Machine Made Dirt

On Diabolique, I’m exploring underground British cinema by way of the BFI Flipside series. First up: wild jazz beatniks on a lust-fueled rampage! It’s Gillian Hills in Beat Girl.

A mass of hopped-up teenagers stampede onto a dancefloor, jerking and gyrating to a driving, twangy guitar rock anthem. This is not the youth of Britain as audiences were used to seeing them, which I guess was…what? Cockney bootblacks and pickpockets? This is 1960’s Beat Girl, directed by Edmond T. Gréville. These are children who grew up after the war, who looked upon post-war austerity not as a badge of “stiff upper lip” pride but as something to be raged against, a betrayal of what it is to be alive and to be young.