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  All Neat in Black Stockings They Call Him The Wanderer
Year: 1969
Director: Christopher Morahan
Stars: Victor Henry, Susan George, Jack Shepherd, Clare Kelly, Anna Cropper, Harry Towb, Vanessa Forsyth, Terence de Marney, Jasmina Hilton, John Woodnutt, Nita Lorraine, Deirdre Costello, Andre Dakar, Rosalind Elliot, Gwendolyn Watts, Malcolm Tierney
Genre: Comedy, Drama, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Ginger (Victor Henry) is a window cleaner in London who fancies himself as something of a ladies' man, and takes every opportunity to chat up and ask out as many young women as he can. Take today when he is washing the windows at a hospital and catches sight of an attractive nurse, Babette (Jasmina Hilton), who after initial frostiness at his attempts to capture her attention, beams at him, prompting Ginger to clamber around the outside of the building following her. He eventually sees her through a window of one of the wards and lets himself in, meeting an old drinking buddy, Gunge (Terence de Marney) on the way; the old man asks him to look after his pets just as Ginger is thrown out...

If a plot detailing the adventures of an amorous window cleaner sounds familiar, it might have been from this movie but it's more likely to be reminiscent of the Robin Askwith-starring Confessions of a Window Cleaner which may or may not have been influenced by this little item. Probably not, or not too much at any rate, for All Neat in Black Stockings owed more to the kitchen sink strain of British drama rather than being a bawdy comedy, the sort of thing that audiences of the day would have been watching on their cinema screens for the best part of a decade by now, if not longer. In fact, they would be just as probably watching it on their televisions where social problems made for topical viewing.

This was more Play for Today than Coronation Street, though it wasn't a million miles away from either what with the protagonist's Northern accent (oddly, the distinctive-looking character actress Anna Cropper, recognisable for many a TV appearance, sported a South Eastern accent as his sister with no explanation whatsoever). That lead was played by forgotten actor Victor Henry, who if he's recalled at all is down to the tragic nature of his death, a terribly lingering one after being landed in a years-long coma on account of being in a road accident as a pedestrian. He never woke up, and a promising career of at least a well-known character actor - he didn't quite suit leading man material - was cut down in its prime, so here was his most visible role, one of his first breaks from supporting parts.

Henry acquitted himself well considering the man he was playing was not particularly admirable in his behaviour, yet he was not a loveable rogue as the question of how much we were supposed to like him, or appreciate his company at any rate, was uncertain at best - pretending to wet the bed to get rid of a one night stand is one of his unpleasant tricks. Not only was Ginger a womaniser, but even when he falls in love it doesn't quite redeem him, though some of that was due to the company he was keeping. He frequently exchanges partners with best pal Dwyer (Jack Shepherd, whose starring part as TV 'tec Wycliffe was some time in the future), including Babette which is somewhat baffling as you would have thought she was quite a catch, exotic accent and so on. But by this point Ginger has noticed Jill, and Jill was played by Susan George.

Therefore a lot of men of the day would be thinking what Ginger was thinking, she's worth giving up the bachelor lifestyle for, her following burgeoning as the sixties turned into the seventies. However, the script was not not going to give any of the characters an easy time of it, and once our anti-hero has opted to be a one woman man he makes moves to improve himself, helping out his sister who is pregnant again by her reprobate husband (Harry Towb dubbed with an English accent), and agreeing to look after Gunge's menagerie at his sprawling town house as well as pledging his allegiance to Jill. Yet the film remained sceptical about leopards changing their spots, though it was a personal tragedy which sends Ginger back to his old habits. This was adapted by Jane Gaskell from her novel, supposedly the first to use the insult "plonker", Only Fools and Horses fans, and part of the tradition of late sixties gritty drama like Up the Junction or Poor Cow, so the intentional laughs were thin on the ground, leaving a colourful yet unresolved dollop of dejection. Music by Robert Cornford.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Christopher Morahan  (1929 - 2017)

British director who has largely worked in TV over a 30 year career, including the 1965 version of Orwell's 1984 and The Jewel In the Crown. On the big screen directed the likes of Diamonds for Breakfast, All Neat in Black Stockings, the John Cleese farce Clockwise, and Paper Mask.

 
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