"Beat Girl" (1960)
     Movie review by William Moriaty

Thunderbird Films Release presents a George Willoughby Production
Directed by:  Edward T. Greville
Story and Screenplay by:  Dail Ambler
Music composed and arranged by: John Barry and featuring the John Barry Seven
Jennifer Linden..................GILLIAN HILLS
Kenny...........................CHRISTOPHER LEE
Down and out beatnik...........OLIVER REED

Nigel Green
David Farrar
Run Time: 90 minutes
Black & White

"My mother was a stripper. I want to be a stripper too!"
"The dynamic and exciting story of youth as they search for the answers and find them!"
"SEE: Chicken on the Rails. Here comes the train. Let's play."
"SEE: Drag race---'Go Man--Go like a race track---Voom!'"
"SEE: Uninhibited striptease. 'Melt! Melt! Melt!'"

Those were the exact words on the theater posters for the 1960 British movie "Beat Girl". Strangely enough I first saw this movie in 1976 on WLCY TV (currently WTSP, channel 10) featured in a Saturday night fright show. I suspect that this came to be as when Channel 10 was sold the fright night package, the distributor saw the name Christopher Lee and assumed that it must be a fright flick. The only frightening thing about its presentation was how God-awful former WLCY weatherman Sonny Daye narrated it. Trying to sound like Dracula, he sounded more like an Italian street hawker. "We-ah now-ah return-ah to "Beat-ah Girl!".Sort of reminds you of Count Floyd battling with his producers on "Monster Chiller Horror Theater" as seen on SCTV, don't it?

Of the schlocky I movies I have reviewed thus far, this is actually the best one. This is the story of young Jennifer Linden, played impeccably by actress Gillian Hills. Her architect stick-in-the-mud father, Paul, has just brought home his newest bride, Nicole, a blonde Parisian with eye brow make up that could terrify Freddie Kreuger.

Immediately the friction between Jennifer and Nicole starts as Jenny wants nothing to do with her new stepmother. You see, Jenny is a.. a beatnik! As we all know, beatniks were those iconoclastic individuals who were too cool for school and would not be a part of the parent's misplaced dreams and values. Jenny is no exception as she disdainfully sneers when "Papa Sominex" unveils a model of his prototypical vision of the future, "City 2000". Papa Sominex blathers on that "Grime, filth, poverty, noise, hustle and bustle,--these things will be unknown" in his City of Dreams, and that it will be "an almost silent place". He later waxes to his new wife that "Jennifer said it would be like living in a tin can, but I don't think that would be true." Sorry PS, but I gotta agree with your beatnik daughter.

Night Moves
After Jennifer gives Nicole her first rash of deranged doo-doo, she changes into her beat outfit and beats her bi-peds into the London streets to go to her local white hoodlum hangout, the "Off Beat". Jennifer begins gyrating to the surprisingly good music of the John Barry Seven--music that sounds akin to the B-52's song "Rock Lobster" of some twenty years later. I'm here to tell you, Jennifer is really hot in this sequence. Amongst her white hoodlum beat friends is none other than a very young Oliver Reed who seems to be sloshed in just about every shoot.

No Such Thing As a Free Lunch
Trying to still win her exasperating stepdaughter over, Nicole decides to meet Jennifer at her art school (surprised?) in order to have a get-acquainted power lunch. Is Jennifer there? Of course not, she's chummin' it up with her white hoodlum friends at the Off Beat! Being nobody's fool, Nicole pays a surprise visit to Jenny and her pals. After Jennifer gives Nicole her second rash of deranged doo-doo, Nicole starts storming out when she runs into a "figure" from her past-- a stripper known as "Greta" who performs across the street at the "Les Girls" "gentleman's" club. Ever the catty Cretan that she is, Jenny decides to spill the beans about Nicole's encounter with Greta to Papa Sominex in order to further alienate Nicole's chances of ever fitting into the Linden household.

The Story Unfurls at Les Girls
After having put the first big bit of doubt about Nicole's secret past into the goofy gray matter of putzy Papa Sominex, Jennifer storms out of the house (again) to go to the Off Beat, followed by a side trip to Les Girls to pump stripper Greta for more information about poor Nicole. Greta blabs on like a senate filibuster detailing how she and Nicole performed at the same strip clubs in gay Paris and did other "things" to put le beans on le table. It is then when Les Girls owner Kenny (Christopher Lee) walks in on the conversation and immediately has designs on Jenny.

This time when Jenny tries to sneak back in after her night on the town, Papa Sominex is waiting at the door for her. "Nicole went to your room and found that you were missing--it's 3 A.M., we've been worried sick!" Jenny simply responds 'It's only five minutes to three--you are a real square, aren't you?" A perplexed Papa Sominex blurts out "This language, what does it mean?" So being the mature, prim and proper beat girl that she is, Jenny shouts "I hate you!" times three to Papa Sominex. And guess who's waiting in her room? Yep! Poor Nicole, still trying to be peacemaker with this blonde brat who predictably gives Nicole her third rash of deranged doo-doo.

There's No Time To Lose--To the Bat-Cave!
Feeling even more alienated from her parents, Jenny meets up with her white hoodlum friends at "Chistlehurst Caverns", a literal candlelit cave where the John Barry Seven again perform their 1960 version of the yet-to-be-released 1980 version of "Rock Lobster". Jenny laments, "I belong here! I feel good! This is my life!" Feeling rebellious and immortal, Jenny cons her white hoodlum friends into a night of kicks that includes drag racing and sticking their heads on railroad tracks to see who will be the last to move their numb skull as a freight train comes barreling their way.

The Beat People--East and West of the Atlantic
Beat Girl offers a fascinating glimpse of the differences between the British and American countercultures of that time. Unlike their American counterparts of that era, the British men had longer hair (and we're talking pre-Beatles invasion of America here) without the greasy kid stuff that was so popular in the States at that time. Nor did you see men wearing the goatees that were so common with America's male beatniks. None of the Brits wore the dark glasses or outlandish clothing or French berets, but were decked out more in jeans and leather jackets. Also, the women of Britain looked much more modern than the women of America at that time. The British women had longer hair than their American counterparts, and one of the characters in the movie, a brunette, could've passed for being from the 70's or even the 80's! Also, there was not the more cerebral reading of prose and poetry with this British crowd that was much more common with America's beatniks.

Best Actor: Gillian Hills did a superb job as the rebellious and sultry Jennifer Linden.

Worst Actor: Oliver Reed who didn't appear to have a minute's sobriety in this movie.

Worst portrayal: The acting was generally good in this movie, although it has "B" written all over it.

Most Memorable Deliveries:
Pappa Sominex to Jenny: "Why can't you sit up properly?" Jenny--"I like floors!"

One of Jenny's white hoodlum friends after meeting Nicole: "Is she old?" Jenny: "Ancient--24!" Jenny's white hoodlum friend: "How can she be so square if she's French and only 24?"

One of Jenny's white hoodlum friends describing Nicole: "Man, she's on the button!" Another: "Now that's what I call material!"

Again, one of Jenny's white hoodlum friends describing Nicole: "It's the 'Paris Poodle'." Jenny: "More like a bloodhound!"

Brunette white hoodlum friend of Jenny's describing her feeling for the guitar-playing troubadour: "Daddy-O, I'm over and out!"

Brunette white hoodlum friend of Jenny's: "I'm way out!"

The guitar-playing troubadour to a group of thugs spoiling for a fight: "If you wanna fight, go and join the Army, that's the place for squares!"

Other Songs:
Brunette singing, "I won't be wicked again." The guitar-playing troubadour: "Well I saw you sit there so cool." and "Well, I did just what you told me."

The movie synopsis and review of "Beat Girl" is ©2003 by William Moriaty. "Schlockarama™" is a part of Crazed Fanboy™ dotcom and all contents are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova

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