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Two Very Different but very engaging British films
on 16 February 2016
Duffer was made in 1971 by Joseph Despins and William Dumaresque and is one of those films that has ‘cult’ written all over it but has dropped off the collective conscience. It tells the lurid story of a confused – and possibly mentally ill – young man who lives with a masochistic older gay man. He is also in love with a friendly prostitute called ‘Your Gracie’
He swings between the two, torn by his own wants and the need to satisfy the craven aims of the older man. This is coupled with the two film makers next outing some five years later in 1976 with the completely different – ‘The Moon over the Alley’. This is an entirely different affair altogether. Duffer could be seen as experimental in many ways from the ‘sound design’ – early electronic, to the lack of any dialogue. All the action is spoken to the mic and virtually nothing synchs with the on screen action. This can be seen as an alienation device but I would urge to stay with it.
‘The Moon over the Alley’ though is a much more human and accessible affair. Filmed in the Portobello Road area of London when it was going through a time of great flux. The film centres on a dilapidated and condemned boarding house. The occupants are a mixed bunch and we get to meet all of them and their stories as well as the other locals.
This is punctuated with songs and they are all really good. This is part soap opera, part social commentary and part musical. Now that seems to be a lot to take in but it really works. The characters come so much to life that I was left wanting to know more. There is violence, no sex but the inference thereof and fashion to be avoided. I absolutely loved it and have been thinking about this ever since. These films are recommended to all fans of the history of cinema and those who like a time capsule of a film for a forgotten England.