No lover of London's Soho should miss this documentary
Presumably the BFI suddenly discovered it had this documentary in its Archive. (It's currently available to view for free on the BFI site). As far as I'm aware none of its footage has been seen in other films. It's a gem in miraculously unfaded Eastman Colour. The commentary marvels at Soho's cosmopolitan charms and how people of many nationalities seem happily to co-exist. (Unless the scenes were staged there are more interracial couples than we might expect in 1956. This provides an interesting contrast to the race riot newsreel footage of the period). The film centres on the Soho Fair, a long-gone festival that we're told lasted a week. It included a parade and the Waiters' Race. There's rather too much coverage of Italia Conti students dancing in Golden Square. There's also a plug for the modern art in Gallery One. Finally there's a brief look at Soho's nightclubs, notably the Mandrake. There's no direct sound, particularly odd when we see musicians performing and all we hear is music composed for the film. There's virtually no mention of sex either. An exception is a float in the parade sponsored by Jean Straker's Visual Arts Club. Their building was in Soho Square, next to that of Republic Pictures, briefly seen. Both buildings were demolished in the late 1960s. Almost everything shown has vanished apart from the Algerian Coffee Stores in Old Compton Street. The production company seem never to have made another film; but this one was released by Columbia.
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