For many years now scions of the rich have vicariously lived a glib and cushioned version of street life cheek by jowl with those who walk the walk as well as talking the talk.In those far - off days of the early 1960s Notting Hill - unrecognisable to dear,dear Hugh and Julia - was a far more gloomy and grimy district,prime bedsit territory with landlords like the much - feared and detested Peter Rachman terrorising their unfortunate tenants.This is the world explored by Mr M.Winner's cruelly neglected "West 11". It is usually forgotten by all except its proponents when British neo - realist cinema of the era is discussed.This is an injustice,for,in my opinion,it deserves to be considered in the same breath as the better - known works of Richardson,Sleschinger,Anderson et al. Although entitled to claim membership of the Oxbridge Mafia,Mr Winner has ploughed a lonely furrow,a true maverick of the British cinema. In "West 11" we have an early expiation of his favourite theme of urban alienation and the loss of purpose and sense of individualism in city life.Mr A.Lynch plays a basically decent young man drifting from job to job aimlessly.Desperately short of money he accepts a commission from conman Mr E.Portman to murder his wealthy aunt.He finds himself unable to carry out his task,but the old lady is killed falling down the stairs and he runs off leaving behind his portable chess set which fatally links him to her death.That,shorn of frippery,is the basis of the movie. But the meat is in the detail.Mr F.Currie gives his best performance since "Great Expectations" as Mr Lynch's lonely elderly neighbour, the oft - abused Miss D.Dors is excellent as a proud estranged parent who is hanging out with young people in a sad effort to hold off middle age. Cruelly referred to in the sixties as "forgotten but not gone",she belied that phrase many times in the later stages if her career and is now remembered as an actress of considerable talent. Marvellously photographed by Mr O.Heller,the movie depicts a Notting Hill far less neighbourly than that of its contemporary "The L - shaped room".Here,spite,petty jealousies and malice are abroad. With this and the also woefully neglected "I'll never forget whats 'is name" Mr Winner presents us with an accurate and sharply drawn picture of life in the capital as Britain recovered from its post - war depression.Unfortunately his subsequent reputation as a maker of exploitative and bizarre movies has distracted us from his obvious love and concern for humanity and his passion for making films.
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