God Bless the BFI

Fancy watching Oliver Reed discovering that the drugs don't work? Or perhaps you'd rather a retrospective on the sitcoms of Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais? Whatever your cultish viewing proclivities, then a trip to the BFI is in order.
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Fancy watching Oliver Reed discovering that the drugs don't work? Or perhaps you'd rather a retrospective on the sitcoms of Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais? Whatever your cultish viewing proclivities, then a trip to the BFI is in order.

What's not to like about the British Film Institute? A place that dedicates seasons to everything from Claude Chabrol to the sitcoms of Clement and La Frenais, it might look like a cement factory but the National Theatre's South Bank neighbour does a terrific job of celebrating film without succumbing to snobbery.

For evidence of the BFI's dedication to popular film, look no further than its Flipside strand of DVD releases. Oliver Reed discovering that the drugs don't work in The Party's Over, Paul Jones looking positively angelic in Peter Watkins' Privilege, Italian exploitation queen Margaret Rose Keil vamping it up in That Kind Of Girl (aka Teenage Tramp) - the nutritional value of these '60s British films is nil. But if you like movies where people sport cravats and say things like "If you want to fight, join the army - it's for squares", you're in for a gear evening.

Yes, you can forget Blow Up, this is simultaneously the zenith and the nadir of Swingin' London cinema.

As for the standout Flipside release, look no further than 1968's Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush. Directed by the (recently) late, great Clive Donner and adapted by Hunter Davies from his own novel, the picture is such a product of its time and place, you could mistake it for an Austin Powers send-up.

Starring Barry Evans in a truly formidable range of shirts, Mulberry Bush features a supporting turn from star du jour Nicky Henson (The Jokers, Witchfinder General, There's A Girl In My Soup and Psychomania provide a pretty good summary of late '60s-early '70s British film) and a special guest appearance by the Spencer Davis Group. And if those cult credentials don't bowl you over, look out for performances from future television favourites Christopher Timothy, Diane Keen and George Layton. Yes, you can forget Blow Up, this is simultaneously the zenith and the nadir of Swingin' London cinema.

Oh, and if you're new to this sort of thing, the following Harry Enfield offering should provide a perfect introduction.

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