Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The System: When Michael was a Winner

As soon as I realised how many obscure old British films LoveFilm has I signed up to it. One of the best I have seen so far is The System. It was shot in 1964 when Michael Winner was justifiably one of the great hopes of British cinema.

The System tells the story of a group of young men in a seaside town who play and prey upon the girls who visit it. They are led by Oliver Reed in one of his early starring roles and the rest of the group contains several faces that were about to become famous too, including David Hemmings and John Alderton.

Interestingly, the actor amongst them with the greatest screen presence is Andrew Ray. He had enjoyed fame as a child star in the fifties in The Mudlark and The Yellow Balloon (more on the latter film one day) and like his friend Hemmings was beginning to ride the wave of the sixties, but his career was soon to go into decline.

The film is notable for its photography and locations, including near documentary footage of holidaymakers on the beach and shots of Brixham station (which had already closed when the film was made there) and the abandoned village of Hallsands.

Like other sixties' heroes (think Blowup and Alfie) Oliver Reed turns out not to be as in control of events as he likes to imagine. He falls in love with the classy Jane Merrow, but it is she who drops him and you suddenly realise how cheerless his life will be in the out of season resort.


David said...

Have you seen "The Damned" filmed th e year before, directed by Joseph Losey. I expect Winner did. Reed played a teenage gang leader in another seaside town (Weymouth this time). Silly plot but good direction.

David said...

By the way, I saw "The System" when it came out ! I went to the pictures a lot as a young teenager - and you got a "B" feature.