Flipside 015: Duffer / The Moon over the Alley

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antnield
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Flipside 015: Duffer / The Moon over the Alley

#1 Post by antnield » Sat May 29, 2010 7:46 am

Duffer + The Moon over the Alley

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BFI Flipside presents Duffer and The Moon Over the Alley, unique and utterly compelling, these rarely-seen cult films are released here for the very first time.

Duffer, an intense and bizarre study of obsession that is by turns beautiful and disturbing, tells the story of a teenage boy torn between the womanly charms of a kindly prostitute, and the sadistic attentions of an older man. Both whimsical and disturbing, with a quirky sense of the grotesque, Duffer is a film that defies easy comparison.

The Moon Over the Alley - equally unconventional - is a musical about the problems faced by the multicultural residents of a ramshackle boarding house, with magic realist musical numbers by Galt MacDermot, the award-winning musician and composer of the Broadway hit Hair. The Moon Over the Alley captures the human energy and community spirit of London's Portobello Road with a wit, strangeness and charm.

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antnield
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Re: Duffer / Moon Over the Alley

#2 Post by antnield » Thu Aug 12, 2010 7:24 am

Both of these 1970s Joseph Despins-William Dumaresq collaborations have just been classified by the BBFC suggesting releases shouldn't be too far away. A bit of info on both: Duffer review by Tony Rayns for Time Out...
A first feature by two expatriate Canadians, this tells the mock-ingenuous tale of a passably attractive lad who spends most of his life submitting to a homosexual sadist but occasionally scurries to a golden-hearted whore for relief. Duffer's account of himself in a voice-over narration starts out ultra-subversive ('I didn't much enjoy the things that Louis-Jack did to me, but they seemed to give him pleasure, and there really isn't much of that around') and gets more and more Joycean. The plot gets rather lost in musings on fantasy versus reality, but the imagery remains funny and, when needed, tough; the mood is predominantly wistful, well caught by Galt MacDermot's simple piano score.
Moon Over the Alley review by Alexander Walker (with a little mention of Jarman's Sebastiane) for the Evening Standard...
A full length musical set in London to the melodies of Galt (Hair) MacDermot. A highly original look at life on the fringe of the Roman Empire with the dialogue entirely in Latin. That's the top of this week's bill, and I'm not a bit surprised if the majorlty of readers have not heard of Moon Over the Alley or Sebastiane.

For both are what's called "independent films." They belong to the branch-line of cinema, not the main track. Both prove it's sometimes more fun, and decidedly more original, to take a trip on the former.

Moon Over the Alley somehow got the backing of the British Film Institute production fund, a body so committed to arid, doctrinaire debate that the word "entertainment" could provoke psychosomatic tremors in its members. Having financed it, the BFI then characteristically left it unshown in Britain till its makers, Joseph Despins and William Dumaresq, were driven to appeal to critics direct.

Now you can see it... It deserves immense popularity.

It's like a Bert Brecht-Kurt Weill collaboration mated with one of the more-sentimental working-class subjects that Gracie Fields used to stretch her vocal cords on. Oddly, unexpectedy, the two intentions unite in a truthful, fresh fashion that doesn't exploit the milieu, but illuminates it.

The large cast falls so naturally and immediately into the way of life that they tell us about a place as well as the people in it. Specifically, a rooming-house and the side streets around it where people's small, personal, particular problems thrust up gamely through the discouragement that daily living tries to spread over them.

There's the tart-tongued German lady who runs the lodgings; her retired husband; her perky, bright-eyed schoolboy son shyly petting with the tobacconist's daughter in a near-empty cinema (where amusingly, another BFI production board film is showing); the reclusive old man in the second-floor back with an eye for children; the American hippie in the cubby hole under the stairs; the Jamaican family in the attic; an Irish barman whose long-waiting fiancee has taken to a Soho strip-club to raise their mortgage and get her wedding ring.

Outside in the dark streets - it's largely a night-time film, photographed by Peter Hannan in lustrous black-and-white - an old street singer and her man-friend perambulate along the line of fate that at the end sees a mugging, a rape and a murder that put the prophesied "blood" on the moon, in whose rays the fortunes or mishaps of the characters wax and wane.

The German-Jewish landlady breaks into song as she listens to a breakfast-time lyric on a Pop radio station; a Spanish pub-entertainer makes an hilariously successful debut by sheer force of badness; the Jamaican mother croons to her baby; her husband and his mate find the tug of home precipitated by a mug of cocoa in Portobello Road's market stalls; a strip-club number pastiches the whole awful genre that ends with its inevitable nude can-can flourish.

MacDermot's music and Dumaresq's songs are like inlay, not overlay: they fill the blanks between the lines. But the lines are rendered with an easy, naturalness I haven't seen for ages in a British film.

Sentimental, it may be: But Moon Over the Alley isn't ever condescending, it doesn't hype the rhythms of proletarian life like Sparrers Can't Sing did. Its people are not comic stereotypes; they are people of the here and now.
Latest BFI press release confirms January 2011 release date:
The next Flipside releases will be Private Road (1971) by Barney Platts-Mills and a double bill of Duffer (Joseph Despins, William Dumaresq, 1971) / The Moon Over the Alley (Joseph Despins, 1976) in January 2011.

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RossyG
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Re: Duffer / Moon Over the Alley

#3 Post by RossyG » Thu Aug 12, 2010 9:05 am

Does that mean that the Flipsides will be coming out in twos rather than threes from now on? I hope not. I can't get enough of those Flipsides!

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antnield
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Re: Duffer / Moon Over the Alley

#4 Post by antnield » Mon Nov 22, 2010 1:02 pm


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MichaelB
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Re: Duffer / Moon Over the Alley

#5 Post by MichaelB » Tue Nov 23, 2010 6:12 am

I'm very happy to confirm that this is region-free - I've just updated the list.

Most of the other January/February Blu-rays are region-free too - the exceptions, unsurprisingly, being the Ozus.

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Re: Duffer / Moon Over the Alley

#6 Post by MichaelB » Fri Nov 26, 2010 6:27 am

It might seem strange to link to an obituary of Coil's Peter Christopherson in this particular thread, but this release of Duffer wouldn't be happening if it hadn't been for him.

He was a long-term champion of the film, and it's entirely through his advocacy that the BFI even found out about its existence in the first place - and everyone in BFI DVD Publishing is greatly saddened to hear that the man who was so excited about the prospect of seeing his favourite film released in a version that makes it look as good as new won't be around to witness the happy event.

Peter also made an invaluable contribution to the BFI's edition of Salo - The 120 Days of Sodom, for which he made a beautiful high-definition short film to accompany the Coil's Pasolini-inspired track 'Ostia'.

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antnield
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Re: Duffer / Moon Over the Alley

#7 Post by antnield » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:51 am

Cover art:

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MichaelB
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Re: Duffer / Moon Over the Alley

#8 Post by MichaelB » Thu Dec 02, 2010 1:03 pm

Full specs announced:
Three previously unavailable 1970s features out on BFI Flipside Dual Format Editions on 17 January 2011

‘Flipside is not just a dynamite DVD label, but a goldmine of great British cinema.’
Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson, Valhalla Rising)

On 17 January the critically acclaimed BFI Flipside label presents another selection of rare and little-seen features from the hidden history of British cinema – all newly mastered from film materials preserved by the BFI National Archive.

Made available in the BFI’s trademark Dual Format Editions (which include DVD and Blu- ray in the same box, for the same price as a DVD) are Barney Platts-Mills’ follow-up to Bronco Bullfrog, Private Road (1971), starring Bruce Robinson and Susan Penhaligon, and a double bill of mind-blowing films from Joseph Despins and William Dumaresq, Duffer (1971) and The Moon Over the Alley (1975).

Duffer and The Moon Over the Alley

An intense and bizarre study of obsession that is by turns lyrical and disconcerting, Duffer tells the deranged story of a teenage boy torn between the womanly charms of a kindly prostitute, and the relentless, sadistic attentions of an older man.

The Moon Over the Alley, from the writer-director team behind Duffer, explores the problems of the multicultural residents in a Notting Hill boarding house. Dark and disturbing, yet dreamlike and tender, this astonishing film includes surreal musical numbers by the award-winning composer of Hair, Galt MacDermot. It was unequivocally praised by the late Alexander Walker, legendary Evening Standard film critic, who proclaimed that ‘it deserves immense popularity’ when it was originally released.

These unique, rarely-seen films are newly mastered from prints held in the BFI National Archive and released here for the very first time.

Special features

* Both films presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition
* Illustrated booklet with newly commissioned essays by Stephen Thrower and Rob Young, and Joseph Despins’ personal recollections of making the two films

The RRP for BFI Dual Format Edition titles is £19.99.

The next Flipside releases, in April 2011, will be Lunch Hour (1961) by James Hill and Joanna (1968) by Mike Sarne.

Technical details

Duffer and The Moon Over the Alley (Flipside 015) Cat no: BFIB1083 / UK / 1971 + 1975 / Cert 15 / black and white / English language (optional hard-of-hearing subtitles) / 75 mins + 108 mins / Original aspect ratio 1.33:1
Disc 1: BD50 / 1080p / 24fps / PCM mono audio (48k/24-bit) / Region 0
Disc 2: DVD9 / PAL / PCM mono audio (320kbps) / Region 0

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MichaelB
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Re: Duffer / Moon Over the Alley

#9 Post by MichaelB » Tue Dec 07, 2010 12:42 pm

Now available for pre-order at:

Amazon.co.uk
MovieMail
Play.com

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Re: Duffer / Moon Over the Alley

#10 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:42 am


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Re: Duffer / Moon Over the Alley

#11 Post by MichaelB » Mon Jan 17, 2011 7:49 am

GScene's Michael Hootman places The Moon Over the Alley "firmly in my top ten musicals of all time".

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Re: Duffer / Moon Over the Alley

#12 Post by MichaelB » Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:13 am


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Re: Duffer / Moon Over the Alley

#13 Post by MichaelB » Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:41 am


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Re: Duffer / Moon Over the Alley

#14 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jan 25, 2011 8:45 am

Mondo Digital - "Truly a crazy counterculture pairing like no other."

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Re: Duffer / Moon Over the Alley

#15 Post by MichaelB » Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:08 am

Horrorview - "both strange and marvellously offbeat delights, and exactly the kind of unearthed treasure the Flipside label was established in order to discover and bring to our attention".

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Re: Duffer / Moon Over the Alley

#16 Post by MichaelB » Tue Feb 01, 2011 8:51 am


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Re: Duffer / Moon Over the Alley

#17 Post by MichaelB » Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:52 am

The Digital Fix:
This might represent the strangest double bill ever logically issued together in a DVD or Blu-ray release. I can't begin to think of another company in the world that would have given these two oddities a Blu-ray release.

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Re: Duffer / Moon Over the Alley

#18 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Apr 09, 2011 5:11 pm

Stephen Thrower has provided some additional material regarding Duffer on his blog to complement the booklet essay.

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