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  Yellow Teddy Bears, The Bad GirlsBuy this film here.
Year: 1963
Director: Robert Hartford-Davis
Stars: Jacqueline Ellis, Annette Whiteley, Georgina Patterson, Anne Kettle, Margaret Vieler, Noel Dyson, Victor Brooks, Richard Bebb, Ann Castle, Douglas Sheldon, Lesley Dudley, Iain Gregory, Jill Adams, John Bonney, Lucette Marimar, Raymond Huntley
Genre: Drama, Trash
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: At this all-girls school the teenage pupils have a method of letting their fellow classmates know something that their parents and teachers would never have guessed at. The ones who consider themselves more mature sport badges of yellow teddy bears on their blouses, and the reason they think of themselves as that way is because this is to show they have had sex, whereas the ones without the badges are virgins, and therefore lower down the pecking order of their social circles. One of the girls is sixteen-year-old Linda (Annette Whiteley), who has an older boyfriend nicknamed Kinky (Iain Gregory), a window cleaner, but she is not as enamoured of him as she used to be for a very simple reason...

That being Linda has fallen pregnant! Oh, the shame! So what is she to do, does she have the baby and give it up for adoption or does she have an illegal abortion courtesy of someone June (Jill Adams) knows, Jill being the prostitute who is grooming these schoolgirls to be part of her stable of ladies of ill repute? What was big news in 1963 was quickly trounced by bigger news as the contraceptive pill was introduced, which quickly rendered The Yellow Teddy Bears somewhat past it as far as social commentary went, but was it wholly intended as such? There were some very interesting names behind the camera, but the most significant ones were Derek Ford and Donald Ford on script duties.

They were men who took advantage of the loosening of censorship and the growing air of so-called free love in the nation which meant a lot more actors and actresses - especially the actresses - who were willing to take their clothes off, and not when it was artistically necessary either, more often if the price was right. So lucrative were these cheap films that their production bloomed from the late sixties onwards, propping up a British industry that was heading to the doldrums in the seventies, and the Fords were purveyors of that kind of smut; not that the Brits saw any nudity in this, unless they visited the Continent and saw the specially made edit that included a little more flesh than was seen in the version released at home.

Not from the performers playing the schoolgirls, it should be emphasised, the filmmakers didn't want to receive a knock on the door from the rozzers at any time, but you get the idea, although the grand finale was a ten minute discussion on how far schools should go to educate the pupils about sex, which was about as dry as that sounded, the mere premise was enough to get the punters into the cinemas hoping for some titillation. In spite of all that, there were some decent points made in light of the widening generation gap that was more apparent as the decade progressed, underlined by a sequence where the girls go to a dance where Kinky's band were playing, obviously patterned after Cliff Richard and the Shadows, not 1963's biggest news The Beatles, who unsurprisingly turned down the offer to appear in this.

Quite a bit was informed by the kitchen sink drama that was beginning to lose its lustre after its cusp of the fifties into the sixties heyday, mostly moving to television for the socially relevant material, but you could detect the influence of say, A Kind of Loving here, which also detailed what happened after an unplanned pregnancy. Except, if you were genuinely interested in what happened to teenage tearaway Linda, the fact this ended with that round table meeting and not a resolution to her plight would leave you more disappointed than anything, betraying that every character in here was a mouthpiece for some point of view in the sex education debate. Interest in The Yellow Teddy Bears now would, needless to say, rest upon the social commentary angle for as a drama, even as one with a sexual theme, it was pretty staid and its once daring and indeed trashier qualities had long since been superseded, within a couple of years of its initial appearance. As a matter of interest, it was inspired by an actual event. Music by Malcolm Mitchell.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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