Two young women from England's northern counties; the plain Brenda and the flamboyant Yvonne, arrive in London to find fame and fortune. Misdirected and separated, they strike out on their own with Yvonne becoming a model and Brenda a waitress. After Brenda sabotages Yvonne's date whom takes advantage of her, they lose their jobs and soon the roles are reversed with Brenda succeeding as a model and Yvonne becoming a waitress. With both of them competing with the other, they soon learn that they have to team up to take on their adversaries in order to succeed. Written by
strong swinging London pic with a hefty dose of anarchy
Swinging London produced more good music than film, if you ask me, but this anarchistic comedy falls among the better productions of the era. Writer George Melly (who apparently also appeared in Makaveyev's Sweet Movie) presents a wild series of episodes structured around a marginal narrative. Gum snapping Lynn Redgrave and big-eyed Rita Tushingham relocate from their small rural town to happening London and instantly their life savings get stolen. When they're unable to pay for their slap-up breakfast, Tushingham quickly secures a job washing dishes and just as quickly loses it after an impromptu paint and food fight. Meanwhile, Redgrave has secured jobs as nightclub hostesses. Seedy customer Ian Carmichael picks up Redgrave but Tushingham succeeds in saving her friends' chastity. Trendy fashion photographer Michael York somehow enters the scene by capitalizing off a humiliating picture of Redgrave, then instigating a pie fight at her new workplace (a restaurant that only serves pies, natch). When the girls return to their house, they find it has been destroyed as part of a TV prank and fortuitously receive 10,000 pounds in return. And this is when the story really explodes. Redgrave uses the money to sponsor her career as pop artist, which explodes overnight. There's a brilliant recording studio sequence that takes a hefty stab at prefabricated artistic product: Redgrave's song sounds terrible while recorded but excellent in playback. Concurrent to Redgrave's rise to stardom, awkward Tushingham achieves equal fame as a fashion model for new boyfriend York, and the two friends begin to despise one another. Smashing Time proceeds with a number of parties, destructive humor and a passable conclusion. Throughout the film, non-diagetic narrative songs document the characters' moods. This unusual device and other creative moments, including a dandy so distraught by getting pied that he commits suicide, evidence an adventurous force behind the script. Indeed, director Desmond Davis barely makes his presence felt. Unlike most films driven by the written word, this film's script would allow for a great finished product with any director with an adequate budget. Storytelling, after all, needs act as film's primary purpose and thus occasionally a film such as Smashing Time indicates that the director does not necessarily need to act as a film's primary author. This film also offers a valuable historic treatment of London during a particularly unique phase. Then well-known psych group Tomorrow show up all over the film, possibly as a stab at authenticity but effective if so. Nevertheless, their music does not actually appear in the movie; we're treated instead to a few songs by the undeservedly less famous group Skip Bifferty.
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