Flipside 012: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush

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MichaelB
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Flipside 012: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush

#1 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jan 19, 2010 4:40 pm

Clive Donner's celebrated coming-of-age comedy - now confirmed as a 2010 release, courtesy of a brief mention on Kim Newman's Guide to the Flipside of British Cinema.

More details when I get them - in the meantime, here's the IMDB entry

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ellipsis7
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Re: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Clive Donner, 1968)

#2 Post by ellipsis7 » Tue Jan 19, 2010 5:26 pm

Tom Milne in Time Out...
Swinging London days, so poor Hunter Davies' pleasant sub-Salinger novel, about the sexual tribulations of a grammar school sixth-former (he longs for something a bit more up-market than the snotty-nosed local bints), gets the full gloss treatment. Jamie McGregor (Evans) worked part-time for a small local Co-op, but here he's much more smartly located in a supermarket; the Stevenage council estate where he lives looks like King's Road-cum-Carnaby Street, fairly dripping with dolly birds; his dream fantasies are Dick Lester lookalikes, using speeded-up motion for good measure; and when he finally gets invited to a party, the scene looks as fashionably clichéd as the photographer's studio antics in Antonioni's Blow-Up. Donner's eagerness to pour 'swinging style' and pop songs over everything makes nonsense of the socially critical attitudes that filter weakly through from the script (by Hunter Davies himself). So charmless as to be almost unwatchable.
Author: TM Time Out Film Guide
Fascinating!...

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zedz
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Re: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Clive Donner, 1968)

#3 Post by zedz » Tue Jan 19, 2010 5:32 pm

My only reference point for this is the Spencer Davis Group / Traffic soundtrack, which I believe was recorded when the former band was fragmenting and the latter emerging.

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Re: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Clive Donner, 1968)

#4 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jan 19, 2010 5:49 pm

One of the annoying things about the otherwise generally terrific Time Out Film Guide is that it doesn't date its reviews - because without delving into their archives there's no way of knowing whether it's a review of the original theatrical release written almost immediately after a screening, or a much later piece for the Repertory or Films on TV section, written years after the release and possibly only on the basis of a dim memory.

Adrian Turner's notorious slating of Daisies is a case in point - in this case, I remember that the review was published to accompany the film's 1990 BBC2 screening, but I'm willing to bet that Turner hadn't actually watched the film since its original release over twenty years earlier!

The reason this matters is that much of the fascination of the BFI's current delving into the secret history of 1960s/70s British cinema comes from the way that films that were critically slated at the time have since become perversely enthralling. That Kind of Girl, for instance, is a routine exploitation piece shot in three weeks by a first-time director, but it preserves a veritable encyclopaedia of information about life in 1963 - which is what makes it far, far more interesting to a viewer in 2010 than would have been the case on its original release.

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Re: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Clive Donner, 1968)

#5 Post by ellipsis7 » Tue Jan 19, 2010 6:14 pm

That's the fascination of FLIPSIDE series which forms a sociological history as well as highlighting forgotten British cinema of the 60s & 70s, and I take it as read that the Time Out reviews are rooted in their time and viewing context, but they do validly form part of the reception history of the films which now, as you say, can be reexamined and reevaluated from a 2010 perspective...... However you have persuaded me to pick up THAT KIND OF GIRL which is ridiculously cheap (Blu pre-order discounted 54%) @ Amazon, for the feature and the copious extras... And how about Peter Whitehead's TONITE LET'S ALL MAKE LOVE IN LONDON? - surely an ideal title for a FLIPSIDE Blu...

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Re: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Clive Donner, 1968)

#6 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jan 19, 2010 6:30 pm

ellipsis7 wrote:That's the fascination of FLIPSIDE series which forms a sociological history as well as highlighting forgotten British cinema of the 60s & 70s, and I take it as read that the Time Out reviews are rooted in their time and viewing context, but they do validly form part of the reception history of the films which now, as you say, can be reexamined and reevaluated from a 2010 perspective......
You missed my main point, which is that we don't know whether that review was actually written in 1968 or a decade or two later, and it would be interesting to know the precise context. Tom Milne was around in the 1960s, but Time Out only started in 1968, so this may well have been from a later screening - but how much later I simply don't know.

On the other hand, I'm pretty certain the review of Prostitute that you posted does indeed date from 1980, if only because it's never been on telly and had no repertory life to speak of.

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Re: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Clive Donner, 1968)

#7 Post by ellipsis7 » Tue Jan 19, 2010 6:40 pm

Good point... And then of course these are capsule reviews, presumably edited down/distilled versions of original full length reviews at an altogether different and later point to the original writing, at some point from when the Time Out Guide was first compiled in 1989 (Editor, T.Milne, # 1-3), or alternatively completely fresh capsules written at that time... As you say, we are none the wiser...

However, this dated review from the NY Times is purely amusing & real reception history (stateside)...
Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush (1968)
March 5, 1968
Mod Love and Courtship:' Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush' Opens
By RENATA ADLER
Published: March 5, 1968

IF sound in movies does not matter to you—or if only "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush," which opened yesterday at the Baronet, were a silent film—it might be a good movie to see. Adapted by Hunter Davies from a novel of his own, it has the worst script, bar none, I have ever heard. One wisecrack relentlessly follows another—neither funny nor true to the unfunny wisecracks people make in real life. There are countless strongly off-color remarks—all of them embarrassingly not quite humor, the way the off-color jokes of children are.

But if you can ignore lines on the order of "This is how the world ends, not with a bang but with a wimpy," and "What about the starving goats of China? Don't they matter?"—it is impossible to convey this sort of thing accurately; its awfulness is cumulative — and if you also don't mind voices pitched to a shrill unpleasantness, there is still the plot.

It is a kind of cross between "Billy Liar" and "Closely Watched Trains." That is, the hero (played by Barry Evans, whose first movie role this is) is always hoping to get a girl into bed and having daydreams. For the rest, he has a series of slapstick encounters with girls before he seduces any.

There are few plot devices more boring, in Czechoslovak films or in English, than having people talk about their sexual problems for the duration of a film; and the fact that most of the exposition in this movie takes place in the high, husky voice of Mr. Evans—in interior monologue does not help matters much. But when all that is said and done—and it is hard to tell whether the uncertain acting of the entire cast is wholly the fault of the lines they have to speak—the movie is visually quite varied and rich.

The opening credits, by the Richard Williams Studio, have all sorts of painterly psychedelic effects and what looks like an odd combination of negative print and silk screening. There is an extraordinary tableau of Mr. Evans participating in a children's play—reminiscent of the child scenes in "Juliet of the Spirits" and the apple-festival scene in "Privilege." Some rather daring naked scenes of Mr. Evans and Judy Geeson (who co-stars as the girl he wants) have a lovely white-on-white quality. There is also a particularly effective, well-timed and well-grouped, full-dress orgy scene near the end—a bit naughtier than the puppy-play orgy in "Blow-Up," a bit less earnest than the grim one in "Red Desert."

Clive Donner, in short, who directs (his previous work includes "What's New Pussycat?" and "The Caretaker"), directs quite beautifully from one point of view. Not the viewpoint of spoken language certainly, or of narrative; and some of the scenes are dull while others have some of the tasteless excesses of "What's New Pussycat?" But from a pictorial point of view—of what a new fantasy of mod love and courtship might look like.

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Re: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Clive Donner, 1968)

#8 Post by The Glue Man » Tue Jan 19, 2010 8:07 pm

=D>

Well, I never thought I'd see the day... funnily enough, this just about tops my list of films I've always wanted to see a proper release, going back to wishing it was out on VHS - who knew back then that one day I'd be picking it up on DVD, let alone Blu-Ray!!! Not that it's the greatest film ever, mind, but it just has something - funnily enough, that list also included Privilege, and I can't believe that one's coming out in a few days time yet I'm not buying it, due to waiting for the BR! (although I may give in to temptation - any chance of a trade-in scheme? :wink:)

So, here's hoping that Mulberry Bush is one of the May titles, and it better be the export edition too...

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Re: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Clive Donner, 1968)

#9 Post by MichaelB » Thu Jan 21, 2010 5:54 am

The Glue Man wrote:that list also included Privilege, and I can't believe that one's coming out in a few days time yet I'm not buying it, due to waiting for the BR! (although I may give in to temptation - any chance of a trade-in scheme? :wink:)
I suspect not, given that the Blu-ray release has already been announced - so you can't fairly accuse the BFI pulling a fast one and making people double-dip with this title.
So, here's hoping that Mulberry Bush is one of the May titles, and it better be the export edition too...
I'll confirm dates and specs when I get full details, but standard Flipside practice is to present the longest/best version available to the highest possible technical standards. The crucial word is "available", though!

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Re: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Clive Donner, 1968)

#10 Post by RossyG » Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:39 pm

What are the differences between the UK and export versions?

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Re: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Clive Donner, 1968)

#11 Post by The Glue Man » Thu Jan 21, 2010 4:42 pm

MichaelB wrote:

I suspect not, given that the Blu-ray release has already been announced - so you can't fairly accuse the BFI pulling a fast one and making people double-dip with this title.
Ooh, I know, I was only kidding :) - I've pretty much decided to buy both, especially as the DVD is so cheap, then just give it away as a gift when the BR appears...
So, here's hoping that Mulberry Bush is one of the May titles, and it better be the export edition too...
I'll confirm dates and specs when I get full details, but standard Flipside practice is to present the longest/best version available to the highest possible technical standards. The crucial word is "available", though![/quote]

Appreciate it :)
Last edited by The Glue Man on Thu Jan 21, 2010 4:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Clive Donner, 1968)

#12 Post by The Glue Man » Thu Jan 21, 2010 4:45 pm

RossyG wrote:What are the differences between the UK and export versions?
The UK version is cut - well, I say cut, more re-framed... I have seen various off-airs over the years, I think just once the Beeb showed it uncut but this means remembering back about 16 years or so...!

Can't wait for the release - I'm half expecting to watch it again, and suddenly find it to be... meh... but that's just not the point after all this time...

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Re: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Clive Donner, 1968)

#13 Post by GaryC » Thu Jan 21, 2010 5:00 pm

FWIW the BBFC cut the film before giving it a X certificate in 1967. (If you want to check this on the BBFC database, the penultimate word is misspelled "Mulbery".)

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Re: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Clive Donner, 1968)

#14 Post by Ashirg » Thu Jul 01, 2010 9:27 pm

Amazon got it for pre-order for September 13

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Re: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Clive Donner, 1968)

#15 Post by MichaelB » Thu Aug 12, 2010 7:19 am

Full specs announced:
Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

This glossy coming-of-age comedy, directed by Clive Donner (The Caretaker), follows the exploits of sex-obsessed Jamie (Barry Evans) and his attempts to join the Swinging Sixties set and lose his virginity.

Filled with the distinctive sights and sounds of late-1960s Stevenage and based on the novel by Hunter Davies (The Beatles biography), this enduring cult classic also stars Judy Geeson and Denholm Elliot and features music by The Spencer Davies Group and Traffic. This world premiere presentation is fully uncut and re-mastered in High Definition.

Special features

* Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition
* Complete uncensored presentation of main feature (DVD and Blu-ray)
* Alternative censored version (Blu-ray only)
* Alternative censored sequences (DVD only)
* Because That Road is Trodden (Tim King, 1969, 23 mins): dream-like confessional concerning the fantasies of a public schoolboy
* Stevenage (Gordon Ruttan, 1971, 21 mins): documentary celebration of Britain’s first New Town
* Illustrated booklet with contributions from Hunter Davies, Steve Chibnall, Vic Pratt and William Fowler

Technical details

Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (Flipside 012) Cat no: BFIB1034 / UK / 1967 / Cert 15 / colour / English / Optional subtitles for the hearing-impaired on feature / 97 mins / Original aspect ratio 1.78:1 // Disc 1: BD50 / 1080p / 24fps / PCM mono audio (48k/24-bit) Region B
Disc 2: DVD-9 / PAL / PCM mono audio (48k/16-bit) (Extras Dolby Digital 320kbps) / Region 2

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Re: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Clive Donner, 1968)

#16 Post by RossyG » Thu Aug 12, 2010 9:03 am

Sounds like a great package. The film on Stevenage is an inspired inclusion. Great to see Hunter Davies - author of the screenplay and the original novel - has contributed to the booklet.


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Re: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Clive Donner, 1968)

#18 Post by MichaelB » Tue Aug 31, 2010 7:52 am

New Statesman - handily, Ryan Gilbey is a colleague of Hunter Davies, and he really nails the film's appeal today:
Paradoxically, this visual ripeness only underlines the film's strongest element: its location. The novel was set in Carlisle, but the movie shifted the action south - not to Carnaby Street, or Chelsea, but to plain old Stevenage. The town was chosen, says Hunter, "partly because it was just 30 miles from London. There was some union agreement at the time that cast and crews should be paid overnight allowance for any film shot more than 30 miles from London. So Stevenage saved them a lot of money."

That setting will really breathe life into Mulberry Bush for viewers today. The concrete plazas which epitomised the excitement of modernity, and all those underpasses and wide, wide streets that Jamie cycles through as he delivers his libidinous monologues like an Alfie Mini-Me: there's a sociological power in these things that's beyond the reach of any production designer or wardrobe department. I think that's what my Dad was responding to when he first saw the film, and what has enabled his affection for it to endure; while he adored Hollywood product like Bullitt, it was Mulberry Bush and The Knack...and How to Get It which spoke to him about his life.

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Re: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Clive Donner, 1968)

#19 Post by ellipsis7 » Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:43 am

Having caught snatches of this on Youtube, it's the flavour of a precursor to the 'Confessions of a Window Cleaner' type genre (although visually much more striking, and at a different production level) that's slightly putting me off MULBERRY BUSH...

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Re: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Clive Donner, 1968)

#20 Post by RossyG » Tue Aug 31, 2010 9:31 am

It's not really like Confessions apart from that it's about a young man wanting sex. For a start, Timmy Lea always gets it while Jamie's not so lucky. Confessions is just about sexual conquest for physical gratification; with Mulberry Bush you get the impression that it's more about Jamie's alienation and wanting to be like his male peers. His younger brother and his best friend are "getting it" so why not him? What's he doing wrong, or rather, what's wrong with him? Also, Timmy is a grinning lad-about-town, while Jamie is more complex: an acute observer who makes a lousy partipant when it comes to living life.

I saw Mulberry Bush on TV when I was 17 in the late-80s and really identified with Jamie. I was amused by Confessions but couldn't identify with it, any more than I could identify with a Carry On film. It was set in a seaside postcard fantasy world, whereas Mulberry Bush was only slightly exaggerated for comedy affect.

This is probably my most-looked-forward-to BD release of the year.


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Re: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Clive Donner, 1968)

#22 Post by souvenir » Sat Sep 11, 2010 12:46 pm

MichaelB wrote:Beaver.
Is that review accurate regarding the Blu-ray being region-free? I was thinking it was going to be a Region B disc.

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Re: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Clive Donner, 1968)

#23 Post by MichaelB » Sat Sep 11, 2010 1:15 pm

I have no means of checking the actual disc, but my copy is definitely marked Region B - and it's listed as Region B on the official BFI region list from information supplied directly from the head of BFI DVD Publishing.

So my advice is to assume that Beaver has got it wrong - or, to be fair, that they may have been reviewing off a checkdisc that was inadvertently region-free. Something similar happened in reverse with Winstanley, which they initially claimed was Region B but it was 100% definitely region-free - and, again, a checkdisc that slightly differed from the final production version was to blame.

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Re: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Clive Donner, 1968)

#24 Post by bamwc2 » Sat Sep 11, 2010 2:36 pm

MichaelB wrote:I have no means of checking the actual disc, but my copy is definitely marked Region B - and it's listed as Region B on the official BFI region list from information supplied directly from the head of BFI DVD Publishing.

So my advice is to assume that Beaver has got it wrong - or, to be fair, that they may have been reviewing off a checkdisc that was inadvertently region-free. Something similar happened in reverse with Winstanley, which they initially claimed was Region B but it was 100% definitely region-free - and, again, a checkdisc that slightly differed from the final production version was to blame.

Right now I'm currently region locked. My old region free computer died and although I currently have a higher performing BD drive on a loner computer, no software on the net can make it region free. So, if it played on my computer, it's not a region locked disc. I've encountered numerous discs during this time that say that they're region B (or 2) locked but they then play for me and independent programs identify as region free. So, I'm going to assume that it's either a misprint on the sleeve or a quirk of the check disc.

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Re: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Clive Donner, 1968)

#25 Post by MichaelB » Sat Sep 11, 2010 2:52 pm

I think the sensible thing might be to make it clear that you're not reviewing a final release version, because we've had this problem before with Winstanley - and while that was largely harmless (since Beaver said it was region-locked and it wasn't), this could be more serious. As far as I'm aware, there's a contractual obligation to region-code this disc, and the packaging certainly says it's Region B.

For what it's worth, my general rule when reviewing for Sight & Sound is to assume region-coding unless I have either a final release version that I can personally check, or the distributor's assurance that it's region-free. (And usually the distributor has to be someone like Nick at MoC who I trust: a PR agency usually doesn't have much of a clue).

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