H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


Primitive London [Blu-ray]


(Arnold L. Miller, 1965)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Trotwood Productions Inc.

Video: BFI Home Video



Region: FREE (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:27:10.725

Disc Size: 35,674,745,736 bytes

Feature Size: 19,582,104,000 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.99 Mbps

Average Total Bitrate: 29.95 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 25th, 2009



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
DUB: LPCM Audio French 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit



English, none



Carousella (John Irvin, 1965, 26:22 HD): a dramatized documentary on the lives of a group of striptease artistes
Stuart McCabe (strip club manager) interview (1968, 15:23 HD)
Shirley (stripper) interview (1968, 6:19 HD)
* Al Burnett (nightclub owner) interview (1967, 17:11 HD)
Original trailer (English and French language options 1:59 HD)
38-page illustrated booklet with essays by Iain Sinclair, Vic Pratt (BFI Curator) and William Fowler (BFI Curator); original review and promotional material





Description: The sensational follow-up to London in the Raw sets out to reflect society's decay through a sideshow spectacle of 1960s London depravity - and manages to out do its predecessor. Here, we confront mods, rockers and beatniks at the Ace Cafe, cut some rug with obscure beat band The Zephyrs, witness a seedy Jack the Ripper re-enactment, smirk at flabby men in the sauna and goggle at sordid wife-swapping parties as we discover a pre-permissive Britain still trying to move on from the post-war depression of the 1950s.



The Film:

In the cramped viewing theatre you have the classic London package: class, crime (a blood-soaked, serial-killer movie with Boris Karloff), property speculation, pornography, transatlantic schmoozing, aspirations towards critical acceptance by way of cultural cannibalism. The tender eroticism of the deal. That, according to the writer Derek Raymond, a Soho habitué, was the point of any exchange between insider and civilian: "To work the gelt out of the pocket." Nobody ever lost money operating on the Xerox principle: discover an energy source, copy it, copy it again and keep going.

Primitive London was a Xerox, by way of those jaunty "Look at Life" programme fillers, of Gualtiero Jacopetti's 1961 hit, Mondo Cane. Jacopetti travelled the world in quest of savage sexual rites to capture and expose. The world paid its respects at the box office. Klinger and Tenser, cinema owners, skin-flick promoters, spotted a trend. They signed on as executive producers of this daring new hybrid: part tit-show, part satire, part tabloid editorial. Primitive London never strayed far from its Soho roots - keeping the emphasis on that "prim". Miller produced, wrote and directed. Long (future director of Adventures of a Plumber's Mate, On the Game and Naughty) operated the camera. Ian Ogilvy, star of The Sorcerers, didn't think much of Stan's craft: "Very B or C team, frankly." But Long had been around for years, producing, directing, facilitating: 8mm nudies, exotic postcards - and even, it is claimed, taking over, seamlessly, from the respected cinematographer Gilbert Taylor, to complete the last third of Roman Polanski's Repulsion. He wasn't expensive and he had his own equipment.

Excerpt from Iain Sinclair of The Guardian located HERE



Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

All things considered this is a very impressive image rendered to 1080P. It way beyond what one might expect from such a clandestine film made almost 45 years ago. Who'd a thunk?  Fleshtones seem a shade reddish at times and detail is, expectantly, not up to modern standards but the image is rife with beautiful textured grain and colors are surprisingly vibrant. It even exhibits some depth now-and-then. There was probably some restoration as damage marks (a few speckles) are almost non-existent and the disc is advertised as 'Remastered to HD from the original negative'. This appearance is quite exceptional on Blu-ray.  There is no gloss and the feature takes up almost 20 Gig of the dual-layered disc and there doesn't appear to be any intrusive DNR or edge enhancements. This is another solid job by the BFI - the viewing is a exhilarating experience.















Audio :

Like The Bed Sitting Room there is no boost going on here - it's a straight linear PCM 2.0 channel at 1536 kbps. But a LPCM French DUB options is included. The narration was clean and clear and obviously this is not an aggressive, sound-effect filled, modern mix.  I found no reasons to complain with no dropouts or pops interfering with the aural presentation. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu identifies the disc as being region FREE playable on that format's machines worldwide.




Extras :

Supplements consist of John Irvin's 1965 dramatized, black + white, documentary on the lives of a group of striptease artistes. It is entitled Carousella. It runs 26:22 in HD. There are also 3 interviews, from the late 60's, also in HD - Stuart McCabe (strip club manager) for 15-minutes, Shirley (a stripper) for 6 minutes and Al Burnett (nightclub owner) for almost 18 minutes. Finally on the digital front there is a 2-minute original trailer with English and French language options - also in HD. BFI have included a wonderful 38-page illustrated booklet with photos and essays by Iain Sinclair, Vic Pratt (BFI Curator) and William Fowler (BFI Curator), original reviews and promotional material.



I found the image on Blu-ray totally compelling. This is another eclectic selection from BFI that runs deep with kitsch appeal. The 1080P visuals really help establish the timeframe of the film. You really feel like you are stepping back to a unique place and time. Being region-free is another solid reason to indulge. The content may not be to all tastes but we highly recommend this Blu-ray. You may be very surprised how you are endeared and educated. 


Gary Tooze

May 28th, 2009





About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze








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