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  Pleasure Girls, The A Slice Of The Swinging SixtiesBuy this film here.
Year: 1965
Director: Gerry O'Hara
Stars: Francesca Annis, Ian McShane, Anneke Wills, Tony Tanner, Rosemary Nicols, Klaus Kinski, Carol Cleveland, Suzanna Leigh, Colleen Fitzpatrick, Mark Eden, Jonathan Hansen, Tony Doonan, Julian Holloway, Hugh Futcher, Yvonne Antrobus, David Graham
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Sally (Francesca Annis) had moved from the countryside home she shared with her family to the big city, and on arriving in London she heads straight for the flat where her friend Angie (Anneke Wills) lives because she has been offered a room there. Once she reaches it, Angie throws down the key and Sally takes her cases inside, where one of the residents of the building, cheerful Paddy (Tony Tanner), helps her carry them upstairs. Everyone is very friendly, and she will be sharing the place with a bunch of other girls, all of whom have their ups and downs, though some are more down than others...

With a title like that, if The Pleasure Girls had happened along even five years later you might have expected wall-to-wall nudity, but this was halfway through the Swinging Sixties so the most you could have hoped for in that respect was strictly in the Continental version, so if you were watching this in Britain, hard luck. It was one of a few films from the era that set out to prove that all these advances in society, with sexual liberation and whatnot, were not all they were cracked up to be, although in this case the script by writer and director Gerry O'Hara didn't take too hard a line on the characters and actually most of them escaped with their dignity intact.

So nothing all that bad happens to Sally, although her new acquaintances do go through the mill somewhat as they have man trouble. For her, she quickly gets herself a boyfriend, Keith, played by a young and virile Ian McShane, who wants to bed her but is frustrated by the fact that she wishes to wait a while before she goes that far. After all, she has only met him at a party - there are a lot of parties in this - a few days before and doesn't see any point in rushing things, in spite of Keith claiming that for him, sex is an addiction and he needs to be satisfied. Sally, nice girl that she is, isn't convinced and so avoids the fate of Marion (Rosemary Nicols).

Marion has become pregnant thanks to her no good boyfriend Prinny (Mark Eden), who is such a cad that he persuades her to part with a beloved family heirloom so that he can sell it for cash to fund the abortion. He promptly goes out and sells it to crooked landlord Stalmar (Klaus Kinski playing it sophisticated) and then gambles all the proceeds away, with Marion only discovering this when Stalmar offers the brooch to his girlfriend Ella (Carol Cleveland) and she recognises where it has come from. There are a number of narrative threads running through this, all presented in the same, hey, this is how people are living now fashion, yet for some reason it never works up a mood of grit or a documentary-like realism.

There's nothing wrong with the performances, and fans of vintage television will be interested to spot a few famous faces, with Wills a year away from her time on Doctor Who, Cleveland soon to be the female member of Monty Python, Eden two decades before he was a Coronation Street baddie, and of course McShane not yet world renowned as Lovejoy, never mind swearing his head off in Deadwood later on. Kinski was a law unto himself, but he does strike a note of dangerous though refined sleaze that is notably missing from the rest of the film, which doesn't seem to be able to make up its mind whether it's a modern film so it should accept how the times are a-changin', or serve as a warning to impressionable young ladies setting out in life unaware of the perils that await them. To O'Hara's credit, he doesn't end up punishing any of his female characters and they pretty much all emerge stronger for their experiences, though you'd be hard pressed to find many nowadays who took this to be as daring as it was intended. Music by Malcolm Lockyer.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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