“Billy Liar”, from 1963, stars Tom Courtney, Julie Christie, Wilfred Pickles and Leonard Rossiter. The director was John Schlesinger.
Billy lives up north in England with his parents and grandmother. It’s a grim, grey post-war world with no glimpse of the sixties. Billy wants to leave, and lives in a dreamworld, rather as Walter Mitty does.
Billy is in all kinds of trouble, at work, with engagements to two girls and with his family.
The film depicts the north, well Bradford, as a dismal place. By any standards, Billy wanting to leave is understandable. And when he re-connects with Liz who is a free spirit, there’s opportunity no-one could resist.
My local cinema did a short series of Japanese classics recently. One of them was the original “Godzilla” (aka “Godzilla: King of the Monsters!”) film, actually called “Gojira”. When it came to the west, it was edited and altered and Raymond Burr was added in.
The original film is worth digging out, if you can. It’s a little crude by modern standards, but there’s an interesting story. Remember that the war had been over maybe ten years, a little longer, so was still fresh in people’s minds.
Oh, and avoid all the re-makes and spin offs.
Another Japanese film from the 1950s is “Seven Samurai”. It’s the answer to a classic quiz question, which film was remade as “The Magnificent Seven”. But the original is worth a watch. It’s long, but fascinating.
If we had to pick one film of the Carry On series to watch, it would be this film from 1963.
It stars Sid James, Hattie Jacques, Kenneth Connor, Charles Hawtrey and Jim Dale.
The story is a simple one. Charlie and Peggy (Sid and Hattie) are a married couple. The marriage is an unhappy one – Charlie owns a struggling taxi company and has to work hard to make a living. Peggy resents this and wants a life of parties and entertainment. To punish Charlie, she sets up her own company with the idea to beat Charlie’s company out of business.
So, why is this film one of our favourtes? Sure, it looks very dated. It’s not even massively funny.
And that’s exactly it. It’s a glimpse of early 60s England. The Beatles were just around the corner.
The cars, the fashions, the style are indeed dated. When the new cab company is set up, GlamCabs, the female drivers dress in skimpy outfits and drive much more modern vehicles, Ford cars I believe. It probably seemed quite shocking at the time.
There’s loads of driving round the streets of Windsor. It’s a real time capsule of the early 1960s and not to be missed.
There are some brilliant websites and YouTube videos where you can see the locations around Windsor and Maidenhead where many of them were filmed.