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  Bicyclettes de Belsize, Les Love's Young Dream
Year: 1969
Director: Douglas Hickox
Stars: Judy Huxtable, Anthony May, Leslie Goddard, Barney Reisz
Genre: Musical, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is early morning in London, and a young man (Anthony May) is up with the lark, getting ready for the day at his job in a poster shop. He does not walk to work, he does not drive, he does not catch the bus, but he does ride a bicycle, and here he is travelling down from the roof where he lives to the streets below, unaware of what the future holds for him. For a start, he wasn't aware that in his urgency to reach his destination he would crash into a little girl (Leslie Goddard) on a tricycle, but when she sees him it's love at first sight...

Only it's not love at first sight for him, because he's not interested in little girls, indeed he is far more taken with the photograph on the poster he crashes into - he does a lot of crashing does this boy. Fortunately for his health, his collision days are over once he decides he is smitten with "Julie", as the poster calls her, and she was played by Judy Huxtable, who would perhaps be better known these days as Peter Cook's wife. She is as charming as her likeness on that billboard implies, but as with the boy, she is bereft of love, pining for something more in life than modelling.

So the film is in two minds about that poster: first, it leads the boy to the girl, but second, it's a source of much melancholy for her as she is unfulfilled by this career. Not that she ever says this out loud, for this is a musical and the only character's voice we ever hear is the young man's as he sings his way through the capital's streets. The tunes here are wistful and captivating in their "maybe Swinging London wasn't all so bad" manner, and although the film is short, barely half an hour, the melodies do stay with you such is their pleasant quality on the ear.

Assuredly, this little film has a following of those who might have caught it on its original supporting feature purpose, yet far more have seen it on television over the years on its occasional showings, and it has stuck in their minds ever since. It has a simple and romantic narrative, and this lack of complexity is much of its appeal; there is also an innocent sense of humour about it that exhibits itself in such scenes as where the little girl sets a whole bus queue blowing raspberries at each other which quickly descends into a grocery-throwing brawl. It may come across as naive now, but its utter lack of cynicism and faith that there's the right person for you out there should you care to look (or even if you don't) wins you over, and you can see why it has engaged so many. One thing, though, why the pretentious French title?
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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