Sunday, March 12, 2006

S.W.A.L.K

Sometimes when you revisit things that you enjoyed many years ago, the fond memory that you've carried inside you is shattered - and sometimes it's enhanced. A while back I tracked down a film that I'd been looking for many years, 'Sole Survivor' (that's the TV movie with William Shatner in it that used to come around on a Sunday afternoon very regularly in the 70s - a group of airmen have been killed in a plane crash in the desert and resurrected as ghosts haunting the wreckage). It didn't exactly disappoint but it wasn't quite as good as I remembered it as being.
Another film that I've carried a bit of a torch for, having seen it in school film club at the end of the 70s and never since, is 'S.W.A.L.K' - or 'Melody' if you prefer, it goes out under these two names apparently. This was a sort of romantic school drama starring Mark Lester and Jack Wild, a reunion after their success in 'Oliver'. When Jack Wild died recently (a blessed release I'd think given the state of him after years of drink and drugs and then a horrible battle with mouth cancer) I was moved to try and get another look at this one. It's really fallen off the radar, which is surprising considering its pedigree: aside from Wild and Lester it has an Alan Parker script, Waris Hussein directing and was produced by David Puttnam. Hasn't been released on any format in the UK or the US, though a Japanese DVD release has happened. Anyway, good old e-bay turned up a bootleg copy of the Japanese disc with the subtitles stripped out. Not the greatest of picture quality but very serviceable. And guess what - it's every bit as good as I remembered it. Particular highlights were Wild's performance (the way he fell to the demons was such a waste of a really sublime talent), suprisingly the Bee Gees soundtrack, and the sparkling script.
It took me back. Aside from a warm glow about the film, specifics had faded from memory (aside from a great sequence where Lester and Wild are in trouble on Latin homework: 'I never found a Roman to speak the bloody lingo to' notes Wild). But as I watched it was really 'oh remember that, remember that ...' Especially a sequence around Trafalgar Square where Lester and Wild are just revelling in being in town with time to kill, overdubbed with 'Give Your Best', a terrific Bee Gees number from before their discovery of the high notes, and a segment towards the end where Lester and Tracey Hyde as Melody bunk off school to go to Brighton and spend time on the funfair and the beach, with the same track playing. Just a really wonderful feel good movie and I so wish it was more readily available.

3 comments:

douglasman2001@yahoo.com said...

I am obsessed with this movie.
I've used ebay to get a japanese release of the DVD. (Region 2)

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