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3.8 out of 5 stars
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3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 17 February 2014
Having been a mediocre pop singer, a poor actor and a terrible film critic, Mike Sarne got into his head that he knew how to be a film director and somehow obtained the wherewithal to make this movie about Swinging London, with which he intended to turn his girlfriend, Genevieve Waite, into a star. Those of us who had disparaged his earlier efforts were left chopfallen in the extreme - we really hadn't known when we were well off, for Sarne was vastly more lousy at directing than he'd been in his previous show business jobs. What must it have been like for professional people to take their orders from someone so blatantly incompetent? The film is trivial, derivative, silly, nasty and dull, and in, its native Britain, it was ignored or derided. In America, where people perhaps didn't know how utterly false its portrait of London life was, it did a bit of business, and this led Twentieth Century Fox to make the utterly catastrophic decision to entrust Sarne with the director's role on "Myra Breckinridge". This proved to be a huge money-loser, an even bigger prestige-loser and one of the most disgraceful films ever made in Hollywood. Ms. Waite gave up acting (shrewdly), whilst Sarne's directing career simply collapsed, thank God. He just seemed to get worse and worse - "Myra" was, incredibly, a steep decline from "Joanna". At least "Joanna" has some fine photography from Walter Lassally (who may simply have ignored Sarne) and Donald Sutherland, Calvin Lockhart and the gorgeous Glenna Forster-Jones all maintain their professional standards, which can't have been easy. Incidentally, it's an unfathomable mystery that the British Film Institute should have regarded this drivel as worthy of restoration and DVD/Blu-Ray release whilst several key British movies of the 60s remain unavailable - where are the British editions of "Nothing But The Best", "Station Six - Sahara" and "Otley"?
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on 1 May 2011
Several recent reviews are claiming this is the 'Ultimate Swinging London' movie. They probably weren't there.
Swinging London was a lot cooler than this. London 1967 was the year of Flower Power, Sgt. Pepper, Procul Harum. fantastic soul music, Mini Coopers with blacked out windows. King's Road. No sign of any of them here. In many ways this film is rather square. It has one foot in 1967 and the other in 1937, which is really strange.

What really made London and the 60s swing was the music. Did I mention the music? The music used for this film is mostly really, really awful...a sort of a bad 60s version of 30s big band swing.

Moving on now from the disappointing soundtrack. The film seems like a sort of patchwork of ideas stuck together not very well. Though some of the ideas were very good indeed. The photography is very good. London looks beautiful. The parks do, anyway. There's a beautiful sequence of Joanna running through Hyde Park which looks all lush and green. There's lots of green in this film and by the end I was big fan of green. It's nice to see people wearing clothes of many colours. Life in London 2011 is pretty morose clothes wise. There's a scene of a funeral in this film that could have been shot last week, everyone in black.

Fashion wise this film is spot on, actually and if 60s fashion interests you, click the 'buy it' button immediately. Joanna's outfits are terrific and they defintely capture the moment...if only the music had been better. If only Michael Sarne hadn't been so obsessed with the 30s.

Most of the acting is atrocious. Genevieve Waite had only been in England a few weeks when she was cast, yet she's supposed to represent 60s London? Her art teacher talks, I think, with a German accent. Every word he says sounds flat, like the horrid music. Canadian, Donald Sutherland, is supposed to be very Upper Class English. His attempts at a posh English accent are absurd. Then there's some other guy, Dominic, one of Joanna's lovers, who's supposed to be an Old Etonion and he sounds like he learnt his posh English accent from watching Scooby Doo. It's quite funny, actually. But there aren't many laughs here. A few though, especially with Joanna's long suffering Grandma. Poor old dear. Joanna really puts her through it.

Lovely scenes in Morocco.

As well as the few funny moments, there are a few touching ones too.

Included on this DVD there's what could have been a very good interview with, Michael Sarne, the writer and director of this piece, but it's been edited right down. Why? So there's space for a couple of very boring short films? One by Michael Sarne, a weird sort of travelog from 1966 about the South Of France and some other tedious artsy rubbish that also has horrible music.

Back to Joanna (I'm jumping all over the place, like this film), this whole project has the feeling of Michael Sarne thinking 'I can't believe I'm getting away with this because I don't know what on earth I'm doing, but at least I'm having fun'. (His fun, not ours).

Apparently when this thing was screened for the critics in New York, the final scene, when Joanna boards the train home and says something like 'Don't worry, I'll be back', members of the audience shouted 'No! No!'.

But I hate to end on a sour note. It is good news that these rare 60s films are making it onto DVD and the passing of time has given this film some sort of kitsch, retrospective value. I'd really recommend you rent it rather than buy it, (unless you're into 60s clothes), because I can't imagine many people would want to see it more than once.
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on 24 September 2013
A poor movie that went nowhere, worse than I remember it from 1959 when I saw in as a first run. I only bought the DVD because Rod McKuen is my friend and I try to have samples of all his work and this movie was missing from my library. I do think Rod's soundtrack was good, but a poor vehicle to deliver his music. I'm still searching for a copy of Me, Natalie - again a good score, and, as I recall, a better film than Joanna.
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on 13 June 2011
Spotted a review of this in the Guardian some weeks back and as I had listened to Director Mike Sarne back in the 60's, I thought it might be fun. Telling the story of a 17 year old (I think) visiting London it is wacky and fun and funny with a young Donald Sutherland playing a rather louche member of the rich aristocracy brilliantly. Scenes of London in the 1960's will appeal to those of a certain age, the attitudes of the 60's are well captured and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Not up there with Blow-up perhaps but well worth an evening.
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on 19 August 2014
This gets slaughtered but i really liked it, anyone interested in the 60s era could do far worse than get a copy. Joanna annoyed many other reviewers but i found her likeable, and sutherland has a goofy charm! each to their own x
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on 18 January 2014
This starts off in monochrome then into colour,then into Joanna's thoughts,scenes that confuse the film,then you think it has ended,then starts again,then goes back to monochrome,colour again..the end? No still more scenes to get through..then as Joanna leaves on the train..The End? No! A farewell dance routine at the station with nearly all the cast. The End. Yippee. Still strange.
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on 6 August 2014
Some wonderful 60's eye candy here - beautiful cinematography - amazing music.
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on 8 March 2013
If you're a fan of Michael Sarne's JOANNA, you'll be over the moon with this gorgeous BluRay transfer. The film is so dated it's painful at times to watch, but at other times it transcends the dreadful 60's backdrop it strives to capture. Overall, this is worth collecting, and if you're a fan like me, it's great to be taken on a trip through swinging London of the 60s. It's almost like being there, except I wasn't. That's why I'll cherish Joanna for years to come.
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on 11 February 2012
Oh my god poor joanna,i worried about her after watching this movie.If she was based on a real person i wanted to know what happened to her.Great to see London in fine colour in the 60s.Nice music from Rod Mckuen.
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