Straight On Till Morning Movie Poster 
 

ollinson's Straight on till Morning comes on like Ken Loach directing "Poor Cow" on LSD.

It presents a kaleidoscope of psychedelic bad vibes tossed in to the kitchen sink with the washing up rooted in the mire enhanced by decades end.

Brenda (Tushingham) leaves her scouse corra street slums under the pretence of becoming pregnant, the father is one day to be found in London apparently, an idea which seems slightly misguided even this early.

Her mother Margo (Clare Kelly who plays the moody ex pat in Fuests And Soon the Darkness) pleads with her not to go and is left looking thoroughly miserable after her exit, 70s furnishings aplenty in their revelatory deco doom.

Earls Court, the girls arrival greeted nicely by title credits and a splashing of Blue Note style vibraphone with the figure of suede jacketed blonde Peter (Briant) strolling amid various realisms, other “extras” wandering, ”existing”.

He collides superbly with Brenda outside a newsagent and as she picks up her books goes inside oblivious. Plagued by memories seen in rapid flashback forged from the banter of simple consumers, he recites childlike poems in his thoughts prompted by covers of kids comics. We see these events sporadically, “goings on” with drunk older women and this custard haired wierdo enticing them upstairs accompanied moments later by screams. A complete lunatic then!

Finding work at some funk chic boutique Brenda grabs digs with fellow assistant Caroline (Wyeth) who is already going full on with Tom Bells Jimmy , a white suited pimplike guvner complete with Buzzcocks hair and shades he definitely runs this gaff.
Male assistant James Bolams got his eyes on this chick too but has all the charm of a Burnley grocer in lean times. His likely lad does get his cream after she argues with Bell at the digs and turns to him in sad rebellion at the final stages of a party.

Brenda meanwhile goes out looking for fags returning to a desolate flat with the bedroom door firmly shut behind the noisy liason.

Weve already seen desperation earlier with the lank haired misfit wandering round the streets approaching blokes at bus stops etc muttering the incredible and naïve “Hello” as they look totally perplexed.
Now creeping the grey cement works of Londons South Bank at night she weeps after finding Bolam in bed with her flatmate. Staggering through the night she finds what she thinks is a stray dog, but then catches glimpse of the owner.

Looking for his terrier “Tinker”, Peter sees her but feigns to be unaware..
She whisks the dog back with the allusion of at last meeting the right man whist delivering to his door the pet according to its ID pendant.

Bathing her complete with ribbon is exactly the wrong idea, it portrays beauty and owner Briant as we have seen is definately one short of a six pack and loathes anything of the sort. This saucepan eyed basket case answers the door with curls cascading down adorning his sleek Bowie like frame, MGBGT softtop motor parked. Huge collars completing the essential 70s cat, insanity part of the main package of course.

She returns the dog and he invites her in.

His pad is a wonderfully coloured stain glassed open plan art den, untidy yet graced with a spiral staircase and furry rug to boot.

Here Brenda is alarmed when he clocks the intention behind her visit, she tearfully explains her tragic idea surrounding pregnancy but is amazed when he agrees as long as she cooks, cleans and generally looks after him.

“We shall see” he offers!,

"yeah right!!" We think

She is to be called “Wendy” and its this scene when they initially connect that shows both these characters as utter fruitcakes, a joyous interaction between the actors.
The limited script is at times painfully basic but somehow serves to enhance the above, pitting the occasionally thick airhead Tushingham against the rude arrogant bastard that is Briant,… most enjoyable.

The guy doesn’t work and lives off stacks of lolly stuffed in his kitchen drawers, hes already killed the dog with a Stanley knife telling her that it run away, nice bloke.

Meanwhile mother is in town, in London looking for Brenda but gets no joy from her recent flatmate, informing her that she’s moved on. She continues her search.

Caroline then gets inquisitive and follows the trail herself finding the dogs lead left behind in the bathroom , the pendant, the address and so the home of the glorious nutter.

Meanwhile back at the flat the two are hitting it off, for him she epitomises all that is “not” in his eyes attractive and beautiful, she alternately clings to him as her saviour whilst harbouring some apprehension surely at his increasingly strange behaviour.

Anyway off Brenda goes to have a makeover whilst Peter gets down to business with the rather lovely flatmate whos turned up just after she leaves, she too is stanleyed upstairs with the action being audio taped for extra playback for his more ambient like moments.

Tushingham appears from the salon looking like a bloke tryin to do a glam transvestites job with regards to Mary Whitehouse. Superb this, as she struts down the street in a diabolical wig set to the increasingly enjoyable soundtrack.

When Peter sees the attempt at beauty he is mortified “Why, Wendy?”
and in a moving scene wipes the lipstick away as they both break down in tears.
They later end up in bed. Excellent stuff.

The word on the street though is the whereabouts of missing girls, photos of Caroline and Brenda are passed to the public by police aided by Mum and Bell.

Briant sees the papers and subsequently forbids her from leaving, he is becoming edgy and we get the sense that the games up for this cruel sod. Meanwhile our girl suffers a bout of morning sickness, the kitchen sink used as nausea bag.

Soon enough he agrees to let her out but only after he presents her with a gift, a surprise that awaits in his room and the culmination of an affair and the films pretences.

Could it be something in addition to the new crib he has already invested for their future child.

A hypocritical ornament surely, or have they saved each other from their own personal madness?

Upstairs and enters, standing in his room she is played his tape recordings of first the echoing yelps of the canine and then the goings on surrounding Caroline’s vicious slaying. Outside by the staircase a petrified figure sits as his crimes are unearthed.

Rigid and screaming in horror to turn it off, the tape finally ends and in he walks, his face genuinely shameful as tears cascade, he turns to face Brenda who is as gutted as he seems to be.

”Don’t leave me” he pleads... ”We’ll stay for ever”

she hurtles downstairs but the doors are all locked.
Briant descends the spirals slowly.

A long shot of the modish but desolate grey mewes, with the white MG parked wraps up this most tragic downer of a film, somewhere though amongst all the desperation there is a quite engaging love story to be found all be it admittedly warped, lost in the brutalities of this psychological thriller.

Straight On Till Morning oozes of retro cool offering I think some great acting. Collinsons film it has been said reflects his own traumatic youth, thus containing some explanation perhaps for the overriding bleak tone. This wonderful but heavy going film deserves more accolades than Tushingham herself gave the movie in her commentary on the dvd.

I disagree Rita, it needs to be seen again …and again.

Don't forget that Straight On Till Morning is now available to order on Widescreen DVD using our special 70s search device... [See DVD section or click here for more details]
Written By: Nik Allen [Contact]

Lets get one thing straight, what a film but rather bleak, unsettling at times. If emotional highs and light hearted yarns are your bag and you want blightys past ambience then go watch “Melody”.

“Straight on” is one hell of an experience though and can be seen in another light, with its constant cutting and rapid editing job it can meddle with the senses if you let it and draws you in on the sly.

Expertly acted by the two leads it has much to make a song and dance about.
The Elstree sets which reek of a decade gone by, a country, a city and fashion statements still fresh, all this and a wonderful no cop out ending. Say no more.

Here we have a love story based around fairytale amidst horrific tension, of atmospheric doom setting in at the finale’of the 60s, it seems to portray swinging Londons awakenings but was made in winter 71 somehow locked in a time capsule in- between two decades.

Maybe this is what gives it that feel, the camera work for its day surprises, an emotional mood summing up a misplaced childhood perhaps. The directors past had him left alone to face the world. He resented this and strove for success eventually coming under the wing of the great Noel Coward at RADA “The Master” who would appear in his well known Caine vehicle “The Italian Job”in 69.

With Hammer heading for fresh territory, new man at the helm Michael Carreras looked to talented directors to offer a Hitchcock style ”women in peril” strain of pictures. With Sangsters “Fear in the Night” and the directors own “Fright” their was no shortage for a while.

The role of curtain haired duckling Brenda was centred around Tushingham who, known primarily for “kitchen sink” was in need of something strong as the decade turned. Shane Briant who I think is excellent here was being groomed as the new starlet of Hammer hopefully to follow the path of Cushing.
Also Annie Ross who has a small part in the film would voice the theme song which was actually entered into the British charts at the time, a desolate tune for a Sunday afternoon I would say.

Tom Bell who is rather underused added yet another quality stamp and is suitably arrogant, though not in Briant’s league and heavenly chick Katya Wyeth is impressively retro enough to enforce the need for a resurgence in headbands.

Straight on till Morning has a tendency to grow on you the more it is watched, use of rapid cut away shots to highlight mood and alienate are top notch, shots of the couple seemingly in harmony wandering free in wooded areas as the police and mum close in are rather evocative.

At one together, happy but both lost in their private asylums, the final five minutes confirms this as Peter breaks down and finally surrenders to his warped theory of freelove.

We can indulge in its downbeat ambience and enjoy what we love about thrillers and the horror genre whilst caring for the characters and noting the fashion that remains today.

Seen through ironic eyes the naivety is obvious but Its qualities are laid bare by the passing of time.
Making judgements purely based on “date” seem botched now, these retro years can only enlighten and refresh whilst at times making a nonsense of millennium trash.

My overview is by no means an attempt to portray this film as spoof but to wallow in the wondrous fashions, speech, and its sheer gutsy approach.
To see in a parallel contradicting light is most envigorating and really pulls the essence from the veiled shell in which these films hide.

I would go as far as saying that its one of the best hammer films, certainly my favourite it can inspire with its limited script and educate as to how simplistic virtues of
conversation can ring true.

Throw some imagination in to accelerate the power of the above and it works, the Peter Pan metaphors are ingenious “ Peter, Wendy” the dog “Tinker” and the constant alluding to a place where they can live happy together in his twilight world of insanity, “Never, Never Land”

Nice experimental visuals also, an example being Briants tear drenched face shown in a mirrors distorted edges comes over as three versions of image, a fractured portrait which nods perhaps toward the psychological structure of the mans pathology.

Unintentionally hilarious at times yet horrific it can be moving with moments of unashamed tenderness, what makes it essential is that it takes its themes and throws them in our face without the need for explanation resulting in a film of some intensity however unpleasant.

“Ive got no time for what people call personal cinema”, Collinson would add in 67.
“I don’t feel I have the right to impose my personal ideas on the public, I like to disappear in my pictures”.

Although here we are presented the opportunity to personalise ourselves with the characters, this soon fades as they disappear into madness.


Rewind Factor: 9.2

The film opened to poor box office returns. Released on a double bill with Jimmy Sangsters “Fear in the Night” in October 72.

Shane Briant is an author and now lives in Australia. He was under contract for Hammer and had followed his film Demons of the Mind with “Straight”

The part of Brenda was especially written for Rita Tushingham,
John Peacock visited her house in Cornwall and they together went through the evolving screenplay and her part.

Filming began in Earls Court London just down the road from where Rita was living.

John Clive from Clockwork Orange played the newsagent at the beginning.

Do you know some Straight On Till Morning trivia that we could add? [Please send it in]


Made on location in Earls Court, London and using the soundstages of EMI Elstree studios.

London's South Bank complex, in the bit where she steals the dog. [Thanks to Daniel]

Can you help? Do you know any of the London, UK filming locations used for Straight On Till Morning? [Please send them in]

Straight On Till Morning DVD  Straight On Till Morning on DVD?
 
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[USA or Region 1 DVD]
[16:9 -Widescreen Enhanced][MONO]Trailer, Commentary, Notes, Score
Our Comments: good commentary
[UK / Europe or Region 2 DVD]
[NOT Widescreen]
[MONO]
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Our Comments: ---
 
Straight On Till Morning Soundtrack

Jazz singer Annie Ross sung the theme tune and would substitute the voice of Britt Ekland in The Wicker Man 73 and also a vocal for the excellent Lazar film Vampyres .

The nice jazz track and incidental music serve to disorientate further. Although I don’t believe its available to buy on re-issue it may be found on vinyl.

If you like the sound of the vibes score then I would say to invest in Blue Note 70s artist Bobby Hutcherson.

Soundtrack Available: Unknown

 


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"A Love story from Hammer"

 
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An innocent in a town of evil
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A lamb to the slaughter
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"You're beautiful"
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The guv'nor

Straight On Till Morning Movie Details
Year:
1972
Studio:
Hammer
Director:
Peter Collinson
Starring:
Rita Tushingham, James Bolam, Shane Briant, Annie Ross, Tom Bell, Clare Kelly, Katya Wyeth
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Genre:
Horror
  
+
The film is as intense as it is risible, but contains some excellent performances.
-
Could be considered a real downer...

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Informative guide to hammer films

Modculture.com
Excellent and unusual , good site geared towards mod brit films and nods to tushingham career.


 

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Straight On Till Morning and all movie images are ©1972 Hammer.
All original content is ©1999, 2007 Fast Rewind WebSites. Page Written By: Nik Allen