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VINE VOICEon 10 March 2010
The groupie film was a staple of the late 60's / early 70's B-Movie scene, as nothing played into the hands of the Daily Mail-reading moral classes more than footage of adolescents running away from home and doing questionable things with bearded guitarists. Hence films like "Groupie Girl" and "The People Next Door" were prime pieces of exploitation arcana. The British scene was as vibrant as the American scene and not just supplementary, and it's best represented here in Lindsey Shonteff's "Permissive", and I get to my knees and praise the BFI and their Flipside label for keeping a "lost" film in the public eye.

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.
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on 29 May 2012
The ninth entry in the BFI's Flipside series, a label intended to give films that may have received very little exposure in the past much more attention than they'd ever had previously, and Lindsay Shonteff's 'Permissive' from 1970 is an excellent example of that. It's the story of a girl, Suzy, coming to meet an old school friend in London, but ends up getting a lot more than she expected when she's drawn into the murky work of groupies. We see Suzy rise from an outsider to being at the top of the pile, as she follows the band Forever More (who were a real band and play themselves in the film). Though it's the same subject, it's a completely different film to Almost Famous, and with its dreary colours and depressed-looking people it does anything but glamourise the life. The acting is equally unspectacular, though Maggie Stride in the lead role was compelling throughout. This is not a classic film, but as a document of its time, as many of the Flipside releases now are, it's certainly worthy of watching, and is oddly one of my favourite Flipside films, despite the negatives I mentioned. One of the highlights is the music, which was provided by late-60s 'progressive-folk' band Comus. You'll probably remember the music long after you've forgotten the film.

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'.
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on 13 April 2011
In some ways the films that occupy this DVD are hilariously bad, being beyond cheap in terms of production values. Of course these films are also fascinating documents of social history - a great justification for enjoying these tawdry flicks that have about them a 'what the butler saw' character. The age of 'free sex', it transpires, was pretty grim - you get the feeling it's a rare day a sheet gets washed, let alone a hairy rocker.

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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VINE VOICEon 24 April 2013
My expectations for this film were towards the margins: contemporaneous Britain spotting. There was some but not enough to justify the purchase.

The film is self-indulgent with few redeeming features and bad acting. It would have been better, perhaps, if it were not taking itself so seriously. The challenge is to identify the audience for whom it was intended at the time. The "usual suspects" probably didn't need to see the film to be suitable shocked. The BBFC chopped it up at the time (apparently) because of its attempts to be outrageous (but frankly, it was student film society outrageous with little social message), so probably a lot of film finance was consumed for not much outcome.

The second feature is better but only just, with a number of cardboard cut-outs failing to interact credibly, but the odd moment of slight comedy. A delight for me was to see posters for Fat Mattress (cf Thin Pillow) in the background of the promoters office and a better slice of London scenery.
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on 27 April 2015
This is badly acted and although the storyline is okay its only the music that made me sit though the whole film
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on 20 November 2011
No T&A only in these movies - rather unbritish. Straight forward in other words. You get your money's worth in nostalgia as well. Not Lindsay Shonteff's best buy a long shot but his nudest I've seen so far.
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on 27 November 2015
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on 5 March 2016
Average typical period piece.Worth one view.
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on 13 January 2015
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