LONDON IN MOVIES
TOP-TEN FILMS FROM THE SWINGING 60S
By the mid-60s, Britain was undergoing a cultural revolution – symbolised by its pop and fashion exports, like Beatlemania and the miniskirt; the iconic status of popular shopping areas, the King’s Road, Kensington and Carnaby Street; the political activism of anti-nuclear campaigns; and sexual liberation.
All eyes were on London – the swinging capital of the world – where radical changes to social and sexual politics were fanned by a modern youth. Here are some of the best movies from the 60s that symbolise swinging sixies London:
A HARD’S DAY NIGHT – A movie about the Beatles
Starring The Beatles – 1964
Directed by Richard Lester
The film set in the swinging sixities is credited as being one of the most influential musical films of all time. The film premiered at the Pavilion Theatre in London on 6 July 1964—the eve of Ringo Starr’s 24th birthday—and the soundtrack was released four days later.
THE KNACK AND HOW TO GET IT
Starring Rita Tushingham, Ray Brooks, Michael Crawford, Donal Donnelly- 1965
Directed by Richard Lester
Cine-London strikes again with this British sixties film depicting the sexual competition among three roommates — the aggressive, womanizing drummer Tolen (Ray Brooks), the shy, paranoid schoolteacher Colin (Michael Crawford), and the artist Tom (Donal Donnelly) — when a young woman from out of town, Nancy (Rita Tushingham), enters their London world.
Starring Julie Christie, Laurence Harvey, Dirk Bogarde- 1965
Directed by John Schlesinger
This movie set in the British 60s, which awarded Julie Christie the Best Actress Oscar for it in 1965, sees Diana Scott’s journey from London housewife, to mistress, to famous actress, to a European princess. Although Diana Scott manages to experience everything an attractive woman of that time would wish, she is never grateful and she is never happy.
THE PLEASURE GIRLS
Starring Klaus Kinski, Francesca Annis, Ian McShane – 1965
Directed by Gerry Hoara
This 60s film narrates the story, over one weekend, of some young men and women and their problems and issues, centering on sex and relationships and it starts whe Sally (Francesca Annis), moves to London to pursue a modelling career; together with her flatmates, Angela (Anneke Wills) and Dee (Suzanna Leigh) she discovers the world of the carefree bachelor girl in Swinging London of the 1960s.
Starring Lynn Redgrave, James Mason, Alan Bates, Charlotte Rampling – 1966
Directed by Silvio Narizzano
The plot follows the story of a virginal woman in 1960s London who is faced with a dilemma when pursued by both her father’s older employer and the young lover of her promiscuous and pregnant flatmate. The cast is amazing, and the sixties London scenery fascinating.
Starring David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles -1966
Directed by Michelangelo Antonini
Thomas, Fashion photographer of swinging sixties London played by David Hemmings, believes he has unwittingly captured a murder on film.
Locations used include The Economist Building in St. James’s Street, London, Consort Road, Peckham, Maryon Park, Charlton, south-east London, not much changed since the film. Stockwell Road, Regent Street, Heddon Street , 77 Pottery Lane, W11, and 39 Princes Place, W11.
Photographer Jon Cowan leased his studio at 39 Princes Place to Antonioni for much of the interior and exterior filming, and Cowan’s own photographic murals are featured in the film. The exterior for the party scene towards the end of the film was shot outside 100 Cheyne Walk, in Chelsea.
Starring Michael Caine, Shelley Winters, Millicent Martin, Vivien Merchant, Jane Asher, Julia Foster – 1966
Directed by Lewis Gilbert
Alfie is considered one of the best movies from the 60s and tells the story of a young womanising cheeky chappy who leads a self-centred life, purely for his own enjoyment, until events force him to question his uncaring behaviour, his loneliness and his priorities.
Starring Rita Tushingham, Lynn Redgrave, Michael York – 1966
Directed by Desmond Davis
Swinging sixties Britain is well portrayed in Smashing Time, which targets its tale of two Northen lasses coming down to find their fortune in London and finding only hollow false facades.
Starring Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Eleanor Bron, Raquel Welch -1967
Directed by Stanley Donen
Bedazzled, a wonderful example of British comedy at its best, is a hilarious retelling of the story of Faust set in Swinging London. The Devil (Peter Cook) offers an unhappy young man (Moore) seven wishes in return for his soul, but twists the spirit of the wishes to frustrate the man’s hopes.
Starring Geneviève Waïte – 1968
Directed by Michael Sarne
Last but not least, among the best movies of the 60s is “Joanna”, an art student in London, has a romantic fling with her teacher, aspiring painter Hendrik Casson. She eventually leaves him for impoverished Dominic, while her gold-digging friend Beryl takes up with the quite wealthy Lord Sanderson.
Featured Image Copyright: Wystan