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  Under the Table You Must Go World Of Pub
Year: 1969
Director: Arnold L. Miller
Stars: Murray Kash, Gordon Davis, Liam Nolan, Denis Compton, Fred Emney, Benny Green, Reg Gutteridge, Len Harvey, Stuart Henry, Jimmy Hill, Jonathan King, Monty Modlyn, Richard Murdoch, Pete Murray, Jon Pertwee, Tommy Trinder, Billy Walker
Genre: DocumentaryBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Two cars, one a Rolls Royce, are sitting in a London parking area, and since their owners have gone off to attend to their business or leisure, the vehicles jealously wonder if they could be doing the same. What is there to do in the British capital, anyway? What is there to do in any British town, city or rural location but visit the pub? As anyone will tell you, they provide the perfect night out or afternoon diversion, with a variety of drinks, food and even in many of them, entertainment in the form of music or comedy - sometimes both in combination. What better activity is there than to drop in on one of these great institutions for a beverage and a spot of good conversation?

After watching this succession of the most dingy-looking locations that you ever did see, you may be considering an evening at home is far preferable, but this was one of producer and often director Arnold L. Miller's documentaries, as opposed to his more accustomed sexploitation efforts, being a pioneer of getting British cinema to accept nudity and later, sexual situations in a mainstream picture palace. Rather than a specialised cinema club, that was, where they were licensed to show, well, pornography basically, though Miller would find his attempts to place his output in more respectable surroundings were often thwarted by the censor, who were not impressed.

Little wonder that he turned to his documentaries, which in theory would have a wider audience reach, though Miller's idea of a doc was his mondo movies London in the Raw and Primitive London, versions of the Italian-bred phenomenon where the bizarre, sensational and lurid were the big draws for the punters. Under the Table You Must Go, its title taken from the lyrics to popular pub ditty Knees Up Mother Brown, was comparatively mild when standing alongside most of this producer's work, but his endeavours to be crowdpleasing remained in evidence throughout, even if his sleazy side was exhibiting itself in the more acceptable Can-Can dancers and belly dancers.

Otherwise, it was a bid to appeal to Britain's working classes that distinguished this little item, most obviously in Miller's choice of interviewees, never mind the selection of taverns that were recorded for posterity. Sportsmen such as boxers Billy Walker and Len Harvey, cricketer Denis Compton and footballer (and latterly playground bullshit signifier) Jimmy Hill were given space to wax lyrical in the style of filler material on World of Sport, while comic actors Fred Emney (demanding "steak and kidney pud" in a swanky new Italian restaurant) and Jon Pertwee (joining the band in a German bierkeller to don a spiked First World War helmet, down massive amounts of lager and stick two fingers up at the audience in a very non-Doctor Who fashion) provided something resembling the comedy.

As expected, the entertainment at the public houses was largely of the music hall variety, or at least the sort you would see in a working men's club, which many of these establishments basically were, so an unnamed female singer leads war veterans in Irish folk songs (well, It's a Long Way to Tipperary, anyway) and Tommy Trinder serves up a rendition of Champagne Charlie. There was a nod to changing times as younger celebrities were recruited, mostly disc jockeys like Stuart Henry (stealing kisses from the girls he interviews between playing the platters that matter) or Pete Murray (chatting up the Bunny Girls at The Playboy Club in a half-hearted attempt at getting to know them better), though Jonathan King's presence may bring a mixed reaction in this century. The chats with pubgoers revealed few electrifying anecdotes, it had to be said, some like jazz (Benny Green to the fore), other liked records but appreciated a live band, be that country or pop, though you could admit Miller had captured something of the ambience of these places. But my, were they dingy.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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