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Beat Girl

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    Ian Jane
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  • Beat Girl



    Beat Girl
    Released by: BFI
    Released on: April 25th, 2016.
    Director: Edmond T. Greville
    Cast: Christopher Lee, Oliver Reed, Nigel Green, Margot Bryant, Nade Beall, Adam Faith, Gillian Hills
    Year: 1960

    The Movie:

    The plot for Edmond T. Greville's 1960 film Beat Girl (also known as Wild For Kicks) is very much a product of its time. In the film, David Farrar is Paul. He's a recently divorced Englishman who soon marries a foxy French woman named Nichole (Noelle Adam). Jenny (the ultra-hot Gillian Hills from A Clockwork Orange) is his daughter and she's become quite taken with the beatnik scene that's started to become so popular in the London of the 1960s.

    Jenny spends a lot of time hanging out in divey clubs with her evil hippie friends (one of whom is played by a young Oliver Reed) and listening to experimental jazz music. She even gets into some more rambunctious rock and roll - is she on a downward spiral? The more she gets to know her new stepmother the more she begins to really dislike Nichole a whole heckuva lot. Part of the problem might be that Nichole isn't really much older than Jenny is and she seems to make it a point to meddle in Jenny's life. Of course, this only ends up making things worse for her.

    Eventually Jenny uncovers, through a little snooping, that Nichole used to be a stripper. She finds this out when she realizes that she's rather friendly with one a girl who currently works at the dance hall in town. Jenny hopes to use this information against her stepmother and bring it straight to dear old dad, who presumably doesn't know about his new wife's past life.

    The more she hangs out at the dance hall though, the more Jenny catches the attention of Kenny, the owner (played by genre movie legend Christopher Lee). She's clearly intrigued by him but remains unaware that he hopes to lure Jenny into his evil clutches as he tries to get her to turn to a life of stripping!

    Beat Girl is pretty silly stuff. Even in its time it must have been a pretty hard film to take seriously (and it's tough to be 100% sure that we were ever supposed to), but it is nothing if not entertaining. There's a lot of classic 'daddy-o' style dialogue though and a killer sixties rock and roll soundtrack behind it all that make it a pretty fun little movie. On top of that we get some pretty scintillating strip tease footage that earned the film an X rating in its native England upon its initial theatrical release. This material is reasonably tame by modern standards but in its time, it would have been considered pretty strong stuff. If nothing else, those with an appreciation for the art of strip tease and burlesque dancing should find much to enjoy, particularly if your personal tastes lean towards the attire of the era!

    Lee's presence as the surly strip club owner might be the highlight of the movie for many, as he's sufficiently sleazy in his role and it's a different type of part than those most will be accustomed to seeing him play. Oliver Reed also delivers some stand out work here, making quite an impression even without leading the picture. Of course, the beautiful Gillian Hills is always pleasant to look at, especially when she's shaking what she's got as a go-go dancer, but aside from the visual side of her work, she's got solid acting skill to go along with it. Throw in the equally lovely Noelle Adam and a fun turn from David Farrar and this turns out to be one worth watching just for the cast alone.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Beat Girl has been restored in 2k high definition from the original negative by the BFI and presented on a 50GN Blu-ray disc in its original 1.66.1 widescreen aspect ratio in an AVC encoded 1080p black and white presentation. Although some minor print damage shows up here and there, the good by far outweighs the bad and those accustomed to how this type of material typically looks on home video should be pretty happy with the results. Detail is generally very good and while there is some occasional contrast blooming, overall the quality of the black and white image is nice and strong. There are no issues with compression artifacts or edge enhancement nor does there appear to have been an abundance of digital noise reduction applied here. Compared to the previous domestic DVD releases that have come out over the years from various public domain and grey market companies, however, this transfer is a revelation - it's vastly improved in every way you'd hope it would be.

    The LPCM Mono track, in English with optional English subtitles, is fine for the most part. Every once in a while you might note some hiss but overall the dialogue is plenty easy to follow and the film's score sounds great. The optional subtitles are easy to read and free of typos.

    The disc defaults to the 'uncut' original British theatrical version of the movie which runs roughly eighty-seven minutes, but the BFI has included an 'Alternative Version that is a softer cut (the strip tease footage is tamed down considerably) but which actually has a longer running time, clocking in at ninety-two minutes. The extension come primarily from a few added scenes of dialogue and exposition, none of which do a whole lot to really change the tone of the movie - regardless, it's great to see this alternate version included in the package, also presented in HD with LPCM Mono audio. It's worth noting, however, that when the movie switches over to the extended footage that there is a noticeable decrease in image quality indicating that this is a composite that used an inferior source for those inserts. Again, however, it's great to see this included.

    If that weren't enough, the BFI has included an interesting twenty-five minute long interview with Gillian Hills in which the picture's leading lady looks back on the time she spent working on this particular film. She shares some great stories about her co-stars, the infamous Oliver Reed in particular, and speaks rather fondly of this early entry in her career.

    Also included on the disc are two shorts films, the first of which is a twenty minute piece from 1955 called Cross-Roads, directed by John Fitchen and starring Christopher Lee. Here Lee plays a man named Harry Cooper whose sister recently died en route to a hospital after her involvement in a nasty car wreck. Plagued by memories of the woman, he does some digging around and soon believes a man named Bernard (Ferdy Mayne) actually drove her to take her on life, and so he then takes matters into his own hands. This is a very well done and efficient work of surprisingly grim horror that sees a young Christopher Lee in very fine form indeed. Fast paced and plenty atmospheric, this is one that the late actor's fan base will certainly appreciate the opportunity to see. Alongside this piece the BFI have included two burlesque shorts - the four minute Beauty In Brief from 1955 and Goodnight With Sabrina, a three minute quickie from 1958 featuring Norma Sykes under the titular alias.

    Finished product will include a DVD version of the movie with identical extras (omitting the extended version but including the extra material on its own) along with a booklet of liner notes featuring essays from Gillian Hills, Vic Pratt, Johnny Trunk and Jo Botting along with full film credits and a selection of archival stills and images.

    The Final Word:

    Beat Girl is a fun watch and while it's undeniably a product of its time, that just adds to the film's entertainment value. The BFI have gone all out on the film's Blu-ray debut, presenting two different versions of the film in great shape and with a load of other excellent supplements. A great package overall!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!




















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