Disaffected Youth in Black and White

by karolinawaclawiak

When you think 1960’s British working class films you naturally call upon The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. Based on Alan Sillitoe’s short story, it was the film about troubled youth in Britain.

But I can’t help thinking about a more peculiar one, also based on a book. I’m talking about The Leather Boys with its raucous teenage bikers, bopping music, foul mouths, and gay unrequited love. Yes, Sidney J. Furie went there and I was thrilled to be watching it. Unfortunately, Gillian Freeman had to tone down her film adaptation from the book she published under the pseudonym Eliot George in 1961, but it certainly broke Hollywood decency codes when screened stateside in 1964.

It was your standard love affair, at first. British film darling Rita Tushingham plays Dot, a preening 15-year-old loudmouth, who is dying to marry her Triumph-riding Reggie. They do get hitched. Beans for dinner. Laundry unwashed. Well, and some romps. Marriage isn’t all bad. But halfway through I started asking myself, was Dot going to be left behind by her husband, Reggie, for another man? Well, maybe.

Pete. Pete. Pete.

The first meeting between doe-eyed Pete and Reggie.

Image courtesy of Roadrunner Magazine.

Oh, Pete. Bright blond curls, leather pants, and a soft, shy face. He’s fun-loving Pete. He’s sensitive Pete. He understands Reggie in ways that Dot cannot.

And one can’t help but wish, for a moment, that Dot were out of the picture. Motorcycle accident? I may sound brutal, but after watching, you’ll understand. Trust me.

8 Responses to “Disaffected Youth in Black and White”

  1. Freaky. I just watched this two days ago. Found it at the library. Had never heard of it. I thought it was going to be a mod motorcycle romp, but it turned out to be much better than that. British social realism and homoerotic tension with no hysteria tied to it. The actors were very engaging (Rita Tushingham scares me a little) and the photography was excellent. Very well-made movie.

  2. Man, everyone but me notices homoerotic stuff in films. Most of that flies right over my head.

  3. It’s funny, the way I heard of it was because it was in The Smiths’ video for Girlfriend in a Coma. It’s one of Morrissey’s favorite movies so I HAD to see it. It was really impossible to get in the US for a while, only available in Region 2 (Britian), but I finally used an Ebay contact to get it for me.
    Russell, Rita Tushingham is positively frightening in the film.

  4. It’s her hair. Or her crazy eyes. Or mouth. I don’t know, but I would gulp if she game into a room where I was standing alone. I thought about buying this after watching it (I have some Amazon credit — and a serious film ownership sickness), but it looks like it’s no longer available on DVD, at least the Kino version (I see a newer release with an ugly box — no thanks). The less-crazy Tushingham’s “A Taste of Honey” has only ever come out in Region 2 format (as far as I know). That feels even more irritating when I’m poking through the garbage at my local Hastings store. Still can’t buy “Love With the Proper Stranger” or “A Hatful of Rain”, two old favorites. What a world!

  5. It’s her voice. Her voice is like a thousand screaming babies.
    I was going to suggest you go to http://scootermoviesshop.com where he can get you any movie you’ve ever dreamed of but it seems the website has been taken down, probably for copyright infringement.
    You can try emailing him directly: scooter@scootermoviesshop.com
    He has access to every movie ever made.

  6. You’re right. Her voice was painful. Thanks for the scooter-tip.

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