rock was just a big jolly product. But these kids had a way more emotional need for it and they took it more seriously and they wound up exporting our own music right back to us and basically saved Rock and Roll. Now the bad part of this film is the pre posterous and thoroughly embarrassing "hip talk" although all the American rock films of the time did pretty well the same thing. And the plot is pretty tiresome but it still shows that basic need for rock, the big thing about rock has always been that need. It's like in the Lou Reed song, "her life was saved by rock and roll". Goofy as this movie is, it does convey that message.
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