Tuesday, November 13, 2007

possibly the worst british film ever

Bruce Beresford's Side by Side is a 1975 comedy about two clubs, the Golden Nugget and Sound City. The first is owned by Max Nugget (Terry Thomas) who is both contemptuous of and dependent on his nephew Rodney (Barry Humphries), and the second by Gary (Billy Boyle). When it is discovered that the borough of Sludgley can only have one 'clubbe', the magistrate gives Inspector Crumb (Frank Thornton) the job of deciding which of the two clubs will have to close.

Naturally Gary gets on his motorbike and rides to London to find some new rock acts to book for the club. And equally naturally Max calls his niece Julia who works in a booking agency called Three Rs (rock 'n' roll representation). She is also apparently making an album at Abacus studio in her lunch break. Gary turns up at Three Rs as well and by grim coincidence becomes friendly with Julia, to the extent that before the end of the day he's telling her he loves to kiss girls' necks. He also tells her he can get a comedian to play at her uncle's club, though at this point he doesn't know that her uncle is his sworn arch-enemy Max Nugget. She plays him a video of Fox performing their second single 'Imagine Me Imagine You', and by the time it's over they have apparently gone off to root. The next morning, they try to eat food at Biba's but when Gary discovers that Julia's Max Nugget's niece he throws a cream pie at famous comedian Joe Baker and runs out of the shop, just runs out.

Meanwhile no-one really knows what to do at the Golden Nugget but there is a woman called Violet, who just hangs around with no real purpose except to lavish attention on Rodney, who she adores passionately but who can't bear to be touched. She keeps trying to ravish him.

The film is full of people putting paste on posters, from enormous glue pots, which they then only seem to stick out the front of their respective venues. Sound City is full of kids, presumably bored young foxy kids, who help out. Julia has booked all the hot young bands for the best show ever, and these bands are Hello (who we have already seen performing 'Bend me shape me' and who Wikipedia informs us had a drummer, Jeff Allen, who was actually born Jeffrey Allen) and Desmond Dekker (he sings 'Israelites'. I notice that in Peter Coleman's book about Bruce Beresford's career he says that some of the songs in the film were hits. He doesn't actually say that they were hits because they were in the film, but I reckon there's an implication of that. 'Israelites' was a hit in 1968.

Then the two clubs put on the shows, and there is a riot for no apparent reason but it does involve cream pies, including one in the face of Joe Baker, who I forgot to tell you is performing at the Golden Nugget, and who does a very, very short act about pneumatic drills. In the conflagration the walls are smashed in and so there is now one club, Julia and Gary get back together and someone sings a song. Violet does a striptease as Madame Lash and whips Rodney, curing him both of his hayfever and his asexuality. At almost the end there is a caption on the screen to say:

'The clubs were renamed GOLDEN CITY and are now the centre of Sludgely's cultural life'.


Rodney: 'Who else do you know who isn't dead or Australian?'
Max: 'What's the difference?'

Rodney: 'I think I will have that massage after all, Violet, I do feel a little stiffness.'

One of the places named amongst the locations is 'Sludgely'

Max Nugget reels off a short list of all the 'greats' he knew in his day, including 'Terry-Thomas'.

I wanted to see this film because:

(1) everyone who has seen it derides it. Coleman says Beresford did it for money and because, after the Barry McKenzie films, it was hard for him to get work.

(2) I thought it would have some good things about gentrification, performance spaces etc

(3) I thought Noosha Fox had a role in it

Now I can say with confidence to (1), it's justifiably derided (2) nah (3) nuh-uh.

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