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  Cool It Carol! Bright Lights Big City
Year: 1970
Director: Pete Walker
Stars: Robin Askwith, Janet Lynn, Jess Conrad, Derek Aylward, Kenneth Hendel, Stephen Bradley, Harry Baird, Peter Elliott, Claire Gordon, Richard Aylen, Syd Conabere, Stubby Kaye, Pete Murray, Eric Barker
Genre: Comedy, Drama, SexBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Joe (Robin Askwith) works as a butcher's assistant in his home village, yet dreams of better things. Dreams of more money, certainly, and after his co-worker chops off his middle finger accidentally while cutting meat, it's the trigger for Joe to make plans to head for London and the bright lights. When he tells his girlfriend Carol (Janet Lynn) about this, she is excited by the idea, unaware that he has made up the story about having a lucrative car showroom job, and they take the next day's train up to the city, with their parents' blessing. But they are unprepared for how difficult it will be...

Cool It Carol! was one of the earlier Pete Walker films from the period where he was creating sexploitation films rather than the grim horror pictures he is better known for today. It begins as a comedy, and while not especially hilarious - Carol's father asking her whether her "maidenhead is intact", receiving the answer no and then deciding that's good enough for her to go off to London is about the level of humour - it's fairly agreeable all the same. However, Walker soon settles into his familiar ways once the kids reach the Big Smoke and realise they are quickly running out of cash.

Askwith and Lynn make an appealing couple, this being their first starring roles and for the pretty Lynn, her only starring role as she slipped into obscurity soon after, leading more than one viewer of this to wonder whatever happened to her. He is more convincing than she is, but the script calls for naivety and that's precisely the quality they convey, so when their downfall comes it's surprisingly touching, as there's no feeling of gloating that these two have got in over their heads even if their descent into the prostitution of Carol seems somewhat inevitable.

From a 2000s perpsective, there is some amusement in the fact that Carol's full name is Carol Thatcher, but she is definitely not to be mixed up with the daughter of a British ex-Prime Minister. This Carol is a beauty queen who thinks her award means she is a natural for modelling work, but as she trails around the agencies she is told she is too short for fashion work and ends up having dodgy photos taken for so-called "gentlemen's magazines". Soon the money has run out and with Joe failing to get a job they both are relying on Carol getting any payment she can.

This means the sordid world of prostitution, and it's genuinely a shame when this occurs, with Walker managing a level of emotion he would not reach too often. Our unfortunate pair even have to make a pornographic short together, thereby implicating Joe in the sex industry as well, but after a while it's as if the filmmakers couldn't go on with their degradation and they do start making quite a bit of income from their exploits before realising how hollow their lives have become. Walker reputedly got the idea for this from a newspaper story, hence the "based on a true story" line in the opening credits, and until things start looking up the film does have a sense of authenticity to it. Yes, Lynn is requested to regularly take her clothes off for Walker's camera, so you could accuse him of hypocrisy, but it's an absorbing tale nonetheless. Music by Cyril Ornadel.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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