Beat Girl  [DVD]
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Gillian Hills stars in the title role of this cult British drama that delves into the youth culture of the late 1950s. After wealthy architect Paul Linden (David Farrar) returns from Paris with his new wife Nichole (Noelle Adam), his wayward teenage daughter Jenny (Hills) rebels by throwing herself headlong into the London Beatnik scene. Jenny mixes with her hop-head friends in the coffee houses, bars and clubs of Soho, where smarmy strip club owner Kenny King (Christopher Lee) tries to seduce her into the glamorous dancing business. When an old friend of Nichole's reveals her dubious past to Jenny she uses the information to blackmail her new stepmother and embarrass her father. But as her behaviour grows increasingly wild and reckless the newlyweds are forced to intervene to put a stop to Jenny's unruly antics.
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crossed with a striptease/white slaver sleazy plot and great fun.
Jam-packed full of familiar faces. Oliver Read as the Chelsea psycho. Nigel Green as a lecherous nightclub manager. Peter McInnery as the lost posh boy. Christopher Lee as an evil pimp, Dracula without the fangs.
David Farrar, all at sea, as the beat girl's father, is an architect designing the hideous 'city 2000' It's always a mistake to use dates as it quickly ages everything. I'm reminded of the hilarious line in a 50s science fiction film, "I come from the future: 1975."
Adam Faith does well as the slum kid with a guitar and, as you'd expect, John Barry delivers a good score.
The 14 year old Gillian Hills (doubled in her more intimate close-ups) is in a long line of often convent educated English girls who had careers in France, ranging from Petula Clark to Jane Birkin.
Of course, we have to remember that it would have been pretty racy stuff at the time when even the, now innoculous, title was almost akin to calling someone a drug addicted prostitute.
People old enough to remember might find it hard to recover after the early apperarence of 'Minnie Caldwell', a Coronation Street regular, as the housekeeper which is almost as disconcerting as 'Alf Roberts' appearing in 'Get Carter'.
Wow Daddy-O Im Over and Out!
Mr. Linden returns to his posh house in Kensington accompanied by his new,gorgeous French wife. They are greeted by his housekeeper,Martha. Linden's daughter,Jennifer, is a self-assured art college student who is definitely hip and wants to stretch her wings. She of courses resents her architect father who seems to be more concerned with his model of 'City 2000' than with anything else. His world is of corporate elderly men in suits. Jennifer is convinced that Nicole is a gold-digger and the two do not get on. Their relationship becomes an important frisson of the plot.
Jennifer slips out at night down to the clubs and coffee bars of Soho. They dance and Adam Faith sings rather tame guitar music which sounds similar to that of Duane Eddy and the Shadows. However, they don't drink alcohol. They rage against the squares as they vie with other to be hip and with -it. Jennifer's world is there. When Nicole follows her to her hangout coffee bar called 'The Off beat' she is made distinctly unwelcome by Jennifer as she does not like being spied upon. At the door of the coffee bar,Nicole meets an old acquaintance from her Paris days now called 'The Duchess' and she did an act at the strip club over the road. This is owned by Charles,,.an extremely smooth performance by Christopher Lee who is as seductive as Dracula and just as deadly to young girls. The people in dinner jackets at his club are far removed from the suits her father mixes with. When Jennifer finds out from The Duchess the nature of her Parisian relationship with Nicole, they were both 'exotic dancers' and, perhaps, prostitutes, this is something she can hold over Nicole. Jennifer reckons the world of the stripper is suitably exotic and exciting, just right for her independent image.
Having been introduced to Charles by The Duchess, he immediately moves in on her. The fact that she was under-age did not seem to bother him too much but eventually we realize that she is destined to replace the Duchess whose looks are fading. Jennifer's desire for excitement really comes out in a car race back to Kensington from the Chislehurst Caves between the two sports car owners. They decide to 'play chicken' on the railway lines over a viaduct - Jennifer is the last one to get her head off the track. The film 'Rebel without a Cause' must have come to mind. They return to Jennifer's house and have a good time in a scene approaching a Roman orgy; one of the girls sings a song which feature the lyrics,''. It's legal. Just think what we can do without breaking the law'. The daughter of the house does a strip tease' the tease bit finishing out of camera shot. The orgy is terminated by Nicole who is quite able to give a hopeful swinger a slap. Daddy arrives home and slings them all out. At this point, the past is revealed and there is acceptance because Daddy loves his new wife.
The ending was excellent involving a brief did-she-or didn't she stabbing murder. In the end,the forces of convention bring the story to a 'proper' conclusion. Jennifer was out of her depth in a squalid Soho world where they could eat her for breakfast. It is the strait and narrow world which overcomes the indulgent anti-everything set of the beatniks who did not 'dig' violence. Gillian Hills as Jennifer joined many new eventual stars like Peter McEnery,Oliver Reed,Shirley Ann Field who were soon to make their marks alongside other character actors like Nigel Green. This was an intriguing blast from the past, very much of its time. Gillian Hills has a face which reminds one of Monroe and Bardot and able to take on the personas of each. Enjoyable.
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