Sunday, 31 October 2010

Bronco Bullfrog

Set and filmed in the ever-changing East End landscape against a backdrop of London bombsites and urban high-rise tower blocks Bronco Bullfrog (1969) is further evidence that not all young people at that time where involved in the hippie movement or part of so called swinging London. Barney Platt-Mills debut feature rose out of a project run by Joan Littlewood at the Theatre Royal Stratford and stars a non-professional cast of teenagers from the local area and takes the form of a semi-improvised love story. It involves 17 year-old apprentice welder Del Quant (Pete Townsend look a like, Del Walker) and the 15 year-old Irene Richardson (Anne Gooding) who make their mind up to run away when their parents disapprove of their relationship. They decide to hole-up with Joe Saville aka Bronco Bullfrog (Sam Shepard) a petty thief on the run after absconding from borstal.

Dell, Irene and Joe
 The feel and look of the film is reminiscent of the Free Cinema Movement that spanned a period between 1956 and 1959 involving a group of young filmmakers that launched a new attitude to film making in the United Kingdom. A good percentage of the films made under this banner were documentaries, different from the mainstream documentaries of the time because they dealt head on with such subject matter as presenting a sympathetic interest in people and their working class communities. It seemed that only Ken Loach with Kes and Platt-Mills low budget black and white film where looking at the dead-end lives of Britain’s teenagers at this the tale end of the sixties.

Quick cuppa lads?
 Thanks to the BFI’s digital restoration we all have a chance to reassess this direct and honest timepiece that’s been buried far to long, described on its re-release as something approaching real life at the sharp end. Source it and revel in this grand example of realist cinema.

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