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Primitive London

Sexploitation kingpin Stanley A Long teamed up with writers Donald and Derek Ford to launch this salacious tabloid expose on unsuspecting cinemagoers, promising to lift the lid on the seedy underbelly of modern London living. What you actually get is an hour and a half of… well, anything the producers fancied putting in, basically. It’s roughly equivalent to two dozen editions of Man Alive chopped into bits and then reassembled at random, all showing various aspects of the decade’s creeping moral decline. Interspersed with a liberal amount of bare norks, of course. Choice items include:

Wayward yoof: represented by Mods (a goofy Roger Daltrey type in a too-small pork pie hat buying a scarlet jacket), Rockers (seen at legendary bikers’ Mecca the Ace Cafe in Alperton) and, best of all, some Beatniks at the One Tun pub on Goodge Street. While the Rockers are monosyllabically sardonic (‘What would you do if you were Prime Minister?’ (Pause) ‘Get out of it, quick!’) the generally rather posh Beatniks (‘Where were you educated?’ ‘Oh, prep school, grammar school, university… and my bedroom mostly!’) aren’t afraid to chat fart, postulate and recite some of their poetry (‘That’s all I can remember, I’m afraid’) while sporting unabashed beards-without-moustaches and pulling thoughtfully on briar pipes.

Violence: helpfully introduced by a suit of armour coming to life, shambling over to a trestle table where bludgeons and swords are helpfully laid out, and swinging them stiffly about a bit, as the portentous voice-over drones on about mankind’s neverending conflict. It all builds up to footage of Mick MacManus in wrestling practice, accompanied by one of those comedy piano pieces with a twittering bird effect over the top.

Advertising: Barry Cryer tries to coach a haughty actor through endless takes of the line ‘Senor Coffee is real good!’ A trad gag, drawn out for slightly too long. And if they’re only recording a voice over, why do they start every take with a clapperboard?

Comedy: whereas up until 1959, comics apparently all sported ‘a red nose and the baggy checked pants of the bookmaker’, now they’re blue-tongued, anti-government and vicious to a man. Evidence consists of Ray Martine, playing a set at The Establishment Club, which here looks drab as anything. Martine cracks wise about Mrs Wilson as a nervy young couple shovel boiled cabbage down their faces. The man’s sharp, but the place is a dump. There was a five pound waiting list for this?

General gruesomeness: consisting of gratuitous battery chicken slaughter footage; a goldfish treated for fin rot in an intensive three-man operation, revived with ‘a squirt of whisky’; and close-up footage of a corn being removed. The narrator manfully tries to tie these gruesome bits of footage into the big ‘life in the raw’ theme, but he isn’t fooling anyone.

On top of all this there’s wife swapping, Jack the Ripper, car accidents, Billy J Kramer, stripping and, er, millinery.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Tom Ronson

    March 28, 2022 at 12:50 am

    Watched this for the first time a couple of years ago. Interesting, if not indispensable – and you’re right about The Establishment Club looking as dreary as all fuck.

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