B L U - M I Z Z O U

A view on Blu-ray by Brain Montgomery

 

London in the Raw (Flipside) [Blu-ray]

 

(Arnold L. Miller, 1964)

 

 

 

 

 

Offered as a Dual Format Edition October 24th, 2011

 

 

Review by Brian Montgomery

 

Production:

Theatrical: Trotwood Productions Inc.

Video: BFI Video

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 2:02:04

Disc Size: 38,794,105,520 bytes

Feature Size: 23,121,653,952 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.73 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 25th, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1 matted to 1.78

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles:

English, none

 

Extras:

• Alternative, more explicit, version of the feature

• Three 60s London Sketches; Pub (Peter Davis, 1962, 15 mins); Chelsea Bridge Boys (Peter Davis, Staffan Lamm, 1966, 28 mins); Strip (Peter Davis, Staffan Lamm, Don Defina, 1966, 26 mins)

• Original trailer

• Illustrated booklet with essay by novelist and critic Stewart Home (author of Down and Out in Shoreditch and Hoxton); original review and promotional material; recollections by Davis, Defina and Lamm

 

Bitrate:

 

 

The Film:

Less focused even than its companion piece Primitive London from 1965, what Miller's film does offer is an intriguing little window onto the tensions between that mythical city Swinging London, and the prosaic reality for the dancers, drinkers, workers, and punters all hankering after a little late night action....Like Primitive London, David Gell's narration warns that there's nothing quite as expensive as a cheap thrill. That attitude may be a little rich, given that the film trades shamelessly on the thing it purports to expose, but 40 years on and even the hypocrisy looks rather quaint. London In The Raw's roots lie in the 'mondo'-style documentary - a cheerfully cynical hybrid of eye-popping revelation and awkward theatricality. Ironically, it's the implausibly staged sequences which now provide some of the kitsch appeal, but even without them Miller's film is a fascinating historical document.

Excerpt of review from Jon Fortgang at Channel 4 located HERE

 

 

Image:

The BFI deserves a lot of credit for the image quality here. Given the time and conditions that this film was made in, one would expect a a good deal of scratches, and damage. Yet, you will find none of that here. Instead, the image looks glorious in 1080p on both cuts of the film. The skin tones appear natural given the lighting (mostly indoors in low lights). The color is often vibrant with sharp details and there is no evidence whatsoever of artificial manipulations. It's clear that there was a lot of effort put into restoration here, and that work really shines through. The disc is advertised as 'Remastered to HD from the original negative' and has the same consistent grain as Primitive London. This appearance is quite strong on Blu-ray.  There is no gloss and the feature takes up over 23 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's Flipside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music:

The dialogue always sounds crisp without any evidence of unintentional background noise(those meant to be in the film are always balanced nicely against the narration and music so that we never miss anything), hisses or pops. You can always clearly hear the narration and the music comes across as wonderful, particularly in the final scene. The disc also comes with English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired which, unlike some recent releases always corresponded with what was actually on screen. Oh, and despite what the BFI's website says, this is indeed, region free!

 

Extras:

The additional cut of the film is memorable not just for shortening some of the longer scenes, but also containing differences on how the film's nudity is handled. In the theatrical cut the nudity (mostly bared breasts) is often done in a long shot, thereby obscuring some of it. In the alternate cut the nudity is presented less modestly, with clear medium shots and perhaps a few extra nude women (and a transvestite stripper) that weren't in the theatrical edition. While there are some interesting parts of scenes missing, there is also some non-nude material that I believe was added, most interestingly a group of beatniks dining on gourmet cat food! The short subjects "Chelsea Bridge Boys" and "Pub" seem a bit out of place on this disc, as this film's sequel, "Primitive London" dealt more with bikers and pubs. Both present fascinating subjects that provide us with a glimpse into London in the early 1960's. Yet, I for one, found the cinéma vérité "Strip" to be the real gem in the bunch. Here we get to see a group of women at a London strip club give an unobtrusive guide through their lives and their reasons for stripping. Finally, the BFI has also included a 37 page booklet with widely entertaining promotional material interspersed between some rather informative essays on the films and filmmakers.

 

Bottom line:

I consider this to be an obvious purchase to anyone interested in cult and exploitation cinema. Beyond that it provides us with a fascinating glimpse into a city that has undoubtedly changed much in the 45 years that this was made. Lacking much of the faux moralizing of its successor (just think of Primitive London's key party scene) and simply presenting much of the underground scene without judging, makes for a more enjoyable overall experience. For me this is an easy disc to recommend. After all, who wouldn't love a film that ends by thanking both the Whiskey A Gogo and Omar Khayyam?

Brian Montgomery
September 10th, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

Offered as a Dual Format Edition October 24th, 2011

 


 





 

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