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  Twinky All About The Age Difference
Year: 1969
Director: Richard Donner
Stars: Charles Bronson, Susan George, Orson Bean, Honor Blackman, Michael Craig, Paul Ford, Jack Hawkins, Trevor Howard, Lionel Jeffries, Kay Medford, Robert Morley, Peggy Aitchison, Erik Chitty, Eric Barker, Sue Lloyd, Ann Way, Jimmy Tarbuck, Norman Vaughan
Genre: Comedy, Drama, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Sixteen-year-old Lola (Susan George), also known as Twinky to her boyfriend, is at the breakfast table with her family when her father (Michael Craig) asks her to stop reading at the table, and it turns out she has not been perusing the classics, but has a paperback novel "Banned in the UK" hidden between the pages of another book. Her father is outraged, especially when he takes a look at the content, but for him the worst is yet to come: the author is an American named Scott Wardman (Charles Bronson) and Lola actually knows him - for he is her boyfriend.

When the director of action epic Lethal Weapon and the star of vigilante revenge-fest Death Wish teamed up, Twinky might not be the kind of thing you would expect from such an alliance, but this swinging sixties would be Lolita was indeed the result. Whereas in Stanley Kubrick's layered Vladimir Nabokov adaptation Lolita there was a tragic and blackly comic element alike to the material, here that tone is eschewed for a silly, well nigh airheaded May to December romance with much in the way of wacky technique to interrupt and divert from what might have been a pretty seedy concept.

Actually, no "might have been" about it, and the sole aspect that stops you being turned off completely is the fact that muscular American icon Bronson and British saucepot George make such a weird couple. Try as he might, light comedy was not the man's forte, so while you could admire this attempt to broaden his range, almost every scene he is in seems strained, not least because he looks about twenty years older than the thirty-eight he is supposed to be here. George is little better, playing dippy with a teeth on edge determination that makes it impossible to believe that these two would ever get along: Scott in particular would have been driven up the wall.

There are obstacles to this unlikely romance, the first one being that Scott's visa is up and he will have to be deported back to America, but the way he gets around this is to take Lola all the way up to Glasgow - on her insistence - and marry her, because you can get married at sixteen without parental consent there. There's never any suggestion that Scott is using Lola, or even that she is using him, but naturally polite society is shocked, and that includes Lola's parents who nevertheless cannot do anything to change her mind about her choice of men. The contrivance, presumably intended to provoke "Well, why not?" questions in the audience's minds, was more likely to prompt the opposite reaction.

Another odd thing about Twinky is the guest stars director Richard Donner assembled, including one scene cameos from Robert Morley and Jack Hawkins as judges, and Trevor Howard in utterly irrelevant bits as Lola's grandfather (in one non-hilarious gag he is seen shooting a German tourist); even Jimmy Tarbuck and Norman Vaughan turn up, British club stand-up comedian fans. When the couple fly over to New York, it transpires that Scott's father is none other than Paul Ford from sitcom Sergeant Bilko, so if you begin to get bored, and this does start seriously dragging after a while, you can always play spot the famous faces. Eventually Bronson adherents can breathe a sigh of relief as Scott does lose patience with his new wife and starts snapping at her (though, no, he doesn't blow her away with a handgun): this is more like the Chuck we wanted to see. But it's too late, and the maudlin efforts of the film have little effect, listing this under "curio", but only essential for completists of the two cult stars. Music by John Scott, and twee songs by Jim Dale.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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