Monday, October 3, 2022
Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (1968)
Jamie (Barry Evans) just doesn’t seem to have any success with girls. He tries really hard but something always goes wrong. We assume that he’s around eighteen (he’s still at school) and he’s as obsessed about sex as any other normal teenaged male.
It’s not that girls dislike him. It’s just that the girls he wants seem to be more attracted to other men, and the girls who do like him don’t appeal to him.
He could probably get Linda but she’s too scatterbrained for his tastes. The girl he really wants is Mary (Judy Geeson). Mary is gorgeous and she has class. Unfortunately she also has rich young men pursuing her and she’s a bit out of Jamie’s league.
In desperation he joins a church group where there’s a girl who seems to be quite attracted to him but it all ends in embarrassment rather than the passion he dreams of.
There’s also Audrey, but he’s still pining for Mary.
Then he runs into Mary again. He figures he doesn’t have a chance but he might as well give it a try.
Does Jamie eventually get what he wants? Well, in a way, but maybe it wasn’t quite what he wanted after all.
This is a very 1960s movie, in fact it’s very much a Swinging 60s movie. The Richard Lester influence is very clear. There’s pop music (provided by the Spencer Davis Group and Traffic, both pretty big bands at the time), there are fantasy sequences, everything is bright and colourful and there’s just a slight avant-garde vibe (and a definite Richard Lester influence). The fourth wall isn’t just broken occasionally, it’s never there at all. Jamie spends the entire film speaking directly to the audience.
This is a kind of precursor to the British sex comedies of the 70s (a much despised genre that is nowhere near as bad as pompous critics would lead you to believe). Had it been made just a few years later there would have been copious amounts of nudity but in 1968 British film censorship was still ludicrously draconian. And even a rather tame movie such as this ran into trouble with the censors (they were particular upset by Judy Geeson's nude scene which is possibly the sweetest most tasteful nude scene you'll ever see). This movie is tame, but the tone is definitely somewhat similar to that of those 70s sex comedies.
At 23 Barry Evans was, on paper, much too old to play Jamie but Evans always had that baby-faced look and he gets away with it. And he’s pretty good - he never makes Jamie seem obnoxious or overly self-pitying or pathetic. Jamie is a nice lad and he treats girls decently and we hope he succeeds in his quest to get laid.
Judy Geeson was 18 at the time, stunning and already an accomplished and experienced actress. She’s always worth watching and she handles her rôle with considerable aplomb. On the whole the acting is extremely good. Special mention must be made of Angela Scoular who is an absolute delight as the wildly eccentric Caroline.
This movie is the absolute antithesis of the British New Wave with its emphasis on misery and hopelessness. The teenagers in Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush are not doomed. They’re looking forward to the future. They believe they have a good chance in life and they’re correct. Jamie will be going to university when he leaves school, as will many of his friends. The movie was shot in Stevenage, one of the notorious New Towns, and while it’s a bit soulless and antiseptic it’s also clean, bright and cheerful.
After its moderately successful theatrical release this movie simply vanished until the BFI released it as a Blu-Ray/DVD combo. It’s a lovely transfer. As usual the BFI has thrown in a couple of short films from the period as extras. The Blu-Ray includes both the uncut version and the version that was butchered by the puritanical British censors.
Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush is a fascinating late 60s time capsule and it’s enjoyable in a totally innocuous way. I liked it. Recommended.