The British Film Institute’s ‘BFI Flipside’ DVD imprint continues to dig out some fascinating and neglected films from the history of British cinema. Each title is presented in both standard and high definition, and offers an absorbing journey into avenues of British cinema that have remained overgrown and mistreated for decades. These titles (most of which I’ve never heard of) now have the opportunity to spring from the soil and enjoy a moment or two in the sunlight. A good number of these releases so far encompass the lusty traditions of British sexploitation, and while Permissive would nominally be categorised as such, it is a far trickier proposition when viewed. The director was Lindsey Shonteff, a Canadian who began making films in Britain in the early 1960’s. For genre fans his most famous film is probably Devil Doll (1964), a lacklustre and dull retread of ’The Ventriloquist’s Dummy’ story from Ealing’s chilling portmanteau film Dead of Night (1945). Although Shonteff’s twenty three directorial efforts were plagued by low budgets and received patchy to non-existent distribution, his films (even the James Bond spoofs) possess an energy and a strange magnetism which make them eminently watchable. Shonteff is a director of some generic savvy and utility, and in many ways Permissive is atypical in his filmography.
© Shaun Anderson 2011