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  She'll Be Wearing Pink Pyjamas The Great Outdoors
Year: 1985
Director: John Goldschmidt
Stars: Julie Walters, Anthony Higgins, Jane Evers, Janet Henfrey, Paula Jacobs, Penelope Nice, Maureen O'Brien, Alyson Spiro, Jane Wood, Pauline Yates, Bill Lund, Nicky Puttnam, Paul Butterworth
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: There is an outward bound course staged by a place in Cumbria that usually caters to men, but this year, for the first time, they have decided to establish a women-only event and eight of them have signed up, wanting to prove something to themselves. The sense of achievement, even one validated by a certificate, is what has motivated them, but on the first day where they have to swim in the nearby lake is a bit too much for some of them, and they have to rather pathetically make their way through the water as best they can. Yet the fact remains they succeed, and this small step in the right direction should see them right for the rest of the course. Shouldn't it?

In the nineteen-eighties, the British film industry found the money had more or less run out, and though that had been happening since the seventies it was still in a dire situation for the future of moviemaking in Britain if nobody was able to make films that the public would be interested in seeing. To the rescue stepped in the new fourth channel of the nation's television broadcasters, set up to provide a public service and quickly gaining a reputation for its left wing interests and exponents, unusual for the time when a right wing government was in power and they had helped set the station up. This led to a lot of tension between what those who ran it supposedly impartially thought they should be broadcasting and what the powers that be had in mind.

The right wing press had a field day with criticising Channel 4 as everything they thought the public should be ranting against as the BBC looked on thinking "been there, done that" (as they would in the future), but it was true at the time they were putting money into projects that provided much-needed jobs in the creative industries, and part of that was their Film Four division which would offer chances for feature films to be produced, many even securing big screen releases before their inevitable showings on the small screen. Although it contained no minorities, She'll Be Wearing Pink Pyjamas was lumped in with the sort of work the brand was making that came in for criticism simply because it placed women's issues in the foreground.

Now, you might think that's good, a British film that passed the Bechdel Test, that half-jokey, half-valid set of rules concocted in a comic strip by artist Alison Bechdel in the same year this film was made. These stated that to pass, the movie must have two named female characters, and you had plenty of those here, who had at least one conversation with each other about something other than a man, and you had... erm, a bunch of women who seemed to talk about nothing but men for the full ninety minutes. Okay, there were occasional exceptions since the matter of getting the outward bound course finished was important to their self-esteem as well, but the more they chatted the more the subject of the males in their life emerged.

Or indeed the lack of them, they didn't half complain that their needs were not being satisfied and it was all the men's fault. So not quite as progressive as you might have hoped, though screenwriter Eva Hardy purportedly drew from her own experiences of one of these activity excursions to craft her script, so it could be she was simply being as true to life as she could divine it from that week she spent indulging in heavy exercise. Julie Walters was the most famous actress here, and at her most brash, a persona that would alternate with feeling sorry for herself because of the aforementioned men, though we are set up to believe she will have a chance with the course leaders' resident Lothario (Anthony Higgins) which doesn't work out quite as you would anticipate. The casual nudity garnered some interest and surely got some VHS recorders working when Channel 4 broadcast it, but mostly this was a character piece with some nice scenery, not as perceptive as you would have preferred though the cast carried it even if they wound up in the same place mentally. Music by John Du Prez.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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