MELODY - 1971
a classic English film
'Probably my favourite film of all time' - author Mark Baxter
Melody is a 1971 British film was released as S.W.A.L.K. in the United Kingdom (S.W.A.L.K. being a message traditionally written on the envelopes of love letters by British schoolchildren, standing for Sealed With A Loving Kiss). The film starred Jack Wild & Mark Lester, fresh from their success in Oliver, & newcomer Tracy Hyde.
Although initially a box office disappointment in both the United States and Britain it has over the years become a cult classic, for its genuinely funny story, featuring 'real' council estate kids getting up to humorous, yet somehow touching escapades matched with a fine soundtrack by a pre disco era Bee Gees.
This romantic fantasy is told through the viewpoint of the children in the story, the adults playing only supporting roles. 12 year old Daniel Latimer (Lester) befriends the troublesome Ornshaw (Wild), the lads get up to numerous scrapes in their quest to sensibly shrink away from parental & adult guidance. One day, however, the pals are split when Daniel falls in love with Melody Perkins (Hyde) and announce to friends & parents alike that they want to get married. Not sometime in the future, but now. However, the adults, parents and teachers alike try to dissuade them, Ornshaw in particular doesn't like this because he feels that Melody is taking away his friend & partner in crime. Later on, however, their classmates are determined to go ahead with their plans for the young couple. They reunite in their favourite bit of waste ground to 'marry' the couple but their parents follow them and try to stop it. The children go wild, in the course of this they manage to explode a car belonging to one of the parents, & parents & accompanying teachers find themselves fleeing from the throng. Melody and Daniel are seen escaping together in a railway handcart with Ornshaw's help.
The film captures beautifully the look & mindset of the times. The kids are dressed in a mixture of suedehead & hippy styles, the parents are also dressed in the flamboyant, trendy post Carnaby Street styles of the early 1970s. Filmed on location in Lambeth, the film captures perfectly the language, humour & life of the working classes in South London.
All actors (youngsters & adults) put in fine, believable, warm performances. As above, the kids are all excellent, & well known character actors, Keith Barron, Sheila Staefel, Ken Jones play the adult roles with wry humour.
The film is enjoyable for the feel-good factor of the plot, the fine soundtrack, & the sheer exuberance of this & many other British films of the era. Enjoy!!