A 1968 release by Paramount and possibly one of the best known films of the time. This particular disc marks the first time the film was released onto DVD.
Up the Junction was based on the novel of the same title by Nell Dunn, she also wrote Poor Cow, if you can grab a copy of either book then give them a go. Great read.
Suzy Kendal plays the part of Polly a girl from the 'right ' side of town bored by her Chelsea lifestyle. She decides to move to Battersea in the search for meaning and reality. She takes on a dreary flat, finds a job in a factory and meets up with the very rough and ready Peter, Dennis Waterman. The scene setting is great and the contrast between Polly and Peter couldn't be any better defined. He struggles to understand her real motivation. Why would a rich girl want to live his life?. That's the crux of the film. In her search for meaning and reality Polly is attempting to leave behind everything her new friends crave. Can they ever really trust her?. Will she prove herself or return to her previous privileged lifestyle?.
Watch out for a brilliantly cast Maureen Lipman and the gorgeous Adrienne Posta who I so wanted to be!.
There are sensitive themes, abortion, moderate violence (Maureen Lipman slogging it out in a street fight for instance - yes really!) and strong language which result in the film having a 12+ rating.
Running time is approx. 114 mins.
Picture and audio quality are about as good as it get for a film from 1968.
More than happy to recommend this classic of British cinema.
Contains plot spoilers.
A fascinating late 60s English film chronicling the exploits of a privileged Chelsea girl who, having grown tired of the Sloane Square set, seeks adventure just over the other side of the river in (what was then) down-at-heel Battersea. How times change!
The reason for the five stars is, for me, the way it captures the energy of quite a pivotal point in London's history, heading as it was towards the peak of its late 60s swinging fabulousness, and for the fact that it was one of the few movies of the period to deal quite matter-of-factly with issues like teenage pregnancy, abortion, sex out of marriage, domestic violence and all the other things which these days are de rigueur. Also, it wasn't that long ago, but blimey HOW long ago it was - everyone drink drives, everyone smokes (even Rube when she finds out she's pregnant!), guys on bikes don't wear crash helmets, and yet the world still turns. Happy days.
What lets this film down is that not one of the characters is developed beyond the two-dimensional, superficial level of pantomime. Take the characters out of this film and they could easily be in Carry on Camping. All the women (except Polly) are giggly schoolgirls, all the lads are randy wideboys. The only exception is Rube, for whom you can at least develop some pathos as she goes through the gruelling backstreet abortion. Otherwise they're all pretty grotesque, but likeable all the same.
Most disappointingly, the storyline is wildly inconsistent, almost to the point of making me think they made a mistake in the cutting room. Rube, once her abortion (by Terry) is over, is, in the next scene, engaged to him! And then in the NEXT scene he's mown down by a truck and killed. And then she doesn't really appear in the film any more. And why would Polly want to go out with Peter anyway? He's moody, insensitive and immature. His response to Terry's death? "Cheer up! Forget about it. No point dwelling. I know we'll have a nice weekend away!"
The film raises a few interesting ideas about grass-is-always-greener - Polly is desperate to escape the wealth that Peter dreams of - but even though this is the main thrust of the film, it's laid on with a trowel rather than explored. The way Polly drifts around in her 60s designer gear with a wistful smile on her face watching all the poor-but-happy skivvies on their fag breaks is pretty cringeworthy, and the social edginess of the film has dated into something that now looks quaint and patronising. One final downside is the really low-grade sound editing: much of the dialogue was subsequently re-dubbed, and quite a hatchet job was made of it.
All this and still 5 stars? Well, yes. All these faults do not detract from a celluloid slice of history. Some cracking location views of London as it was, groovy soundtrack courtesy of Manfred Mann, and a fantastic cast consisting of Suzy Kendall as Polly, Maureen Lipman and Adrienne Posta as sisters Sylvie and Rube and a strikingly handsome and fresh-faced Dennis Waterman as Peter combine to make it a film definitely worth having, and now that it's out on official release, there really is no excuse for not owning it.
on 1 January 2009
It's a surprise to everyone (including yours truly) when beautiful socialite Polly Dean gives up a life of luxury in opulent West London to go and live in a grotty flat in ruthless Battersea and work at a chilly chocolate factory with a bunch of raucous, moral-less, bee-hived slappers.
Such is the plot of 'Up The Junction' (the title refers to Clapham Junction Railway Station around which much of the film is set), a gritty but reassuring drama, vaguely in the style of 'Cathy Come Home.' Although Polly's reasons for abandoning her pampered lifestyle are a bit obtuse - she alludes that it makes her sick ('yeuchh' is how she describes it) - she appears genuinely happy in her new environment of sling-backs, pop culture, abortion and random drunken violence.
Polly gets involved with Sylvie and Rube, two dayglo sisters straight from the 'Knees Up Muvva Brahn' school of tarts-with-a-heart'; and their mother, a twitchy screeching harpy.
She also finds herself a boyfriend, Peter, a gold-digging charmer with ideas well above his furniture-removal-boy station.
'UTJ's main bone of controversy was a long, heart-breaking abortion sequence. Terminations were illegal in the UK at the time the film came out, with the law just on the cusp of change, and while it does appear slightly preachy, it's vitally handled sympathetically.
From the disgusting junk-shop hiding an appalling sideline upstairs, to the screaming culmination at Rube's home, the whole section is sickeningly believable. Nothing explicit, just unpleasant sweaty close-ups of panic-stricken, mascara-streamed faces; mouths howling to the Heavens (between curses) in emotional pleas for respite.
All this is offset with a dream-like stroll by Polly along Wimbledon Common, where she seems to glide through all the stages of life. Babies wail, couples grope, oldies stroll hand-in-hand, and everything in-between.
With Manfred Mann's smashing soundtrack at full volume, it all seems dangerously close to being a little clumsy and crass, but it just about works.
Director Peter Collinson ('Fright,' 'the Italian Job,' 'Straight on Til Morning.') has a nose for realism and utilises it to the absolute maximum; hitting hard when he has to, but still finding beauty and humour in even the most bleak and difficult situations.
'UTJ' looks like a forceful history lesson, but unlike 'Quadrophenia' or 'the Knack' it's no meaningless nostalgia trip or tourist film for the modern viewer. It has brilliant locations (showing London as it exists no longer); the starkly beautiful Battersea Power Station, a marvel of 1930's modernism, seems to be observing every scene; dominating the industrial sky-line like a gothic Hammer castle, only relinquishing it's surveillance at the end credits.
The cast is great too. 70's scream queen Suzy Kendall plays Polly; the impossibly handsome Dennis Waterman is Peter; notable theatre actress Maureen Lipman is Sylvie; and the unfortunate Rube is played quirkily by disappeared-without-trace Adrienne Posta.
No frills on this one. Rude, garish and brutal - but compelling, funny and human at the same time.
The dvd transfer is excellent: intimately revealing the exquisite nature of the simple personal stories hidden away in the vast 'Scope framing.
on 12 November 2011
This film deserves a place in anybody's collection who is interested in swinging 60's London. The film centres on two characters, Polly, played by Suzy Kendall, and Peter, played by Dennis Waterman. There are a host of cameos from actors of the era. Polly comes from a wealthy family living in Chelsea. Bored with money and what it does to people she goes across the river, and soon finds a job working in a factory. Soon after renting a dingy flat in Battersea, she meets Peter, who, disillusioned with his own life in Battersea, cannot understand why she has turned her back on money, and 'the good life'. The film carries off this story suberbly, showing what it was like living in 60's London, never giving in to the themes it portrays of the time. This film is presented in it's original ratio of 2.35:1, and has been given an anamorphic transfer. The picture quality is simply stunning, with pin sharp definition, and amazing colours. It shows just how good films can look on dvd if given enough care. Full marks to Paramount, for such an amazing transfer.
The soundtrack is also excellent, featuring songs from Manfred Mann, who did the soundtrack, which is presented here in 5.1.
on 14 February 2009
This film is in our opinion a classic,right down to the title song by
Manfred Mann,it shows the seamier side of the swinging sixties,and a
rich girl played by Suzy Kendal who is most likely bored with her
humdrum way of life wants to see what the other side is like,and she
certainly finds out,but the people she meets are in most cases warm
hearted down to earth,no frills,people whom just get on with their lives
as it should be.
on 29 October 2014
This is fascinating as a social document.
Filmed on location for the most part and with absorbing local detail. If you know parts of Battersea it is hard to recognise the areas shown as the nature of society and investment in this area renders it almost unrecognisable relative to the battersea of today.
This also documents the many beneficial social and legislative changes that have occurred since the 1960's.
Intolerance of domestic violence, the casual acceptance of mortality, poverty and illegal abortion all feature. The juxtaposition of the aspirations of the two protagonists is interesting as is the poor level of communication between them in an age when matches were made more by chance and people did not set out so much with a shopping list of desirable attributes for their intended.
on 9 June 2013
Very much a curiosity piece these days, what with nearly every sentence starting "'Ere!" and many a "bleedin'" this and "bleedin'" that, plus the working classes are seen through very romantic rose tinted glasses. But there is a certain period charm to proceedings. Adrienne Posta steals the film, so it's a shame that she, and many others seen here, had careers that lasted only a few years more. Suzy Kendall was perhaps slightly miscast, too, as a twenty-one year old as, good as she is, she does look much older. All in all, though, cringeworthy pub singing scene aside, a superb and relatively rare full colour British film of the "kitchen sink" oeuvre.
The description of the film needs changing, however. Blink and you will miss Susan George.
on 14 November 2010
Gritty down to earth film, with a lot of well known stars in their younger days, some looking surprisingly tasty!
A very good if not slightly glossy British kitchen sink drama, which is certainly both thought provoking and astute. The film portrays the area of Battersea in London with passion and has good cinematic camera work. It is a spirited piece of work and is certainly a film of its era and today gives us a good history lesson that explores the class system of the swinging sixties and how it affects people's lives even up to the present day in the UK.
Suzy Kendall plays a posh rich young idealist who has the luxury of following her dream of leaving her over privileged life in Chelsea to slum it among the 'more real', 'more alive' people of working class Battersea in the so called swinging 60’s. Her resulting journey looks rather nostalgic to us today with the class divide thing and the experiencing real life stuff, but this was a different era, and women's roles and opportunities were very different..
The film slightly romanticises the lives of those down at heel but good hearted Londoners, but I think the adaptation from the Nell Dunn story has become an enjoyable classic of sixties British cinema with its vibrancy and 60’s sound-track from Manfred Mann.
There are fine character and career defining performances from the likes of Dennis Waterman, Maureen Lipmann, Liz Fraser, Hilda Baker and Adrienne Posta. The subject matter is also very contemporary as the film covers among other things domestic violence and the sensitive issue of backstreet abortion, because abortions were only just being de-criminalised at the time. A great social commentary.
on 19 September 2011
Amongst some of the best cultural films that have ever been made in the 1960s, 'Up The Junction' stands well and truly apart from the 'Mod-Rockers' scene. Although the story itself is about the grim reality of a promiscuous society in early sixties Industrial London, the secrecy and shame of illegal abortion; it is also a significant biographical account of changing attitudes, hopes and ambitions in a decade that underwent many social and political challenges.
Youth culture is at the centre of this generous film, about social and class identity, how two parallel worlds meet and collide with spectacular conclusion. I imagined this documentary style - kitchen-sink reality piece to focus entirely on the widespread back-street abortion shops, yet not at all: It provided so much more information and guidance than I had anticipated as well as gave a very different perspective on even the Mod-Rocker lifestyle, often portrayed as two opposing gangs - Quadraphonia a classic example made in the same era that Up The Junction was cast. This film sees a union of the two gangs in their shared behaviours and attitudes, a recognition that although they are struggling for individual identity, also caught in the same deprived web, seeking a sense of belonging from each other in a united co-existence.
The main body of characters are just starting out as actors themselves, makes this a credible experience. You cannot draw biased conclusions, which is a hallmark of a great kitchen-sink reality film.