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  West End Jungle West End Girls
Year: 1961
Director: Arnold L. Miller
Stars: David Gell, Heather Russell, Tom Bowman, Peter Baker, Andrea Lawrence, Dennis Cleary, David Grey, Marcel de Villiers, George McGrath, Mavis Hoffman, Pamela Rees, Roy Denton, Lawrence Hepworth
Genre: Documentary, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Before 1959, London's streets were a different place indeed thanks to the prevalence of prostitutes there: out of a population of eight million people, ten thousand were women taking money for sex. The oldest profession had done well out of lax laws allowing them to ply their trade with only the threat of an occasional forty shilling fine over their heads, but now things have changed. Thanks to the new laws about streetwalkers, men looking for sex have to be drawn in by other means, and this film will expose them...

West End Jungle had the special place in history for being the first foray into filmmaking for British exploitation specialist Stanley A. Long, who not only produced this but wrote the script as well. Although very tame by today's standards, this ended up being banned in the U.K. for its frank discussion of prostitution and the fact that it purported to show actual ladies of the night attempting to drum up business - it didn't, as all the scenes were staged. Now it is freely available, but we can see that it took a sanctimonious tone familiar from later pseudo-documentaries, sometimes from the same team who brought us this.

Funnily enough, although it must have promised punters a glimpse of naked bodies, here they would have been better off visiting one of the nudist films playing elsewhere at the time (Long and his director here, Arnold L. Miller perpretrated a few of those too) as a few strippers not taking it all off were about the best they were prepared to offer. Otherwise, there was just under an hour of finger-wagging, not at the audiences wanting to watch this for cheap thrills, but at the women who sell their bodies as the main message here seemed to be: watch out, chaps! These girls are out to get you at any cost!

Never mind that if it wasn't for the men supplying the money to these women, and the men putting them up to it in the first place, there wouldn't be such a problem anyway. Undeterred by this hypocrisy, the filmmakers plough on with their run through every way they can think of to illustrate how a randy fool and his money are soon parted. These clients are frequently referred to as "suckers" and "mugs", and we are left in no doubt as to how degrading their desperation is, but mostly to themselves. There are those who visit night clubs and end up buying, er, blackcurrant juice by the pint if it means they have female company for the evening, only to be thrown out when they run out of cash.

Then there are those who prefer to carry out their business behind closed doors, such as the photographer who goes to see a "model", not to take her picture, but to get a look at her naked; to say the film lays it on thick about these women's lack of class is an understatement. Then there are the supposedly respectable businessmen who receive prostitutes' attention as a perk of their job, or the gent about town who spots a massage parlour's card in the back seat of the taxi he's riding in and instructs the driver to head over there - but it's not just a massage he's after! This might have been shocking in 1961, but nowadays West End Jungle merely enjoys faint historical value as the sneering tone of the narrator begins to grate early on and doesn't improve the further the film goes on, rendering it a tiresome watch.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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