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Swinging London? Swinging from a gibbet...
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"?