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Permissive (DVD + Blu-ray)
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BFI Flipside presents
PERMISSIVE (DVD + Blu-ray)
A film by Lindsay Shonteff
THE FLIPSIDE : rescuing weird and wonderful British films from obscurity and presenting them in new high-quality editions.
When Suzy arrives in London to visit an old friend, she is plunged into the ruthless world of the groupie, where she develops a cold, cynical instinct for survival. Mixing gritty location work, brooding flash-forward devices, and a soundtrack by cult prog rock legends Comus, Forever More and Titus Groan, Permissive is a grimly authentic countercultural experience.
By contrast, Bread - also included on this release - is a light-hearted exploration of the same milieu which features is own bona fide cult British rock bands, Juicy Lucy and Crazy Mabel.
- Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition
- Original Permissive trailer
- Bread (Stanley Long, 1971, 68 mins): a rare film in which a group of friends decide to stage a music festival
- Bread - mute outtakes (17 mins)
- 'Ave You Got a Male Assistant Please Miss? (Graham Jones, Jon Astley, 1973, 4 mins): an entertaining sex education film
- Extensive illustrated booklet with contributions by I Q Hunter, Lee Dorrian and members of Comus
UK | 1970 | colour | English language, with optional English hard-of-hearing subtitles | 90 minutes | Original aspect ratio 1.33:1
Disc 1: BD50 | 1080p | 24fps | PCM mono audio (48k/24-bit)
Disc 2: DVD9 | PAL | Dolby Digital mono audio (320kbps)
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As the BFI had access to the original 35mm camera film, which has evidently not had a lot of usage in the last 40 years, the picture quality is excellent throughout. There's a fine layer of grain, but the picture looks clear, especially in closeups. It should also be noted that there is both a Blu-ray and a DVD here, both with the same features. Extras are lavish, as is typical of Flipside releases. We get a 30-page booklet (with a better cover than the one that's on the case), containing information on the films, and a biography of Lindsay Shonteff. On the disc, there's a 79-minute film from 1971, 'Bread'. Another almost-forgotten film, this deals with a similar subject as 'Permissive', but takes itself far less seriously and plays out more as a sex comedy. It's mildly amusing, and has a certain dated charm to it, but it's wonderful to see such obscure films get a release. The video quality of 'Bread' is, if anything, even better than 'Permissive', but as 6 minutes of the original films were cut, and the audio for this 6 minutes is now lost, that appears now only as a mute special feature. There's a trailer for 'Permissive', and finally, from the BFI's The Joy of Sex Education, a short 4-minute 1973 warning about the dangers of not using contraception, ''Ave You Got a Male Assistant Please Miss'.
Suzy arrives from the provinces, fresh and innocent, ready to hook-up with her friends and experience first-hand what The Smoke has to offer in the way of rock-n'-roll fun. Acquaintance Fiona soon has her following hippie-rock band Forever More who show her more than 1000 ways in which to disrobe within seconds (or something) with more quaaludes thrown in than a 1973 screening of "Deep Throat" for good measure. So far so innocent-girl-led-astray storyline which you were expecting all along, with the resultant tragedy endgame to follow. But you're not watching this film for it's dog-eared narrative, but for a first-hand glimpse of the groupie life in the 1970s really. And you get it here in spades, thanks to Shonteff's apparent eye for exploitation cinema (He later directed the trashy Ripper-inspired "Night after Night after Night", erm, Flipside?...) and the colours and fashion of the era. It's a treat indeed.
Anyway, the movie looks good for it's age, but not on a par with companion Flipside piece "Privilege" it must be admitted. Chief extra here is the groupie film "Bread", which is a feature in itself with teenagers at the Isle-of-Wight festival trying to earn money by whatever clandestine idea they can come up with. also watch out for the sex-ed short "'Ave You Got A Male Assistant Please Miss?" which featured on the earlier BFI "The Joy Of Sex Education" DVD, but still worth a watch for some more '70s parochialism. Just buy it and prepare to feel just a little dirty.. Not to worry, a fresh pair of flares should do the treat. Arf.
Of course I picked up this DVD to get a glimpse of Comus, and glimpse only it is, as members of the band hover uncomfortably around the perimeter of a party. Still, Permissive is, in its own way, heaps of fun, and for lighter relief (ho-ho-ho) is accompanied by a 'confessions of a window cleaner' type film in which hairy 70s types put on a free festival. This is quite possibly the funniest British film to get (presumably fairly limited) distribution, being thoroughly disconnected from the culture it seeks to represent. Oddly, it does accidentally have its authentic moments, due largely to the necessity of co-opting extras into the mix.
Not an essential BFI DVD, but chock full of fun and definitely worthy of shelf space.
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