Saturday, July 31, 2010

Four Dimensions of Greta - 1972





Pretty hard to find any official copy of this, but I eventually found someone selling a bootleg copy of it on an online marketplace.

Rated X when it came out, the few reviews I could find about it all made it seem like it was quite scandalous. So, of course I was curious and didn’t know what to expect. Soft porn? Finally would I see Robin completely naked? He sorta makes it seem that way when he writes about this movie in his book.

As my birthday treat I talked my husband into watching this one with me. Couples porn, I said. Lots of girls for you in it, Robin for me. He agreed.

The story: German guy (no, not played by Robin) is planning a trip to England to do some research for a story he’s writing for a magazine. An older couple he meets wonders if he could do them a favor while he’s over there? Their 18 year old daughter Greta had gone to London to work as an au pair and has disappeared. Could he go talk to her last employer? He agrees.

He arrives and meets up with an old girlfriend. She’s engaged to be married, as is he, but wind up naked in each others’ arms anyway. Nudity, but nothing what I’d call porn. Perhaps in its day. My husband yawns. No guy nudity, but I’m not watching this to see the German guy anyway.

German guy goes round to visit Greta’s employer who informs him she’d only worked there a week because she was a horrible worker and has no idea where she’s gone. Dead end there. He then scours the swingin’ music clubs of London, showing her photo to various club-goers. When he happens upon one that is a favorite amongst German immigrant girls, one girl said yes, she could give him some info, but he’d have to come visit her tomorrow for it. He does, to find an apartment full of naked hippies, who give him a story about Greta being cruel and manipulative and they asked her to leave. Last they heard, she was now a stripper.

While they are telling that story, we are treated to the first of four “3-D” flashback scenes. I’m sure it was pretty impressive to see on a big screen in the still-technologically primitive early ‘70s, but sadly these scenes did not transfer well to the small screen. Yes, we had a couple pairs of old 3-D glasses too!

When Hans (German guy) talks to someone from the strip club, she gives a whole different picture of Greta (via 2nd 3-D flashback). Greta was a sweet, na├»ve thing, who got herself talked into stripping and didn’t last there very long. But, perhaps Hans could try talking to her boyfriend, Roger?

Roger turns out to be Robin Askwith. In the 3rd 3-D sequence, he says he met her while working at a massage parlor which happened to be owned by the same guy who owned the strip club. He is an athlete and had to go to the place to help soothe a pulled muscle, and he could tell she was very new to the job. However, they clicked and moved in together. He talks fondly of the times they had together, and it’s a really cute scene where they’re giggling and she’s throwing him grapes. They wind up naked in bed, but it’s hardly anything X-rated. You barely see Robin at all with her laying on top of him.

Either Robin’s memories of this film have faded, or he actually filmed something more explicit than what was in the final cut. But I sure wouldn’t call this much of a “sex scene”.

Back to the story: he doesn’t know where she is now. But perhaps he should talk to the guy who owns the strip club and massage parlor? He gives him the address of gambling hall he also owns.

Once there, Hans is given a story (in the 4th 3-D scene) of an aggressive Greta who came on to him at his massage parlor. In the throes of passion, Roger had walked in and gotten into a fight with the guy, who broke his arm. But….when Hans reports back to Roger with that story, he is told what had happened instead. Roger had actually walked in on the guy raping Greta, threatened him, and took Greta away. Afterward, the owner sent some people round to kidnap Greta and break Roger’s arm in revenge.

Hans’ girlfriend is then sent in to try to sexily cajole Greta’s whereabouts out of the owner. She gets the info, but doesn’t escape a gang-raping. Don’t worry, nothing explicit is shown of that. The bad guys drive out to a houseboat where they are keeping Greta, but are followed by Hans and Roger, who climb aboard and bring everyone to justice with a good fight scene. And in the end, sweet Greta is shipped back to Germany, with a wistful Robin Askwith left behind at the airport.

Anyway, we both thought it wasn’t a bad little film. My husband was not that impressed by the selection of naked girls – he said they looked too old for the ages they were supposed to be playing, and their boobs were too big and saggy. All he really liked was when Hans’ girlfriend wore these hotpants with thigh-high stockings: “I don’t remember any girls I knew wearing those in the early ‘70s!” he said ruefully. Um, sorry, Jim, but as you were spending those years in Hacienda Heights rather than Swingin’ London, that’s what you get.

As for me, I wasn’t disappointed at all. Robin was in his prime here, and his hair was just perfect. Fluffy, clean, long enough to have a beautiful natural wave to it….mmmm. And, oh yeah, nice acting job too. ;)

MARCH 2012 UPDATE:

Just found the original trailer on YouTube! Enjoy!

Friday, July 23, 2010

LOST!!! Z-Cars – 1968

Unfortunately, Wikipedia lists the entire 1968 year of this show as lost. Here’s their explanation:

The original series was one of the last British television dramas screened live regularly — already rare by the time the programme began in 1962. It was felt that this helped immediacy and pace, and episodes were live as late as 1965, despite cameras appearing in shot. Most were videotaped for repeat, but the BBC regularly wiped tapes after programmes exceeded their usefulness, agreements with unions meaning they could only be shown a limited number of times. The space needed to store large videotapes, as well as the expense when they could be re-used, were factors.”

Anyway, here’s what they say the premise of the show was:
Z-Cars (pronounced "Zed Cars", sometimes written as Z Cars) is a British television drama series centred on the work of mobile uniformed police in the fictional town of Newtown, based on Kirkby in the outskirts of Liverpool in Lancashire. Produced by the BBC and screened on BBC Television (renamed BBC1 in 1964), it debuted in January 1962 and ran for 16 years until September 1978.”

That’s about all I know! So, unless there’s a Robin fan from way back who happened to somehow film a copy of this show and send it to me (yeah, right!) or Robin himself is secretly reading this and has a copy of his own he could let me borrow (a double “yeah, right!”) I’m going to give up on ever trying to find a copy of it. But you know, we can comfort ourselves with the probability that it was a really small part, being so early in his career and all – he doesn’t even mention it in his book!

Friday, July 16, 2010

If…. – 1968





I saw this almost 20 years ago so I had to rent it via Netflix to refresh my memory. It was considered shocking in its day with its portrayal of a school shooting massacre that has sadly become a commonplace occurrence in modern-day times. Malcolm McDowall stars as Mick Travers, one of the older boys in a upper class boarding school in England. He has a rebellious streak and little by little gets more and more fed up with the structure of the school until he reaches his breaking point.

This is 18 year old Robin’s first role in a major film. He is not one of the main schoolboy characters, but is one of the senior boys who does get to be in the background of many of the scenes. He plays “Keating”, a mischievous type who enjoys giving the younger boys a hard time. He is seen doing things like making fun of the fat kid and dunking a younger kid’s head in the toilet. There’s also a nice shot of him walking naked across the shower room.

A very absorbing, interesting film. Although I don’t think it went far enough if it was trying to portray the horrors of an English boarding school. Aside from some injustices and cruelty here and there I didn’t see how being a student there was really horrendously miserable. Perhaps because I’m looking at it from the point of view of someone who has herself gone to a private school with strict discipline (no beatings though, thank goodness!) and expectations, I dunno. I just really didn’t feel the abuse Mick took was enough to push someone (and convince his friends as well) into carrying out a massacre. From what I’ve read, the kind of kids that do this are tormented and bullied, isolating themselves and then finally lashing out in revenge. The character of Mick has friends, he’s respected enough by his peers. But, I suppose it’s pointless to try and psychoanalyze a character in a movie!

In Robin’s autobiography he mentions that part of this movie was filmed in Cheltenham, Brian Jones’ hometown. He was a fan and was able to find his house and stare at it in awe. Hey – me too! When I was in England in 1989 I took a trip up to Cheltenham and got a picture of myself standing in front of Brian Jones’ old home. I also got to visit his grave, which wasn’t yet there in 1968, but soon would be.

Why the fascination with Brian Jones? What’s the tie in for me to Robin Askwith? Who knows. For some reason I’ve been mesmerized by Brian Jones since I first saw a photo of him in a book when I was around 9. Like I’ve said before, Robin looks just like him but with a dash of Mick Jagger thrown in to give him a harder, sexier edge than Brian Jones had. Brian Jones is pure angelic. In looks anyway. Robin is him, but with a dash of devilness added!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Children’s Film Foundation films: Scramble 1970, Hide and Seek 1972, The Hostages 1975

From the Children’s Film Foundation website: “The Children's Film & Television Foundation, then the Children's Film Foundation, was set up with the support of Lord Rank in 1951. Its remit was to make films specifically for children to be screened at Saturday morning matinees and used in schools.”

There were a ton of these movies made in England. But now it seems as though they’re impossible to get! Not sure why, as from my research many adults over there have fond memories of watching them. There were only 8 put out some years back on DVD, in 4 volumes, and ONE of the ones Robin was in (Hide and Seek) was on volume 2. STILL it’s hard to find! The set was put out under the name of “Saturday Morning Pictures” and guess what, the guy who’d sold me the entire series of “Please Sir!” had that listed on his leaflet he sent out with my purchase. He listed it as: “Saturday Morning Pictures, 6 Films.” Whoo-eee, I thought, jackpot! I emailed him asking exactly which 6 films they were. As helpful as ever, he emailed back and said he didn’t have title info. Sigh. But, it was cheap, £1.95, so I purchased it anyway. Worst comes to worst, at least I still have 6 children’s films to show my son.

And guess what? “Hide and Seek” was NOT on it. Typical. What was (for anyone collecting these things): “Adventures of Hal 5” from 1957 and “Egghead’s Robot” from 1970 (both on vol 1 of “Saturday Morning Pictures”). “Go Kart Go” from 1963 and “A Hitch in Time” from ? (both from vol 3) and two others that were unlisted "extras" on the “Saturday Morning Pictures” DVD series: “The Magnificent 6 ½: Ghosts and Ghoulies” and “The Magnificent 6 ½: A Good Deed in Time”.

I noticed that a FEW of the CFF films can be seen on YouTube, but so far I don’t see the ones with Robin there. Will a kindly person out there please upload them there, if you have them? Thanks. Until then, all I can give you is the CFF’s website’s synopsis of them:

SCRAMBLE:

Jimmy Riley, who has been in trouble with the Police, is befriended by members of a schoolboys' scramble club and given a job in a garage run by the club organiser. Unfortunately, his previous associates interfere with his efforts to start a new life. Robin plays “Lennie”

Ooooh just found a better review of Scramble at: http://www.tvcream.co.uk/?p=9252 :
“Jimmy Riley, who has been in trouble with the police, makes friends with Colin and Brian Buxton, both keen scramblers at a schoolboys’ scramble club. The club’s organiser gives Jimmy a job in his garage, where Jimmy builds his own bike, Lennie and Cliff, old friends of Jimmy’s, steal wealthy Mr Hepplewhite’s car. Mr Hepplewhite buys his son, Oscar, a bike, which he has no idea how to control. Next week when the scramblers are away, Jimmy – left behind – finds the crooks with the car but will not join in with them. Oscar’s bike, again out of control, crashes into the barn. Lennie and Cliff escape in the car, but are caught by Jimmy and Colin on their bikes. Cue lots of freeze-framing of bikes in mid air, to a pumping rock – or more likely high octane skiffle – soundtrack.”

Apparently, “Scramble” was shown in the States on the CBS Children’s Film Festival with Kukla, Fran and Ollie (puppets) hosting. I vaguely remember watching some of those as a kid, but don’t know if I saw them all. http://kukla.tv/cbs.html

HIDE AND SEEK:

Keith absconds from an Approved School in the hope that his father will take him to Canada. But Keith's father seems more interested in robbing a bank. Robin plays a “fake police constable”.

AUGUST 5, 2011 UPDATE! I have now seen "Hide and Seek" and have reviewed it here!

THE HOSTAGES:

Children on lonely farm outwit escaped Dartmoor prisoners. Robin plays prisoner “Terry Sladden”

AUGUST 12, 2011 UPDATE! I have now seen "The Hostages" and have reviewed it here!



(all photos “borrowed” from the CFF website!)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Bless This House – 1973





A fun, fluffy, family-friendly comedy. This movie is based on an early ‘70s British sitcom of the same name. Robin had originally tried out for the part of Mike, the teenaged son, but had lost it to another actor because the producers had wanted a darker-haired guy to resemble the actress who would be playing his sister. Robin eventually got a part as Mike’s friend Sam in ONE of the episodes in the 2nd season. But by 1973 when they were putting together the movie they somehow felt their Mike (Robin Stewart) was too unreliable and wound up casting Robin Askwith in the part.

I loved it! It’s about a middle-class family: parents, art college son Mike and teenaged daughter Sally. New neighbors move in next door and because of a few hilarious problems, an instant feud arises between the families. Except for their lovely daughter Kate, and Mike, who naturally fall madly in love with each other. They do make a striking couple. Inexplicably, Robin has a real-life affair with the actress who plays his sister, who is nowhere near as beautiful, and is honestly, a horribly annoying actress. But I digress. The ending seems to be tied up rather too neatly as all characters make up and celebrate the marriage of Mike and Kate. Boy does he look nice in a tophat!

This is the same year Robin makes “Horror Hospital” so he looks exactly like that in this movie, same hairstyle, same sideburns. He goes through quite a few wardrobe changes and wears some of the grooviest, early 70s fashion I’ve ever seen him in!

I highly recommend this one - this is definitely a Robin movie you can watch with the kids! Funny though, because this has SO many of the same actors and actresses in the naughty “Carry On, Girls!”