Like previous BFI Flipside titles the supplements found here have very little to do with the main feature other than they might share the same subject matter or relate to a theme or the time period of the film. All of the features are presented in 1080p.
The disc opens with a bizarre theatrical trailer that plays the film off as rather exploitive and it seems obvious that marketers for the film weren’t quite sure what to do with it. The film does have a ring of trying to show the darker side to groupie/hippy/rock/drug/sex counterculture but the trailer seems to amp it up a bit.
Next up is a short 68-minute film called Bread. It’s related somewhat to the main feature only in that it’s about a group of hippies/groupies, though this one is played more as a farce with the protagonists looking to throw their own music festival despite lacking the funds (“bread”) to put it together. Despite the nudity and some (barely) amusing moments I have to admit I found it rather terrible but it had some intriguing elements to it, specifically its move from a typical fiction narrative to documentary look when festival sequences are covered. And I guess after the darker Permissive it was a somewhat welcome lighter piece. It also looks spectacularly good, getting the same kind of loving transfer BFI have given to the main feature.
As a note the booklet points out that the original version of Bread was 85-minutes. BFI wanted to restore the full version of the film but the sound track was missing. Instead they’ve put the film together from that footage but had to use the sound from another cut, meaning sequences without sound have been cut out. But they’ve included the missing material here with 16-minutes of mute outtakes from Bread. While this footage has also been beautifully restored it’s somewhat disappointing the sound is missing since most of the footage is actually from the festival sequences, though again this is no fault of the BFI’s.
The disc features then close with a rather amusing “safe sex ed” feature called ’Ave You Got a Male Assistant Please Miss?. While it starts out in a groaning manner by going over the statistics of unwanted pregnancies and abortions it gets a little better once its male protagonist goes on a quest for a condom. It runs over 4-minutes and has been decently restored as well.
And as usual BFI have included a rather spectacular booklet (NOTE: I am actually reviewing off of a “check disc” and not a finished product. I was sent a colour photocopy of the booklet, which I understand will represent the finished product, but felt I should note this.) First is an excellent essay about Permissive by I Q Hunter going over how the film is not your typical “sexploitation film,” presenting some of the deep themes within it, as well as covering other films in the “genre.” Another essay appears, this one by Lee Dorrian on the music in the film, and then an article about the underground group Comus and their involvement with the film Permissive is also included. The section on Permissive then closes with a bio on director Londsay Shonteff. Vic Pratt then offers an interesting essay on Bread going over the musical acts found within it (and Permissive) and giving it a decent defense I must admit. It’s followed by notes on the history of the many cuts of Bread and the issues with restoring it. The booklet then concludes with a bio for Bread director Stanley A. Long and notes on ’Ave You Got a Male Assistant Please Mess?. As usual it’s a fantastic booklet covering the content of the disc thoroughly, topping even the disc supplements.
Not loaded but the disc supplements are satisfying, possibly even “cool,” despite the fact I didn’t like Bread. The booklet nicely wraps up everything, though, in the end giving a great look into the 70’s British counterculture and the music that came from it. 7/10