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Peer J. Oppenheimer
David Anthony Smith
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Silly and campy late night faire -- that I rather enjoyed!
The powers-that-be in Victorian London note the rise of street prostitution in their capital city and come up with the "French System." A kind of upmarket government-sanctioned brothel. However the public (and the police) aren't let on about their little secret.
This is the 1960's and the wild, the wacky, and the wacky-baccy has started to get to people's heads. This is one of those films that you feel is going to end up with a speed-ed up chase scene with all that you have learnt so far carefully junked -- but it doesn't quite get there. Close -- but not quite.
However it is also a classic case of setting up a plot and not bothering with it after a certain point in time. Maybe it didn't fit in with the bare breast quota laid down by the producers or maybe they spent too much time try to work out how to best film down a woman's cleavage?
The casting of the (now late) David Hemmings in a double role (bad/good) is a fatal mistake because both characters act pretty much the same and we only have hair colour to tell one from the other. After Blow Up he was seen as hot property although he is a cold fish who can't act a jot!
If you don't come from England and don't know Victorian literature then a lot is going to fly over your head. Given that the jokes are rare enough already the film can't afford their loss -- especially to a world audience. Indeed some of the jokes are in very bad taste: A little girl singing about her "little pussy" while we focus on George Sanders doing double-takes wouldn't be allowed today.
The Best House in London doesn't really have a plot more a laundry list of things that they want to get in. A mad Italian with an airship, the temperance movement, the Suffragettes, the upper/lower classes, people that are pro/anti the whore trade and women that don't want to be saved from a life of vice. Big money has been spent on the sets (complete with half dressed girls) and the left over change has gone on the script.
This is the kind of stuff I like watching late at night when I can't sleep (TCM puts it on that this time) when on-screen energy means more than common-sense. I am giving it a seven because I was entertained, but maybe that seven says just as much about me, where I come from and what I like than it does about the film. I can forgive campy nonsense -- can you?
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