A Taste of Honey (UK 1961)

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Murray Melvin and Rita Tushingham in A Taste of Honey

This was one of my memorable screenings from the 1960s. However, I see on revisiting that it received an X Certificate at the time: a sign of the times but even then anachronistic. It is one of the best directorial outings by Tony Richardson, who also worked with Shelagh Delaney to adapt her original play to the screen. The film offers that authentic sense of time and place which was so notable feature of many films in the period. Walter Lassally, filming on location in Manchester, Salford and Blackpool, deserves much of the credit for this, as does the sound recording and editing of Charles Poulton, Don Challis and Roy Hyde. Plus a fine score by John Addison. What also stands out is the cast. Newcomer Rita Tushingham is marvellously convincing as the young Jo. And Dora Bryan, Murray Melvin and [briefly] Paul Danquah play finely alongside her. The film softens the original play slightly but has the same sense of freshness and adventure. Both were daring for the time, though it is difficult to remember clearly how restrictive were social codes around sexuality, sexual orientation and ethnicity/colour. I have revisited the film several times and it is one of the 1960s ‘kitchen sink’ dramas’ that stands up well. So it is a welcome treat that Picturehouse at the National Media Museum are re-screening the film on September 23rd and in the film’s original and proper format – 35mm.

Note, Roy advises that the screening is part of a “Research Project on ‘Cinemagoing in the 1960s’ and that the film will be introduced by Dr Melvyn Stokes.”

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2 comments

  1. Roy Stafford

    It is certainly shot on location in Blackpool, but mainly in Salford rather than Manchester?

    If this is the print struck by the BFI around 10 years ago, I remember it was very dark.

    I like the film a lot. Your comment about the X certificate is interesting but you didn’t mention that this screening is part of a tour of cinemas connected to a Research Project on ‘Cinemagoing in the 1960s’ and that the film will be introduced by Dr Melvyn Stokes.

  2. keith1942

    Roy is right about Salford and Blackpool, though I think it also included other areas of the conurbation. I do not remember it being noticeably dark last time, though I think it was a duplicate print.

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