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DVD Review: Wind of Change (1961)


I've never heard of Wind of Change prior to this Odeon DVD release, which surprises me, as I'm pretty sure it must have been controversial at the time of release.

Set at the start of the 1960s, Wind of Change is essentially a tale of racism and although the scenery, the style and the language is very much of the era, the subject matter is still every bit as relevant today.

The 'action' revolves around a teen gang, a sort of ted, beatnik, mod hybrid if you like who hang around the coffee bars of Notting Hill, some working around Portobello Market, but the leader, Frank (Johnny Briggs, yes Mike Baldwin of Coronation Street fame) isn't currently employed. That's not his fault of course, according to Frank, the influx of immigrants into the area has taken away all the work. Indeed, according to Frank, they're even driving round in 'flash cars', hinting that it's not just in legal employ that the newly-arrived immigrant population are making their money.

One day, black youth wanders into their cafe of choice - he's chased out, but gets away. That's not enough for Frank and his gang (which also features David Hemmings as 'Ginger'). The night after, they wait in a dark alley to take their revenge on any black youth they can find - when one comes along, they give him a beating, with his girl also getting a lashing from Frank's bike chain. Little does Frank know, the boy is dead - and the girl scarred in the attack is his sister. There's certain to be fallout - and with the police being so close to home, will Frank get away with it? Or will his mouth land him in trouble.

It's an unusual film, not least because it's almost a movie of two halves - the first half dealing with the crime, the second focusing on attitudes to race in Britain in 1961. It doesn't pull punches in either half, with Frank and his mates openly racist to the black community, using language that's likely to make many squirm in the modern era. Much of the second half of the movie is back at Frank's family home - his father (Donald Pleasence) keen to see support Frank's injured sister and keen to see justice done. His mother angry that her daughter has been in a mixed-race relationship and keen to see her son avoid any police action. A snapshot of a family in an area of mass immigration of the early 60s, for better or worse.

For that reason, it's a period piece to be treasured and all told, it's actually both an entertaining and interesting movie, even if the ending is a little sudden - it's a story that could have run far in excess of the 64-minute running time. Just as well there's an extra movie on the disc.

That movie is The Traitors from 1962. It's an interesting cold war-style thriller with British and Nato agents on the hunt of the 'traitor' - the man who is passing nuclear secrets to the (then) USSR. It's slow, it's fairly low key and it's certainly a b-movie of the day. But it's also more than mildly diverting and on a rainy afternoon (which, coincidentally, is what I'm living through right now), it could be just the thing for killing an hour or so.

Two interesting period films, a pile of trailers, one disc and a price tag under £9. Well worth a punt.

Find out more at the Amazon website


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