Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Up The Junction 1968.

Due to his work on TV commercials Peter Collinson’s feature films seemed a little ostentatious. His best-known film was probably The Italian Job (1969) the British caper film in which Michael Caine uttered the now famous line “You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” The year before in 1968 he directed a remake of Ken Loach’s 1965 ground breaking Wednesday play Up The Junction which unlike Poor Cow (1965) Loach did not adapt into a feature film himself.   

Although both versions were based on Nell Dunns 1963 novel of the same name Loach’s TV version focuses on one girl in particular, Rube, whose feller gets her in the family way and she decides to get rid of the child by a botched illegal back street abortion, the father of the unwanted child is then involved in a lethal motorcycle accident. The Wednesday Play was realism at its best and seen as a serious statement about abortions causing a lot of controversy at the time and like Dunns book provided a view of life previously unknown to certain sections of British society. Collinson’s film fitted more into the 60’s Swinging London genre; it still included Rube (Adrienne Posta) and her abortion but downgraded its importance to the narrative. It now centred around Polly (Suzy Kendall) a rich Chelsea girl that for some reason that’s never really explained, leaves her privileged background, moves to the industrial slums of Battersea near Clapham Junction and gets employment in a factory that makes confectionary. She befriends Collinson’s stereotype salt of the earth working class, minds in the gutter factory girls! Of course there’s a lad involved, Pete, a petty criminal with ideas above his station played by Minder to be Dennis Waterman.

Maureen Lipman, Suzy Kendall and Adrienne Poster.

This is not a serious attempt to make a feature film adaptation of Nell Dunns novel; it has a ‘trading places’ scenario, rich girl slumming, working class boy hobnobbing. I’m afraid this fairy tale fantasy of working class life would have been better produced as a musical. Ken Loach’s TV original has been released on a DVD as part of the At The BBC box set, well worth a look. 

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