Strippers, beatniks, bikers and mods: celebrating BFI Flipside

I have a small piece in the Independent celebrating BFI Flipside, the BFI’s DVD label for forgotten, weird British films from the 1960s and 1970s.

The key Flipside films for any self-respecting London nerd are ‘London In The Raw’ and ‘Primitive London’, two endlessly fascinating exploitation documentaries that ‘lay bare’ the London of the mid-60s, with much emphasis on the weird and the shocking.

These are dayglo Soho-obsessed precursors to the rightly cherished London classic ‘The London Nobody Knows’, but possibly more entertaining for their utter shamelessness: here you’ll find strippers, wife-swapping, prostitution, Jack The Ripper re-enactments – anything that may titillate and tantalise.

It’s pretty tame stuff now of course, which is partly what makes it so intriguing. This is a key point of London history – as the hairy freaks massed their forces in preparation for the myriad cultural explosions of the late-60s – and these films capture some of that sense of a city teetering on the brink of… something. Check them out, you won’t be disappointed.

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One response to “Strippers, beatniks, bikers and mods: celebrating BFI Flipside

  1. London in the Raw: “Be shocked by the evil that lurks in its shadow!” followed by a clip of a chap being fitted for a hunting jacket. Bizarre indeed. And they are very brightly lit, these scenes of genteel depravity, aren’t they?

    Very good to see The Bed Sitting Room on DVD. I have two stills from the film taken by my father on location: Spike Milligan looking eerily noble and Michael Hordern in a characteristically stoic attitude. Strange it has been so overlooked, it looks pretty good these days.

    Love the blog, all best David.

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