Time for another clean-up
ONG ago, the first film
'article I was ever commissioned to write was on the so-called "purity campaign" inaugurated by the original American (and Catholic-based) Legion of Decency. Today I await the launching of a new purity campaign which seems so wildly overdue.
During its lifetime the Legion of Decency incurred increasing ridicule, but even if its methods were often shortsighted and heavy-handed, they did succeed in negotiating the Motion Picture Production Code, which laid down certain rules and set certain limits to what might be shown.
Our censor still exercises a very light control on what movies may be shown to the public; and through the "X" certificate at least a measure of protection for the undereighteens.
At present the menace seems rather to be the growing number of questionable movies being made for less than public showing, displays of vice and violence for showing to clubs and other restricted membership.
Movie-making or viewing is a group activity, and it is a contradiction in terms to talk of making films for private showing. Movies are made in company and seen in company. Some of those now being made suggest that the imminent prospect of some official restraint on cinema clubs is not too soon.
The National Film Theatre has lately shown Bloody Mama in its season of Roger Corman's (mainly horror) films, where it neither has nor needs a censor's certificate. This gruesome account of the horrific "Ma" Barker who ran her four sons as a gang to terrorise a Southern region in the thirties lives up to its title.
Despite its invocation of Oedipus, its uninhibited mixture of sadism, incest and ruthless brutality, makes the spurting blood of "Bonnie and Clyde" look like milk and water, though the pictures of the gang cruising round Arkansas in ancient Fords recalls a similar scene.
Either film might seem almost wholesome compared with Futz, which has not even been submitted to the British Board of Film Censors, but is being shown by the New Cinema Club as part of its Forbidden Film Festival.
The story may be derived in reverse from the old Appalachian folk-song about the lady who loved a swine, though it is described as an allegory about personal liberty. The movie is a spectacle of almost unmitigated bestiality despite the talents of New York's celebrated "La Mama Troype".
Compared with these underground films, the new Doctor in Trouble ("A", Paramount) carries on e nursery brand of vulgarity which seems almost innocuous. Leslie Philips is the doctor this time, very much at sea again as a stowaway trying to evade the discipline of the bearded captain (Robert Marley), the obnoxious company of Harry Secombe as a newrich pools winner, the matchmaking of Irene Handl, or the embarrassment of Simon Dee as a television personality just like Simon Dee.
The Betty Box-Ralph Thomas formula has faded into a rather lame and pale also-ran following in the steps of the "Carry On" series. It is funny in much the same way, but not as often or so fast. Leslie Phillips in a brief female impersonation makes such a splendid girl that its brevity is a pity.
Harry Secombe and Irene Handl also squander their great talents and style on footling parts, though I admired Morley's sea-captain.
suppose The Adding Machine ("A", Cameo-Poly) was the first embryonic concept of a computer. I can't pretend to remember the play very clearly, but the movie began by making me think it was poking topical satire at the new leisure-age.
The threat of the adding machine which loses the little clerk (Milo O'Shea) his job after 25 years is not developed with any particular point. Instead the little man, terrified of his nagging wife (Phyllis Diller) murders his boss and is himself taken off to a next world where he finds the solution to be reincarnation.
What seemed an opportunity to bring the science-fiction of my childhood up to date has hardly been taken. "The Adding Machine" remains an oldfashioned notion, with an oldfashioned concept of another life, fashionable in plays like Outward Bound. It retains an old-fashioned amiability that is very welcome.
The hero's nagging wife is grim enough but fortunately not in the same class of gorgon as Shelley Winters's Bloody Mama. That fine actress Billie Whitelaw is sadly wasted, but Milo O'Shea again shows himself a character star of charm and resource.