Here we go! A Place To Go. A random quirky British film that brought a massive smile to my face. I had a sneaky feeling I was gonna like this even having absolutely no idea what I was about to watch.
Tagline – The punch-up romance of the year…..
It features so many unexpected weird and offbeat scenes. However it’s held together by a familiar and traditional narrative of the working class Flint family trying to get through life. Is it a romance or is it a thriller? Maybe a kitchen sink drama? It’s slightly comic in nature but also dares to be rough, tough, angry and punchy. There’s a sing-song or two, a robbery, a bit of greyhound racing and an almighty wild west style bar room brawl. And best of all it’s all wrapped up in a historical document of early 60s London.
The Flint family consist of Dad Matt Flint (Bernard Lee) and Mom Lil (Doris Hare). Dad loves a drink, Mom looks after the house. He thinks he’s the head of the house but we all know it’s Mom who’s boss. Then there’s oldest son Ricky (Michael Sarne) and his pregnant sister Betsy (Barbara Ferris) and her fella Jim (David Andrews). All squeezed together in a two up and two down terrace house in Bethnal Green.
Ricky halfheartedly works at a cigarette factory. A part from a quick little bit of slap and tickle with the tea girl, Ricky is bored. Tired of his families working class status. Desperate to bring some money into the household. An opportunity arises to join a gang planning to rob his factory warehouse. Local gangster Jack (John Slater) and his foot soldier Charlie (William Marlowe) need an inside man to sabotage the warehouse alarm system. A perfect plan to steal hundreds of boxes of cigarettes. Ricky joins the crew.
Within the gang is the tough spirited and supremely feisty, I’m gonna bite your lip off, Catherine (Rita Tushingham). Ricky is pulled into her unconventional eccentric manner and possibly her alluring words of “Do you want to make love to me Ricky?”
A Place To Go was such a wonderful watch. It’s the way it throws completely random scenes at you. Straight from the get go you’re thrown into the families drunken Christmas party. A giant cracker, a sing song and Dad playing with matches next to the decorations. What could possibly go wrong? Then there’s a high rise spitting old man, a bit of bottom slapping and one of my favourite scenes, Dad Flint challenging his rival to “fisticuffs” outside the pub. It’s a scene I wasn’t expecting and it’s very funny. I’ll leave you to discover that moment. But wait this is a gritty drama too. Punch ups, knifes, iron bars. It comes at you from all angles.
- A Place To Go is directed by the very talented Basil Dearden. I’ve adored his films since doing this blog. With Sapphire (1959) and Victim (1961) scoring perfect on the Wolfie meter. Another two to look out for are The Mind Benders (1963) and the superb The League of Gentlemen (1960).
- Based on a novel called Bethnal Green by Michael Fisher with screenplay duties going to Michael Relph who would also produce many of Basil Dearden’s films.
- There’s a few familiar faces that pop up. Look out for the foreman Roy Kinnear who likes something a little more with his cuppa tea. One of the washer women in the open plan wash house is Yootha Joyce and cockney market trader George Sewell sells a canary.
Like I said above, one of the brilliant things about this little gem is the time capsule aspect of the film. Decrepit old blitz bombed out buildings dotted around. (Perfect places for a bit of smooching.) Slum terrace houses, the once pride of families, now evicted and ready to be pulled down. The giant open plan wash houses filled with chatting and scrubbing ladies cleaning the families linen. There’s the long gone Clapton Stadium greyhound and whippet racetrack, waiting to be demolished in the 70s to make way for urban renewal. The film provides a wonderful snap shot of the end of the 50s era into the pre-60s of a borough of London.
A Place To Go rolls romance, punch ups, a heist and comedy all into one smashing good film. If you fancy it, you can stream it here at time of writing. Thanks for popping on by. Keep it filmy. Mikey Wolf.