Skip to main content
  1. AXS Entertainment
  2. Arts & Entertainment
  3. Movies

Girls from the North Country: 'Smashing Time' (1967)

See also

"Smashing Time" (1967)


For a brief moment in time in the mid-'60s, Swinging London was where it was at: the center of fashion, pop music, and all things groovy. Inevitably, a number of films attempted to capture the spirit of Swinging London, most of which failed miserably, but several of which are well worth revisiting. One of those films is 1967's "Smashing Time," directed by Desmond Davis, the story of two girls from the North of England, Yvonne (Lynn Redgrave) and Brenda (Rita Tushingham), who come to London in search of fame and fortune.

More Photos

The film, written by blues singer/essayist/film critic George Melly, author of "Revolt into Style: Pop Arts in Britain," is half slapstick satire, half musical, as the misadventures of the two leads are often accompanied by songs commenting on the action. Redgrave and Tushingham are clearly not trained singers, but their musical interludes, though a bit on the twee side, are oddly charming. Ironically, in the movie, Redgrave's Yvonne becomes a pop star with a hit single "I Can't Sing But I'm Young."

Redgrave and Tushingham had co-starred in Davis's 1964 directorial debut "The Girl with Green Eyes," and "Smashing Time" attempts to turn the pair into "the female Laurel and Hardy," with the bovine Redgrave as Ollie and the waifish, saucer-eyed Tushingham as Stan. The slapstick nature of many of the gags, including not one but two food fights, is well over-the-top, but the charm and talent of the two actresses rise above the clumsiness of the humor.

Also in the cast are Michael York, in his film debut, as a mod fashion photographer (a la David Bailey), who sports a dodgy mustache and a cockney accent that is miles away from his usual posh delivery; and the brilliant but underutilized Anna Quayle, who won a Tony Award in 1962 for her performance in Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse's "Stop the Word, I Want to Get Off!," playing a feckless socialite who runs Too Much, a trendy boutique modeled after shops like Granny Takes a Trip and Lady Jane.

Yes, the film is silly, and the music, with the exception of one authentic British beat number by Skip Bifferty, fails to capture the sounds of the time, but "Smashing Time" is worth a look if only for the location shots of Carnaby Street and other London landmarks, the mod clothes, and the comic chemistry of the two leads.

Unfortunately, upon its release in late '67, the film did not do well at the box office, because, as Tushingham lamented, "By the time it came out, Swinging London was over."

To subscribe to the Austin Classic Movies Examiner, click HERE.

J.M. Dobies, Austin Classic Movies Examiner Facebook Page


Today's top buzz...

  • Ted Nugent
    Ted Nugent concert at Native American casino canceled because of obvious reasons
    Music Buzz
  • NFL
    Pat Bowlen steps down as Broncos owner following Alzheimer's diagnosis
    NFL Buzz
  • Tina Fey
    See why Tina Fey is possibly the most popular woman in comedy at the moment
    Today's Buzz
  • Mick Jagger
    Mick Jagger promotes 'Get On Up' in New York, including Apollo Theater premiere
    20 Photos
  • Boyhood
    The new film 'Boyhood' chronicles twelve years of one boy's life
    19 Photos
  • Buffy
    We're counting down ten of the finest episodes of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’
    7 Photos