Thursday, 3 November 2011

Deep End (1970)

Occasionally I question why a particular film is described as a “classic”, Jerzy Skolimowski’s 1970 US-West German co-production Deep End is one such example. But don’t get me wrong this so called lost film deserved its restoration and recent cinema re-release along with a DVD release in July as part of the British Film Institutes worthwhile BFI Flipside series if for no other reason than to give us all a chance to sample this cinematic curio, one that gained critical triumph on its initial release but not box office success.

Mainly shot in Munich, although the London Street scenes were actually shot in Soho, and the exterior of Baths shot in Leytonstone East London, it was set at the tail end of the swinging London scene. John Moulder Brown plays Mike a 15 year-old who has just left school and started work in a Public Bathhouse, something that most towns had due to lack of bathing facilities in peoples homes at that time, this one also incorporated a swimming pool. Responsibility for his training falls to the sexually active Susan who is a wee bit older than our school lever. Adolescent desire kicks in and Mike falls in lust with Susan and who can blame him, but she also has a fiancé Chris (Christopher Sanford) and a lover the lecherous married swimming instructor played by the German actor Karl Michael Vogler. I must not forget to mention the voluptuous Diana Dors who in a wee cameo try’s to seduce the young boy after taking her bath, one of the truly humorous scenes in the film.

Jane Asher
The much coveted Susan is played by one of the key figures of the sixties Jane Asher who was nominated, justifiably, for a Bafta for Best Supporting Actress for her role. She had already appeared opposite Michael Caine in a seminal sixties film Alfie (1966) and had been engaged to the Beatle Paul McCartney. I’m quite aware that the Polish director allowed his actors to improvise, but I’m afraid that Moulder Brown’s acting skills leaves a little bit to be desired. Initially masquerading as a light-hearted sexual sixties romp, the longer the film goes on the darker and more disturbing it gets.  As I have said maybe not a classic but well worth a look.

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