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  System, The Life's A Beach
Year: 1964
Director: Michael Winner
Stars: Oliver Reed, Jane Merrow, Barbara Ferris, Julia Foster, Harry Andrews, Ann Lynn, Guy Doleman, Andrew Ray, John Porter-Davison, Clive Colin Bowler, Iain Gregory, David Hemmings, John Alderton, Jeremy Burnham, Mark Burns, Derek Nimmo, Pauline Munro
Genre: Drama, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Every summer, the tourists flock to this seaside town and a certain type of young man arrives with them, one who is seeking to take advantage of the young women who show up there wishing for a holiday romance. These chaps are only after one thing, and it's not love, but for beach photographer Tinker (Oliver Reed) the place has become his home for the last two or three years as he braves the winters in anticipation of what the summer will bring. He has a system, of course, all the boys do, and his is to take a snap of an attractive girl then ask for her address to send it to...

Thus he has the girl's address to do with as he pleases, either to pass it on to his entourage or to use it himself. In this, one of director Michael Winner's earliest movies, the mood was more melancholy than one might expect for a day at the beach but then you cotton on to the way that many dramas of the nineteen-sixties were more keen on highlighting what a miserable time it was possible to have especially when everyone was supposed to be having fun. Oliver Reed showed up in a few of these, yet this one was an example of his budding talent for screen acting, nurtured by such equally nascent abilities of Winner.

Sadly, Reed chose to piss his talent away with a love of alcohol greater than a love for the craft of thespianism, as if he always had a slight contempt for the profession, or at least his place in it, but that edge was what made his performances so compelling, particularly when he was engaged with the character. You never knew if he was going to roll over or explode with fury, and he might do both in the space of a single scene, but it was obvious Winner had noticed the manner in which he held the audience's attention as this was one of Reed's first leading roles after a stint with Hammer, one of the then-major British studios.

He does very well here with an admittedly doleful script courtesy of Peter Draper, who would team up with Reed and Winner again for the more accomplished I'll Never Forget What's'isname three years later. In this case they make the seaside look so gloomy thanks to Nicolas Roeg's bleak photography you wonder why anyone bothered to take a trip there, unless they truly were oblivious to the scams and darker side to the goings-on. Tinker and company nickname these holidaymakers "Grockles" - it's apparently this film where that term is derived from, but they can comfortably ignore them in favour of the women who catch their eye, though we have to take into account that there's no such thing as a no strings attached affair.

Well, there wasn't in this case as Tinker sets out to impress a higher class of bird who he meets as she is taken to the resort - actually Torquay in Devon - by her father (Guy Doleman) who owns a big mansion there - cue party complete with extras doing the twist. She is Nicola (Jane Merrow) and she represents something of an aspiration for our hero, though we can see she may be attracted to him, but frankly she's slumming it and he's kidding himself if he thinks there's any future for them. Ah, but she tantalises him with the promise of meeting up again in London once the summer is over, and Reed is cool enough to make us believe he can capitalise on this stroke of luck, mainly because we never see him try to change into his swimming trunks while wearing a towel wrapped around his waist. However, he may well be heading for a sobering fall, as if Draper couldn't bring himself to write the fairy tale ending and resorted to the more "realistic" downbeat one instead. Still, interesting for what it led to. Music by Stanley Black.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Michael Winner  (1935 - 2013)

Opinionated British producer-director whose early comedies - You Must Be Joking, The Jokers, I'll Never Forget Whatsisname - were promising enough, but come the seventies he had settled into a pattern of overblown thrillers.

Of these, Death Wish was a huge hit, and Winner directed two similar sequels. Other films included horrors (The Nightcomers, The Sentinel), Westerns (Lawman, Chato's Land), thrillers (Scorpio, Dirty Weekend) and disastrous comedies (Bullseye!). Also a restaurant critic.

 
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