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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
During the 60's, British studios churned out a substantial number of
half-hour films, often paired with bigger budget movies. Some - like 'A
Home Of Your Own' and 'San Ferry Ann' - were comedies. This intriguing
1969 mystery was written and directed by Brian Cummins and went out in
the U.K. with Lindsay Anderson's brilliant 'If...'. It starred the late
Alexis Kanner ( fresh from 'The Prisoner' television series ) as
'Graham Baird', a twenty-nine ( hence the title ) year old business
executive whose hobbies are gambling, drinking heavily and womanising,
despite him being wed to the lovely Dee ( Justine Lord, another
'Prisoner' refugee ).
We first encounter Baird waking up one Saturday morning with a dreadful hangover in a strange Chelsea flat, wearing clothes too small for him, and a moustache drawn onto his face. He throws up in the toilet, and memories of the previous night gradually return. Baird had hit Soho to celebrate a successful business deal. After visiting a succession of strip joints, he meets the pretty 'Priscilla' ( Susan Hunt ), goes back to her flat, plays her childish dressing-up game, only to then pass out on the bed as she begins taunting him about his age. Her final mocking words are "Graham Baird...you are an old man!". Thinking he might have murdered the girl in a fit of rage, Baird panics. A private detective watching the flat telephones Dee to tell her Graham will soon be home. Satisfied her scheme has cured him of his philandering for good, she smiles. The film ends on a freeze-frame of Baird, trying to run through a crowd of rowdy football fans.
'Twenty Nine' is a good vehicle for the talented Kanner. He brings to 'Baird' the same moody intensity he brought the year before to 'The Kid' in 'Living In Harmony'. The film has a sinister atmosphere that grips from the word go, and never lets up, along with a strong flavour of the seediness of late '60's London. Yootha Joyce ( later found fame in the sitcom 'Man About The House' ) plays a prostitute. The film played a number of times on late night '70's television, but has not been seen anywhere recently. It would make a great extra on a future Blu-Ray release of 'Kings & Desperate Men' ( 1981 ).
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