Saturday, 24 November 2012

Groupie Girl (1970) - The Original Almost Famous?

I was pleasantly surprised, when I recently watched this British drama from 1970. Usually described as 'trashy' or 'exploitation film' , it actually does not fall under neither category, and is much better than posters advertising it suggest. It is a film guessed it, a groupie. Do not expect however, fun or glamour of Almost Famous. It is in fact, a bleak and pretty depressing movie that was definitely taking a critical view of the whole groupie phenomenon.

The film follows the misadventures of Sally (Esme Johns), who, bored with her life in a provincial town, decides to run away from home and sneaks into the van of a rock band that just played her local dancehall. Lads agree to take her with them - why wouldn't they? From that point  on, she is used, abused, subjected to various tasteless pranks and generally treated worse than dirt - and that's putting it mildly. She gets passed on from one band to another, until the inevitable tragedy occurs.

In America,  the film was released as I Am a Groupie. I don't know who that girl on the poster is, but it's definitely not Esme Johns.

The script was written by Suzanne Mercer, who wasa former groupie herself. Make no mistake, this IS a B-Movie. The acting could be a bit better and the script tries too hard to portray musicians as almost inhumane monsters (although, having hung out with struggling musicians for the large part of my life, I can vouch that they are not generally the nicest of people). But it shows the reality that is all-too-well known to anybody who has ever been in a touring band - dodgy managers, grotty B&B's , traveling in vans with no heating, ego wars and petty fights. At this point I must mention that arguments between band members portrayed in the film, for some reason reminded me of the infamous Troggs Tapes (In 1972, shortly before they split up, The Troggs had a fierce argument in a studio, not realizing that the tape was left running. The tape circulated for years in the underground achieving a cult status and apparently served as an inspiration for This Is Spinal Tap)
  Opal Butterfly - band which appears in Groupie Girl - (from Marmalade Skies)

Another downside to the film is godawful soundtrack. For some bizarre reason, all the bands in the film, seemed to have had a Badfinger obsession. Well, I guess Badfinger were quite big in 1970...

The original soundtrack. If you ever see it, don't buy it.

Costumes in the film are quite interesting. 1970 was a moment in fashion history when two decades stylistically clashed, therefore we get examples of sixties fashions - frilly shirts for men, mini skirts and go-go boots for girls, and premonition of what was about to come in the seventies - Flares, big fur coats and platforms (for both sexes). It is worth to point out that none of the groupies in the film dresses in a style which today is referred to as 'boho chic' and often associated with 60's/70's groupies. Clothes worn by everybody during a party scene are quite amazing - most of them look quite cheaply made, but it gives you a chance to see what 'real people' wore in 1970.

Overall, I would say that the film is definitely worth watching. It gives you a chance to take a look at the English groupie scene of late 60's/early 70's with certain amount of cold realism, and without heart-warming nostalgia.

And you don't even have to buy it. Some kind soul has uploaded the whole film on YouTube.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi.I was bob tn the groupie girl movie.The picture you posted is not opal butterfly it is English Rose featuring me and ex love affair keyboardist Lynton guest.Check us out we have both had long and varied carrears in the buisness.Lynton also became a famous foot5ball reporter and pundit whpo has written many best sellers.He also has a book about the life and trial of michael Jackson.I am Jimmy Edwards one of the first and youngest mod's and musicians who has worked with everyone from the neat Change to the Jam.If you really want to know about that culture you should know me and my contribution to british rock.It's amusing you saying you don't like the music.The general consensus with reviewers over the last 40 od years is that it's the best thing about the movie.It's true that when people watch groupie girl they see the serious side and the point it was making.Way beyond it's time and ground breaking.You are entitled to your view.Please do your research and find out who was who.'m Jimmy Edwards,If you don't know of me you should.Best wishes Jimmy