Wednesday, June 26, 2024


We see 17-year-old Jamie (Barry Evans, at right), a grocery store delivery boy, biking around a London suburb, speaking an interior monologue out loud, all about the "carnal fancying" that is plaguing him. He wants to lose his virginity, but despite being attractive and relatively charming, he's having a hard time doing so. (Pun intended, inspired by a line in the movie from when he bumps into a girl on his bike. She says, "No hard feelings" and his interior reply is, "That’s what you think.") He's in love with Mary whom he sees as unobtainable, but he thinks Linda might be a more realistic target, though he frequently refers to her as "runny old Linda," apparently a reference to her class. He takes up briefly with Paula who ropes him into helping put on a church bazaar and dressing up as the King of the Fairies for a skit. Next up is Caroline (whose response to everything is a softly-drawled "super…") who invites Jamie to spend the weekend at the family home where her eccentric wine-drunk dad is sneaking around the house having an affair with the maid, though Caroline herself passes out before Jamie can make a move. At a giant make-out party, Jamie gets in some time with Audrey but is tempted away when Mary seems interested. The two go skinny-dipping and finally consummate their brief relationship (after an intrusive dog butts in), but when Jamie finds out that Mary is sexually experienced, he is turned off. We're left with Jamie, a sadder but wiser non-virgin who looks forward to further adventures at college.

This is very much a period piece, and is sometimes compared to ALFIE (Michael Caine's 1966 breakout film), another movie about a British man hung up on sex. Both celebrate the openness with which one could deal with sex in movies at the time. But this is less serious, and Jamie ends up in a better place than Alfie. With none of the female characters getting any kind of real development (and the few male characters getting even less), your enjoyment of this will depend on how you take to Barry Evans, who was in his mid-20s but easily passes for a teenager with his spritely almost impish good looks and energy. I liked Evans quite a bit (I remember him as a cast member in the British sitcom Doctor in the House) and found he made the more unlikable aspects of his character—he's a bit of a chauvinistic user—easier to take. Denholm Elliott is wasted in the small role of Caroline's drunken father. The women, who are mostly on and off the screen in a few minutes, are a bit of a blur, with only Judy Geeson (Mary) and Angela Scouler (Caroline) standing out. We seem to be left with a lesson that it's OK for men to sow their wild oats but women should not. Of course, most of the comedy is in the idea that Jamie never gets to do much sowing, and I honestly was sometimes confused as to whether or not his sexual adventures were successful. I had assumed that he was no longer virgin by the time he finally got to Mary, but based on the narrative's drive, he apparently was. There are songs by the Spencer Davis Group, and Traffic sings the title song. (Trivia note: Steve Winwood was in the Spencer Davis Group before he joined Traffic.) A bit of a novelty for fans of 60s cinema, but not a must-see. [TCM]

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