The Movie Waffler Blu-Ray Review - TAKE A GIRL LIKE YOU (1970) | The Movie Waffler

Blu-Ray Review - TAKE A GIRL LIKE YOU (1970)

take a girl like you review
Having moved to lodgings outside London, a young woman finds herself the object of the lustful attentions of several men.

Review by Jason Abbey

Directed by: Jonathan Miller

Starring: Hayley Mills, Oliver Reed, Noel Harrison, John Bird, Sheila Hancock

take a girl like you bluray powerhouse

Based on the 1960 Kingsley Amis novel, this film version comes with some pedigree talent behind and in front of the camera. But it neither succeeds as a frothy sexual comedy or as a eulogy for the death of the swinging '60s. More insightful in its moments of quiet desperation than its more outwardly comedic episodes, this is something of a curate’s egg.

Intriguing that both director Jonathan Miller and screenwriter George Melly are artists more renowned for their polymath knowledge in other media. Their credentials in academia and the music scene should have held them in good stead. As a film it resolutely refuses to gel.

take a girl like you review

Jenny (Hayley Mills) is a northern lass who has relocated just outside London, renting a room from Labour MP Dick Thompson (John Bird) and his wife Mary (Sheila Hancock). She soon becomes the focus of attention of leonine Patrick (Oliver Reed), a priapic teacher who has moved his target from one of the Thompsons' lodgers to Jenny. Patrick is a strutting sexual cockerel who has bitten off more than he can chew when he discovers Jenny is a virgin who is not so easily going to be lured into bed by his charms. Matters are further complicated when indecently wealthy lounge lizard Julian (Noel Harrison) inveigles his way onto the scene, offering decadence (well, a salad and some wine) and riches (a posh manor house).

It’s a nifty enough premise, if somewhat hackneyed to a modern audience, although the key decision to set it outside London denudes the film of the hypnotic glamour of the big city. This is a town of middle of the road restaurants and pubs that look like they would give a Harvester a run for naffness. Reed is well cast as the sexually magnetic and frustrated Patrick, the definition of a big fish in a small pond, used to having his way but not so sophisticated that he is not entranced by the meretricious trappings of micro celebrity that Julian offers.

take a girl like you review

Mills is also winsome enough; never depicted as a shrill virgin, she is a believable human being in her own right who has just somehow never plunged into carnal activity. She is still a woman of yearnings and desire and a match for Reed.

As a director, Miller just never seems to find his register. As a romantic comedy, Take a Girl Like You never catches light. The badinage between the leads is somewhat tired, and for all his angst you never feel that Jenny has truly gotten under Patrick's skin. He too easily gets off with other women, more to complicate the plot than for any real lust. His obsession with Jenny never really takes fire until the - ahem! - climax.

take a girl like you review

Of more interest is the marriage of Dick and Mary, a couple living in quiet desperation, running down the clock of a relationship that has long since grown stagnant. Mary's quiet lascivious glances hint at a relationship with Patrick that may have hit the cutting room floor. Dick is a man who feels the world has passed him by, reduced to drunken pawing at any female lodgers who happen to be available at the time. In one of the film's queasier scenes he drunkenly assaults Jenny, who accuses him of attempted rape only to be shut down by his weary wife, all too aware of his dismal failings. A bolder film would have focussed on how a movement that enabled freedom of expression, both sexually and artistically, left the previous post war generation out of its excesses, leaving frustration and bitterness behind.

Neither having the light-hearted visual froth of early Richard Lester or mining the seam of misogyny and pain that runs throughout the original Alfie, this is a film that feels slightly out of sync with the times, a work of old men trying to work out what it is to be young and in the main failing to grasp the excitement of lust and the comedown of reality in small-town South-East England.

Another good-looking disc from Powerhouse, with a smattering of contemporary interviews with Hayley Mills, production manager Denis Johnson and Assistant Director Joe Marks, relatively light hearted with some choice anecdotes about the parsimony and possible mob connections of Producer Hal E. Chester and working with Oliver Reed. There is also a substantial interview with Jonathan Miller from 1967 that has nothing to do with the film but talks in detail about censorship and Bonnie and Clyde in an interesting and slightly pompous style. Add a trailer and picture gallery as well as an isolated and music and effects track, and you have a selection of extras worth viewing but which do nothing to deepen the understanding of the actual film.

The first pressing of the disc also comes with a booklet featuring essays from Melanie Williams and an interview with Kingsley Amis that help to contextualise the film more than the extras on the disc. There is also a look at the critical reception to the film at the time of release.

Take a Girl Like You is on blu-ray now from Powerhouse Indicator.