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  Groupie Girl She's With The Band
Year: 1970
Director: Derek Ford
Stars: Esme Johns, Billy Boyle, Richard Shaw, Donald Sumpter, James Beck, Paul Bacon, Neil Hallett, Maureen Flanagan, Eliza Terry, Belinda Caren, Lynton Guest, Paul Woloff, Paul Pryde, Jimmie Edwardes, Bill Jarvis, Madeleine Collinson, Mary Collinson
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Sally (Esme Johns) is sick and tired of her humdrum life in an English town in the middle of nowhere, so she decides the best way for her to leave all this behind her is to join a band. But she is not going to join as a singer or musician, she is going to join as a groupie. After settling on one band playing near her home, called Opal Butterfly, she stows away in the back of their van and keeps quiet as they drive off. Before long they are arguing about where they should be going as they are lost, when Sally suddenly pops up and tells them she knows the area and can tell them where to go. But the band are thinking about telling her where to go...

A drama with fashionable trimmings, whether they be music, drugs or sex, from the notably era-specific team of producer Stanley A. Long and director Derek Ford (who also co-wrote the script with Suzanne Mercer), Groupie Girl took an unforgiving look not only at rock bands on the road, but their hangers-on as well. In her sole film credit (whatever happened to her?) Johns is pushed around and treated poorly by just about everyone she meets, and even the nice guy who turns up near the end winds up the film by letting her down and leaving Sally little better than when she started.

There are two types of pop music film: the one where it's all a big laugh and everyone romps through the story with a please buy the soundtrack album kind of levity, and then there's this type, cynical fare where the music business is utterly soul destroying and the rewards are few. With Sally as a no-talent nobody who is only present in the band's lives because she essentially forced her way in, her prospects don't look good and the plot wastes no time in punishing her for her youthful hubris. Alternatively, it could be acting as an awful warning to young girls wishing to hang out with bands.

Of course, as expected from the Long and Ford stable, Sally is used for sex, and the mood of the film is summed up by an early scene where the lead singer Steve (Donald Sumpter) expects her to do his lustful bidding in the back of the van. When Sally protests that she's never done it there before, Steve shrugs and tells her "You get used to it". Some seduction technique - romantic this is not. With the songs consisting of sub-Faces non-hits, and the concert footage thin on the ground, the viewer has to get used to some pretty dingy sequences of Sally's depressing and sad to say willing degradation, including a posh party in a manor house which ends up as an orgy for that steely-eyed reluctance to shy away from the angle redolent of British exploitation flicks.

Needless to say, the film spends about two seconds on the orgy bit and ten minutes on the lead up to it, but there's an odd myth around this part that claims that none other than British comic actor Jimmy Edwards appears here. There is a character with a bushy moustache, certainly, but it's not him, even under the different spelling in the credits. Two celebs who are in it are Madeleine Collinson and Mary Collinson, the pin-up twins who for some reason are not credited at all, and there's an appearance by Dad's Army performer James Beck as the band's manager, but that's about as starry as Groupie Girl's cast list gets. Better to concentrate on the general, soul-sucking air of misery, which features an abrupt death scene at one point as if the filmmakers got sick of one batch of characters and wanted to replace them. Not a barrel of laughs, then, but pretty sobering for what could have been a throwaway item and steeped in the heady atmosphere of its time.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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