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George A. Cooper
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
Shortly after seeing this film in 1991 I was offered my 'dream' job and found myself heading down from the north to live in London for the first time. Just like the two girls in this crazy movie.
I loved this when I first saw it. And when I watch it now, it also captures some of the excitement that I felt back in '91.
London is a magical place with a unique feel. I was on a 'high' for the first few months, with a tingle down my spine whenever I walked around famous places. Even now I can't walk down Carnaby Street without visualising Lynn Redgrave skipping down it in the fast-cut musical sequence in Smashing Time. Many of the songs are, to be honest, quite bad. But they are also rather catchy and so stick in the mind.
There are many satirical swipes at the culture of the time. The photographer (Michael York) is David Hemmings in Blow Up. Rita Tushingham is the model Twiggy and Lynn Redgrave is pop star Helen Shapiro. The TV show is Candid Camera.
The '60's slang is also set up. The girls search for a 'switched on' pad and Anna Quayle runs a shop called 'Too Much'. When Rita Tushingham asks if customers won't be put off by the name (in the sense that the goods are 'too' expensive) the true meaning of the phrase is explained to her. The goods are just 'too much' (ie. mind blowing).
John Clive is at his best as the rather camp and slightly Jewish owner of Sweeney Todd's pie restaurant. The pie fight itself is well executed with some neat comic touches, such as the 'queen' who shoots himself when his fashionable suit is hit by a flying pie.
Indeed, Smashing Time is something of a gay cult classic. Murray Melvin appears as a gay character (as he did a few years earlier in A Taste of Honey, again with Rita Tushingham).
Other familar faces of the period include Arthur Mullard, Irene Handl and Ian Carmichael and there are interesting glimpses of locations as they were 30 years ago -- including the railway station at St. Pancras.
This is definitely a film you will want to watch again and again. You'll never tire of the musical and comic set pieces.
Unfortunately it is very rarely shown on TV in Britain. I haven't seen it on terrestrial TV since 1991 and it is not currently available on either video or DVD in the UK.
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