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Boys and Girls Together (1979)

Six members of a multi-cultural household in Hampstead, north London, explore their innermost fantasies.
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Cast

Credited cast:
Helen FitzGerald ...
Jenny
Roger Furse ...
Don
Christine Maskelle ...
Ilsa
Paul Ong ...
Jat
Cherry Patel ...
Lily
Anthony 'Bam Bam' Thomas ...
Leroy
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Six members of a multi-cultural household in Hampstead, north London, explore their innermost fantasies.

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A masterpiece of eroticism

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30 October 1979 (UK)  »

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Boys And Girls Together
Composed by Clift Ritchard
Performed by Nuefrunt
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They're not feeling themselves tonight
8 October 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

One of the British sex film's most unusual affairs can also lay claim to having a title that is perversely deceptive, since going beyond the standard couplings referenced in the title, Boys and Girls Together is actually bisexually oriented and the first half is less about sex and more a meditation on loneliness and the act of masturbation.

Filmed in Hempstead and set in a seedy rented house straight out of Rising Damp, the boys and girls of the title are a bunch of youthful tenants, West Indians Lily and Leroy, Jat from Singapore, American Don, Ilsa from Germany and the homegrown Jenny. Paradoxically all are conventionally attractive people but rarely interact with each other, preferring to lock themselves away in their rooms with only sadness for company. The film observes all their mundane daily rituals, from doing the washing and ironing to making tea and just generally staring at four walls. All of the students seem on depressive trips, gay Jat dreams about his tennis playing ex-boyfriend while Leroy reads a letter from an estranged lover, and as lonely people often do the tenants spend allot of time playing with themselves with objects of lust ranging from porn magazines to a poster of The Who's Roger Daltrey. Their encounters in the outside world are initially somewhat disastrous, fish out of water Don attempts to pick up a prostitute in Soho only to see the tart run off with his cash, Ilsa tries to make a phone call to her boyfriend only to get harassed by an impatient phone caller while Lily is stalked by an old weirdo with a mumbling voice that sounds like someone trying to speak obscenities whilst holding their fingers on their nose (despite that this stalker encounter is quite terrifying). Eventually the tenants do indeed get together, Don and Lily exchange smiles at the door, brushing together on the landing proves the necessary spark between Jenny and Ilsa, while bisexual Leroy catches Jat masturbating over a copy of the Gay News and cautiously joins him. That Boys and Girls Together maintains an almost entirely serious tone, sensitivity rather than sniggering depicting masturbation, makes the typical British sexcom moments -when they eventually arrive- seem unexpected and ridiculously out of place. Lily spills a cuppa tea over Don's crotch leaving him torn between being scalded and exposing himself, while in the film's most crude moment Jenny slips in the bathroom and inadvertently has an erotic encounter with a toilet brush, emphasized by a loud Magic Roundabout like BOING-BOING-BOING noise on the soundtrack. Its also filmed mute, save from some badly dubbed in after the fact lines, instead relying on mood muzak and catchy songs whose lyrics act as a commentary on the narrative "love's hard to find when you're far from home", "every boy should have a boyfriend, every boy should have a gay friend" and "when with your girlfriend everything's all right". Actually the music itself isn't half bad, making you wish more was known about the film's mysterious composer, a man referred to in the credits as 'Clift Ritchard', which must surely be a joke pseudonym.

Director Ralph Lawrence Marsden, an Australian, also deserves commending for delivering by 1979 standards a quite enlightened piece of work offering surprisingly none stereotypical depictions of multi-cultural characters and gay men. Quite remarkable given that interracial relationships are few and far between in British films of the time and though brutally hacked about by the British censor the gay sex scenes between Leroy and Jat are completely unique for a genre where gays were universally depicted as mincing old queens usually played for all their limp wristed worth by Claire Rayner's brother. Another Clift Ritchard composition "what a lark it is to walk in a park on a Sunday", kicks off the second half of the film that finds the three couples meeting up in a park and inadvertently leaving with each others partners after getting lost in a maze, leading to several more sex scenes and the surreal ending where all the cast joyously dance and frolic naked in the park.

As explicit as it is, Boys and Girls Together is actually a sweet, hopeful little film about timid people overcoming their inhibitions and whose ideology ("all together, love for all, boys and girls together" croons Clift) seems more routed in the late Sixties rather than the dawn of the ruthless Eighties when the film was actually made. Who knew sexual and racial harmony could be found in Hempstead, or that a film centered around masturbation could turn out be -if you'll pardon the pun- quite touching.


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