Young tearaways in Bristol (in 1962)
‘Some People’ is out on DVD on May 20th. It’s not been on telly that often, and is unlikely to feature in anyone’s top 100, or even top 1000, greatest movies of all time, but it’s an interesting little piece of social history. It’s also a real treat for Bristol history spods, and indeed older Bristolians who were around at the time.
Directed by Clive Donner and released in 1962 it was a cheap and cheerful teen drama (with a bit of music) which was actually intended as propaganda for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Scheme. A bunch of teens in Bristol are hanging out, getting up to no good and headed for a future of problems with the law until the Scheme channels their energies in more constructive directions.
This is British youth just on the eve of the Beatles, and moments before the Sixties begin to swing. But this isn’t about neets or deprived youth; quite the opposite. One of the intriguing things you need to get your head around is that it’s prosperity, and not unemployment, that’s being blamed for their delinquency. These kids have jobs, and at one point a magistrate opines that the problem with youth today is that they have it too good, and that easy credit in the form of hire-purchase (ask your grandmother) is making the kids irresponsible.
It’s got an interesting cast, too. The young Ray Brooks and David Hemmings are very nice to look at, as are Angela Douglas and Anneke Wills (later famous as one of Dr Who’s assistants). Kenneth More, a British film megastar at this time, also gets a look in (he apparently did it for a minimal fee as he thought it was a good cause, and didn’t have any other work on at the time). Mind you, most of them have trouble doing a convincing Bristol accent; More is excused from having to do it because he’s a manager, and therefore his character is posh (and probably not from Bristol). The one who gets the accent wrongest of all is Harry H. Corbett (later famous as Harold Steptoe from the TV comedy Steptoe & Son). That said, there are plenty of real Bristolians in small roles.
Bristol is also a star of the movie, and you can have all sorts of fun spotting the locations or getting the occasional handle on the life of the city at the time. So here’s the water tower on the Downs being a meet-up point for bikers, and here’s a nicely-done illegal bike race out along the Portway. You get Christmas Steps, Filwood (I think) swimming pool, lots of Lockleaze, all the usual landmarks, and some glimpses of the City Docks when they were still at work. There’s even some footage of one of BAC’s now-forgotten experimental aircraft, the Bristol 188 “Flaming Pencil”. I could go on about this, or show you some of the photos I took of it at the RAF Museum at Cosford, but let’s leave that for now…
That’s ‘Some People’, one to get now, or file away for the Christmas list for the older Bristolian in your life. Someone put a bit of it on YouTube, so here’s a taster.
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