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Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush

Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush(1968)


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Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush (1968)

Of all of the films to emerge from the "Swinging London" film phenomenon of the sixties, Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (1967) has remained one of the more difficult films to see due to its unavailability on any format. Though not as well known as some of its contemporaries such as A Hard Day's Night [1964], Blow-up [1966] or Performance [1970], the movie, based on Hunter Davies' first novel (he also adapted the screenplay) is a giddy, high-spirited time capsule of its era, popping with day-glo colors, groovy fashions, British slang and playful cinematic techniques influenced by Richard Lester's Beatles films such as speeded up motion, still frames, and the breaking of the fourth wall; the protagonist, Jamie McGregor (Barry Evans), constantly addresses the viewer in the manner of a confessional.

The entire movie is set in and around "Newtown" (Stevenage in Hertfordshire), an antiseptic, modern suburb of London, where Jamie lives, works (as a delivery boy and stock clerk at a grocery) and goes to school. There is only one thing on Jamie's mind - SEX - and the entire storyline is devoted to his pursuit of losing his virginity. Although Jamie's go-getter attitude suggests he's an Alfie in the making, he's much less successful when it comes to actual conquests and the movie chronicles one sexual misadventure after another, each one played for laughs, with Jamie coming close to but never succeeding in his quest. In fact, the entire movie is one long, unconsummated tease that withholds Jamie's pleasure until the final act; it's a comic exercise in sexual frustration similar in tone to Michel Deville's Benjamin (1968) from the same period in which the title character (Pierre Clementi) is continually interrupted in his attempts at lovemaking. When Jamie finally hooks up with his dream girl, Mary (Judy Geeson), he is shocked to discover she is as sexually adventurous and independent as he aspires to be but the film, directed by Clive Donner, doesn't treat this revelation with irony but instead imposes a moralistic ending on the movie that only reinforces Jamie's chauvinistic attitudes (as well as those of the male-dominated film industry at the time) - Good girls don't have premarital sex and aren't promiscuous.

Donner, whose earlier films The Caretaker [1963], based on the Harold Pinter play, and Nothing But the Best [1964], had been well received by the critics, is clearly aiming for a more commercial, youth-oriented film with Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, but the result is a mixed message farce with a hip, pop art veneer, the swinging London sounds of The Spencer Davis Group and Traffic, and a stuffy bourgeois sensibility underneath it all, which makes the occasional nude scenes appear all the more voyeuristic. The film actually ran into censorship trouble in England and the au natural swimming sequence with Barry Evans and Judy Geeson was excised from the film. (TCM Underground will be showing the complete, uncut version).

Not surprisingly, most critics at the time treated Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush as an unexceptional sex comedy for teenagers. Typical of the general reaction was Hollis Alpert in Saturday Review who wrote "The film for all its lighthearted cheerfulness, does not amount to much." Still, the movie holds up much better today than many of its contemporaries and is always visually engaging with occasional moments of sharp satire (Jamie's claustrophobic home life with his parents and brother) and hilarious off-color humor (Jamie's mom inspecting his underwear in the presence of a girlfriend). Whether intentional or not, the film's setting with its drab uniform housing developments and lack of green space adds another layer of desperation to Jamie's situation and despite the surface gaiety, the stark reality beneath is just as depressing as a Ken Loach film such as Family Life (1971).

Barry Evans, in his film debut, makes an animated, cheeky protagonist who may occasionally remind you of the young Albert Finney in Tom Jones (1963) in some of his facial expressions and mannerisms. It was a promising showcase for the young actor but it didn't lead to a successful film career and Evans is mostly known today for his work in two popular British television shows, Doctor in the House [1969-1970] and Mind Your Language [1977-1979]. The cause of his untimely death at the age of 53 in his rundown bungalow has never been confirmed as either a homicide or an alcohol-related home accident but rumors of both have persisted since Evans died in 1997.

The other leading players in Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush - the various "birds" who are pursued by Jamie - includes Judy Geeson who is a complete knockout and the most fleshed-out character; the rest - Angela Scoular, Sheila White, Adrienne Posta, Vanessa Howard and Diane Keen - function as eye candy and obstacles to Jamie's sexual education. The real scene stealer in the film is Denholm Elliott as a decadent aristocrat with a wine fetish who finds a captive audience in Jamie during his weekend visit to see his daughter.

Producer: Clive Donner, Larry Kramer
Director: Clive Donner
Screenplay: Hunter Davies, based on his novel
Cinematography: Alex Thomson
Film Editing: Fergus McDonell
Art Direction: Brian Eatwell
Costume Design: Sandy Moss
Cast: Barry Evans (Jamie McGregor), Judy Geeson (Mary), Angela Scoular (Caroline), Sheila White (Paula), Adrienne Posta (Linda), Vanessa Howard (Audrey), Diane Keen (Claire), Maxine Audley (Mrs. Beauchamp), Denholm Elliott (Mr. Beauchamp), Christopher Timothy (Spike).
C-96m. Closed captioning.

by Jeff Stafford

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Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush (1968)

Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush was shot on location in Stevenage in Hertfordshire, even though it is often classified as an example of "Swinging London" cinema from the sixties. The reason it wasn't actually filmed in London was because the daily crew fee would have been much higher and unaffordable.

The church rave scene with The Spencer Davis Group in the movie takes place at Bowes Lyon, an actual music club in Stevenage where The Who once played in 1965.

At the time of filming Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush singer/songwriter and multi-talented musician Steve Winwood was performing with both The Spencer Davis Group and Traffic, both of whom are featured on the film's soundtrack which was released in November of 1967. The Spencer Davis Group had just released the single "I'm a Man," which became a huge pop hit. In December Traffic released its first album "Mr. Fantasy" and in March Winwood officially left The Spencer Davis Group for Traffic.

Author Hunter Davies, who also penned the screenplay for Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, was disappointed that the film wasn't set in his native Carlisle. He also had to tone down the British cultural references and local slang because the distributor didn't want to jeopardize their box office potential in the American market.

by Jeff Stafford


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Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush (1968)

Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush was based on a novel of the same name by Scottish author Hunter Davies which was first published in 1965. Davies was also hired to pen the screenplay adaptation of his novel for director Clive Donner.

Davies is probably best known for his 1968 biography The Beatles which was approved by Brian Epstein, the group's manager at the time. Davies is also the author of The Glory Game (1972), which is generally regarded as one of the best books ever written about football. Today Davies continues to write about football and other sports in his weekly column for the New Statesman.

Clive Donner began his film career as an editor on the 1944 film On Approval and then moved into directing, first in television in 1951 on the Hallmark Hall of Fame, and then in motion pictures with the 1962 feature, Some People featuring David Hemmings in a story about three bikers who form a rock 'n' roll band.

Donner made Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush after he completed the Peter Sellers-Peter O'Toole comedy, What's New, Pussycat? (1965). Most film critics feel that his best work has been The Caretaker (1963), an adaptation of the Harold Pinter play which won the special prize at the Berlin International Film Festival, Nothing But the Best (1964) starring Alan Bates, and Rogue Male (1976), a made-for-TV feature with Peter O'Toole that won a BAFTA award (British Academy of Film & Television Arts) and was a remake of Fritz Lang's 1941 thriller Man Hunt.

Donner co-produced Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush with writer Larry Kramer who also provided some additional dialogue. Kramer is best known as the author of the play The Normal Heart and founded the AIDS advocacy group, ACT UP, in 1987. Kramer also wrote the screenplays for Ken Russell's Women in Love (1969) and the 1973 megabomb musical remake of Lost Horizon.

Cinematographer Alex Thomson had only shot one film prior to Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush - the Israeli comedy Ervinka (1967) - but this was an excellent showcase for his craft and led to a highly successful film career. In addition to receiving an Oscar® nomination for his work on Excalibur [1981] and British Film award nominations for Eureka [1984], Legend [1985] and Hamlet [1996], he has also lensed Labyrinth [1986], The Krays [1990] and Black Beauty [1994] to list a few.

Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush was a promising and highly appealing screen debut for actor Barry Evans who plays Jamie, the skirt-chasing grocery clerk. Unfortunately, his film career never progressed beyond a few roles such as Ingild in Clive Donner's period epic Alfred the Great (1969) and Eli Frome in Pete Walker's 1971 thriller, Die Screaming, Marianne.

Instead, Evans became a television star during the seventies, first appearing in the popular Doctor in the House series as Michael Upton and then repeating that same character in the Doctor at Large series that followed. His last major success was in the TV series Mind Your Language (1977-1979).

After Evans appeared in the TV series Emery Presents: Legacy of Murder (1982), he didn't receive any more job offers and to support himself he became a minicab driver in Leicestershire. He did return to the screen one more time in 1993 with a supporting role in the remake of Charles Dickens' The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Evans died on February 10, 1997 at his bungalow in Claybrooke Magna, Leicestershire. He was only 53 years old and the cause of his death has never been confirmed. According to the information at "His death...was attributed by the British alcohol consumption, but there were mysterious circumstances, which they failed to mention to the public. He was fully laid out on the sofa, when police found his body. They had come to inform him that they had found his stolen J-Reg Montego car, and he (Barry Evans) had previously reported that there had been a burglary at his home, and quite a few items were missing. Barry Evans had also made a call to a friend at 5 am in the morning, and had been very upset. The autopsy revealed that he had died of a blow to his head besides the high alcohol content in his blood - perhaps a Homicide."

Except for the obscure 1963 drama Wings of Mystery, Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush was Judy Geeson's first major film role. She had appeared in various British television programs prior to that but the Clive Donner film gave her wide exposure that led to her casting opposite Sidney Poitier in To Sir, with Love and the Joan Crawford horror thriller, Berserk! (both 1967).

For a brief period of time, Geeson looked as if she might be the next "Julie Christie." She received critical acclaim for several of her performances in such dramatic fare as Peter Hall's Three Into Two Won't Go [1969] with Rod Steiger and Claire Bloom, Ted Kotcheff's Two Gentlemen Sharing [1969], One of Those Things [1971], an offbeat melodrama filmed in Denmark with a British cast, and Richard Fleisher's disturbing account of serial killer John Christie, 10 Rillington Place (1971), which co-starred Richard Attenborough and John Hurt. Unfortunately, due to either limited opportunities or unlucky career decisions, the actress ended up accepting roles in B-movie genre films and sex comedies such as Percy's Progress [1974], Adventures of a Taxi Driver [1976], and Inseminoid [1981]. Beginning in the late seventies and continuing to the present, she began to concentrate more on television work and less on motion pictures.

Geeson was briefly married to Kristoffer Tabori, the son of director Don Siegel and actress Viveca Lindfors. She currently lives in Los Angeles where she runs an antique store called Blanche. In recent years she appeared at a revival screening of Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush when it was shown at the Egyptian Theatre as part of the Hollywood Cinematique's regular programming.

Angela Scoular, who plays Caroline in Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, divided her time between television work and moviemaking for most of her career though none of her film roles resulted in a breakout hit. She did appear in a number of major films but only in minor supporting roles such as A Countess from Hong Kong [1967], directed by Charlie Chaplin, Casino Royale [1967], On Her Majesty's Secret Service [1969] and The Adventurers [1970], based on the Harold Robbins bestseller.

Adrienne Posta, cast in the role of Linda in Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, appeared in several popular British films of the late sixties and early seventies - To Sir, with Love, Up the Junction [1968], Some Girls Do [1969] and Spring and Port Wine [1970] - before concentrating on television work in later years.

It was in the role of Audrey in Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush that Vanessa Howard made her film debut. Her brief movie career included such cult horror favorites as The Blood Beast Terror [1968], Corruption [1968], the black comedy Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny and Girly [1969] and What Became of Jack and Jill? [1972]. She retired from movies after marrying Hollywood producer Robert Chartoff (Point Blank [1967], Rocky [1976], New York, New York [1977]).

While Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush was mostly a showcase for young, up-and-coming actors, Maxine Audley and Denholm Elliott as Caroline's decadent aristocratic parents practically stole the movie in their brief scenes. Audley had a long and distinguished career, appearing in such movies as The Prince and the Showgirl [1957] with Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe, The Vikings [1958], Michael Powell's Peeping Tom [1960] and The Agony and the Ecstasy [1965]. Elliott was one of England's most distinguished character actors, scoring an Oscar® nomination for Best Supporting Actor in A Room with a View [1985], and winning a younger audience with his appearances in Raiders of the Lost Ark [1981] and Trading Places [1983].

In minor supporting roles in Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, you'll spot such familiar British supporting players as Nicky Henson (Witchfinder General [1968], There's a Girl in My Soup [1970], Psychomania [1973]), Roy Holder (The Taming of the Shrew [1967], Loot [1970], The Land That Time Forgot [1975]) and Donald Pleasence's daughter, Angela, who has appeared in such horror films as From Beyond the Grave (1973), Symptoms (1974) and The Godsend (1980).

The soundtrack album of Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush includes the following songs:
- "Taking Out Time"
Performed by the Spencer Davis Group
- "Every Little Thing"
Performed by the Spencer Davis Group
- "Virgin's Dream"
Performed by the Spencer Davis Group
- "Picture of Her"
Performed by the Spencer Davis Group
- "Just Like Me"
Performed by the Spencer Davis Group
- "Waltz for Caroline"
Performed by the Spencer Davis Group
- "It's Been A Long Time"
Performed by Andy Ellison
- "Utterly Simple"
Performed by Traffic
- "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush"
Performed by Traffic
- "Am I What I Was or Was I What I Am"
Performed by Traffic

by Jeff Stafford


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Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush (1968)

"The film for all its lighthearted cheerfulness, does not amount to much, but it's a good cut above the beach party capers that American-International used to make for the young audience. Don't be too surprised if some of our American young people, after they have seen it, decide to finish their educations in merry young England. Aside from the moral issues, which I'm totally unqualified to untangle, I found the film preferable by far to some heavy-handed exercises that have just emerged from Hollywood."
- Hollis Alpert, Saturday Review

"A lighthearted look at teen-agers with engaging performances from a largely unknown lineup of youngsters, this picture should click by touching the mood of the times...Clive Donner's production has a nimble alertness to juvenile characteristics and a nice flair for's pleasantly salted with lines about young sexual ambitions and their difficult achievement...Barry Evans wins both sympathy and laughs as the boy...A further asset of the picture is the music soundtrack, with a hit theme from The Traffic and other apt sounds from Spencer Davis."
- Variety

"Of all the "with-it" youth films of the 1960s, Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush is the one that broke the most ground. Its take on teenage sex was relatively honest, and it didn't pander. In some respects, Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush seems like a British analog to The Graduate [1967]."
- Bruce Eder, Hollywood Rock: A Guide to Rock'n'Roll in the Movies

"If sound in movies does not matter to you - or if only Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush were a silent film - it might be a good movie to see....It has the worst script, bar none, I have ever heard. One wisecrack relentlessly follows another - neither funny nor true to the unfunny wisecracks people make in real life. There are countless strongly off-color remarks - all of them embarrassingly not quite humor, the way the off-color jokes of children is impossible to convey this sort of thing accurately; its awfulness is cumulative - and if you also don't mind voices pitched to a shrill unpleasantness, there is still the plot. It is a kind of cross between Billy Liar [1963] and Closely Watched Trains [1966]....some of the scenes are dull while others have some of the tasteless excesses of What's New, Pussycat? [1965] but from a pictorial point of view - of what a new fantasy of mod love and courtship might look like."
- Renata Adler, The New York Times

"....Mr. Donner's revelation - via a 24-year-old actor who passes for thirty on screen while attempting to portray seventeen - is that boys of seventeen, on the brink of college, have nothing but SEX on the mind and spend an entire summer discovering that some girls do and some girls don't and maybe there's more to human emotions than just the doing....But what's the point? What's new? Why impose on our time and interest? Are we really at the point where pretty pictures, preferably of the female form, are all we demand? Are moviegoers to become nothing more than voyeurs?"
- Judith Crist, New York

"...Donner's eagerness to pour 'swinging style' and pop songs over everything makes nonsense of the socially critical attitudes that filter weakly through from the script (by Hunter Davies himself). So charmless as to be almost unwatchable."
- Tom Milne, TimeOut Film Guide

"Clive Donner's Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush makes it abundantly clear that the mad, stylish, with-it new British comedies are the true heirs of the beach-party boom. Do not ask what became of Frankie Avalon; look around ye...Mulberry Bush has all the scenes you expect. There is the opening shot in which the hero dashes through a crowd of amazed middle-class folks while reciting thoughts about love and lust. There is the dance scene where swinging chicks twist while psychedelic lights play upon the crowd. How often have we been forced to sit through this dance?...There is also the obligatory night scene during which the hero, intoxicated by love runs through empty streets, his heels clicking on the cobblestones. I guess people in love do this all the time...He [Evans] looks like a younger Albert Finney, but even in his most daring pursuits Evans lacks Finney's dogged amorous dedication (which so enlivened Tom Jones [1963]). I don't really object to escapism of this sort; let us gather our rosebuds while we may. But have we forgotten what escapism really is?"
- Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun-Times

"Repetitive comedy which certainly opened avenues in British humour and seemed pretty permissive at the time (pre-Graduate). In itself, however, more modish than sympathetic."
- Halliwell's Film & Video Guide

"The only incongruity is that it should have been made by adults, so completely does it enter into the teenager's view of himself."

"Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush was lively, but somehow desperate that it could be no more."
- David Thomson, The New Biographical Dictionary of Film

"Amiable British trifle about a frustrated teenage virgin (Evans) who fumbles numerous opportunities to "prove his manhood."
- Rock on Film

"So fashionably up to date - for 1967 - that it almost hurts, Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush was considered pretty racy stuff in its day, mainly due to its sex obsessed protagonist and the plot which essentially focused on his exploits in attaining his heart's desire, which was, well, intercourse....if the film is too contrived in its efforts to depict its of the moment world, there's still charm here, mainly thanks to Evans as the actresses don't get much of a chance to provide deep characterisation. Funnily enough, this has a studied immediacy that might just sum up its era for a lot of people."
-- Graeme Clark, The Spinning Image (

Compiled by Jeff Stafford

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Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush (1968)

Jamie: "Knickers. I'm knickers obsessed. I must learn to control it."

Linda: "What's a phallic symbol?"
Jamie: "Phallic symbol? It's something that stands for something else. No, that's a fallacy. Get it? It was a joke."

Jamie: "I'm sorry I bumped into you."
Linda: "Well, no hard feelings then."
Jamie: "That's what you think!"

Jamie (referring to Mary): "My big chance to speak to her for the first time and I'm wasting it. I'm an idiot. I don't know what to say. Spike would know. He's chatted them into bed and I can't even chat hello. They should have correspondence courses. Teach yourself to chat."

Jamie: "Me own brother, Casanova at sixteen, and me still a celibate monk. The whole country's having it off and it's like I'm a leper. Where's me bell? Unclean! Perhaps I've got B.O."

1st Housewife: "I never tire of fish, do you?"
2nd Housewife: "No, I'm never tired of fish."
1st Housewife: "I'm tired of meat. Yah, I do tire of meat."
2nd Housewife: "Yah, I do tire of meat."
1st Housewife: "I tire of meat and I tire of chicken but I never tire of fish."
2nd Housewife: "No, I never tire of fish, no."

Jamie: "Warm hands, warm heart. Cold hands, cold crotch."
Linda: "Never heard that one before. What's crotch mean?"
Jamie: "Well, what do we's the difference between the top of your legs and the bottom of your bottom."

Jamie: "It seems so unfair. The ones you fancy don't fancy you and the ones that fancy you, you don't fancy. Period."

Spike: "Every bird is fair game mate, for you and for me."

Caroline: "No, don't touch me. That would spoil everything. Just look at me first."

Caroline: "C'mon Jamie, what's the matter with the floor?"
Jamie: "It's hard."
Caroline: "Ok, on top of the wardrobe then."

Mrs. McGregor inspecting Jamie's underwear with Audrey: "Do you know I boil them three times and they're still as bad. Jamie, what do you do to them?"

Mrs. McGregor (waving goodbye to Jamie and Audrey as they leave for a party): "Not too many of those nasty drugs, you too!"

Compiled by Jeff Stafford

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