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I went to a viewing of this in Brighton, UK at which the director, Barney Platts-Mills, and one actor, Roy Haywood, was present. tidbits regarding the film: it cost £18k (at 1969 prices) under budget of £20k.
All the actors were untrained and this was their first piece of acting.
Some of the actors were tearaway kids who engaged in theft in real life. They stole filming equipment from the set not realising its value, and that by doing so they threatened the films production.
Martin Scorsese has a 16mm print of the film in his private collection and regards it highly. The original negative was nearly thrown away when the film company went bankrupt but it was recovered from a rubbish pile by an attentive employee.
The director said that he preferred untrained actors to trained ones because they didn't ad-lib or interpret their roles: they played it straight from the script and that this was the reason for the extreme minimalism of the performances. For them it wasn't an exciting filmic opportunity it was, Roy Haywood said, "just a job - not exciting - just a way to earn money". The director said that that made their performances special.
Platts-Mills said that the main theme of the film, which most critics missed, was "why shouldn't a 15 year old girl sleep with those who she wishes to?"
The film's title "Bronco Bullfrog" refers to the thief who escaped from borstal and had to make his way in the world whilst on the run by engaging in theft. He does not play the major role in the film however. That goes to Del and Anne a young couple who meet in the deprived environment of Stratford in East London where there is little for kids to do and where they have no money. Their relationship strengthens and they attempt to escape their limiting environment by running away to the coast.
The films has its comic moments often driven by the utterly spartan & anorexic dialog. Conversations that would occupy tens of minutes of naff method-overacting in a Hollywood film are dispatched in two or three words: for example when the couple meet for the first time and agree to date the entire conversation is: "Del:do you want to go out? Anne:Yea, OK".
These are kids who are adrift and going nowhere. The plot is an engaging slice into their life and a unique fusion of drama and social documentary: unlike anything else made.
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