From the back row, Jim Dale as Cyclops, Bernard Bresslaw as Colossus, Hattie Jacques as Storm, Peter Butterworth as Beast, Joan Sims as Dr. Jean Grey, Kenneth Williams as Magneto, Barbara Windsor as Rogue, Kenneth Connor as Professor Charles Xavier, Sid James as Wolverine, and Charles Hawtrey as Nightcrawler. Now this is how to do the X-Men!
‘What did you do in the 1980s, Daddy?’ For those who want to know what it was like to be young(ish) and middle class in Britain during the 1980s, then take a look at the Pet Shop Boys in their one-and-only feature film, It Couldn’t Happen Here. Originally planned as an hour long pop promo to accompany the release of their third album Actually, It Couldn’t Happen Here captures the style, the pretensions, the cultural obsessions and some of the most popular music of that decade.
The Pet Shop Boys are a hugely under-rated band, whose compelling, beautiful and catchy music by Chris Lowe, can often disguise the power and passion of Neil Tennant’s lyrics. For you see, despite what the music press claims (that means you NME), or the modes by which the band present themselves (daft hats and outfits), there is really nothing ironic about the Pet Shop Boys at all. They mean everything they do. Which is why It Couldn’t Happen Here is so frustrating. It could have been like The Monkees Head for the 1980s, with a hard, political edge, but it wanders without any sense of direction through a series of segments that revolve too literally around the songs.
That said, for a pop film it’s not all that bad, and the quality of the songs, and some of the eye-catching performances (Joss Ackland, Gareth Hunt, Barbara Windsor) make it almost passable. If only Derek Jarman (who collaborated on a stage show, and directed the promo for “It’s A Sin”) or Lindsay Anderson (the director of If… and O, Lucky Man! who would had directed the concert film of Wham, yes, Wham, in China) had been asked to direct rather than Jack Bond, then things might have been different. Even so, Bond made it look sumptuous and Neil Tennant found out he couldn’t act.
Sometimes you can judge a film by its poster, as can be seen by this fab poster by artist Paul Garner for an imaginary flick, Carry On Zombie. Indeed, I’m so taken with Mr Garner’s illustration, I’d pay good money to see Sid, Kenneth, Babs and co. as the living dead.
Based in Brighton, Garner has produced an incredible array of art work for magazines, papers, CDs and posters, all of which is available for view over at his site.
I do hope Mr Garner’s excellent poster will inspire someone to resurrect (ahem) the Carry On… franchise. Meantime, here’s a trailer for one they made earlier, Carry On Screaming.