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DVD Review: Home Before Midnight (1978)

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We're big Pete Walker fans here, but I have to admit, I've never seen Home Before Midnight. Until now that is, as the movie has been issued for the first time on DVD by Odeon.

Home Before Midnight is one of Pete Walker's more controversial flicks in terms of subject matter, although it's dealt with in a very Pete Walker way (if you know what I mean). Mike Beresford (James Aubrey) is a successful 28-year-old lyricist for one of the big bands of the moment. He's rich, successful and cruising the highways in his Jensen Interceptor. He spots a young girl in the cafe, then gives the hitchhiker a lift home to London. Things develop and before too long, they're out on a date, spending time together and in a relationship. But there's just one thing that Ginny Wilshire (Alison Elliott) has forgot to mention to her new partner - she's just 14 years old and still at school. Not that you'll guess - the actress playing her must have been in her 20s when she took the role (thankfully).

When Mike does find out, he's shocked, but as they're both in love, neither feels able to end the relationship. So they carry on seeing each other, initially with the girl's parents' approval, who think the relationship is all about friendship. But when a TV interview spills the beans, the girl's father Harry (played by Mark Burns of A Day At The Beach fame) goes after Mike through the law, Ginny being bullied into making accusations of rape against the older man to push the case along. As the trial approaches, Mike loses all his friends, his music career and the support of his family. Will the charges be carried through or will the truth about the relationship come out?

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Home Before Midnight is a strange one to review, not least because Walker himself doesn't seem to know where he's taking it. At times, the movie is just another late 70s exploitation flick, throwing in occasional nudity, some bad rock music, a bit of romance, plenty of soft focus and more minor celebrities you can keep count of - Annie Nightingale, Mick Jagger's brother Chris, 'Diddy' David Hamilton, 'the mentalist' from Alan Partridge...the list goes on and on. And as for the band, well 'Bad Accident' are more glam rock '72 than post punk '78, every bit as laughable as the majority of the acting on show.

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But on the other hand, Home Before Midnight is pitched a serious film covering the serious issue of an older man sleeping with a younger girl. Is it a serious drama or is it a trashy exploitation movie? It's actually a bit of both - and that's not really a good mix. That's not to say it isn't a watchable film - if you can deal with the appalling soundtrack (by Jigsaw apparently) and don't mind a bit of random nudity, Home Before Midnight  is a pretty well-written movie that will keep your attention for the full 111 minutes, even if it's only to discover the final verdict and while it's easy to laugh at some of the acting, music and cheesiness of it all, that's also part of the film's appeal, even if some of it is misjudged in context.

Not one of Pete Walker's best movies, but still one to add to your collection if you happen to be a fan, especially at the £7 price point.

Find out more about the DVD at the Amazon website

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