Harrow County School for Boys

The Film Society, 1968

by Stephen Frost

I was at HCS from 1963-70.

David Spahr, a contemporary in my year, started the Film Society with English master Clive Anderson around 1968, as I recall.

Films were shown in B6 the lecture theatre, after school on Thursdays. A projector and roll down screen were used and the quality of the visual and sound reproduction was limited.

The organisers produced a detailed written commentary for each film shown, which were very helpful. The choice of film was quite eclectic, ranging from classics such as Battleship Potemkin to films of the French and Italian New Wave, American B movies, surrealism and science fiction.

One area that was neglected was the British social realism movement of the 1960s, lead by directors such as Tony Richardson, Karel Reisz, Lindsay Anderson and John Schlesinger. Films such as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, A Kind of Loving, This Sporting Life, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, etc. Perhaps the organisers preferred to look outside the UK for their inspiration. Or were some of the themes of these films thought to be too sensitive, or too subversive, for 5th and 6th formers?

The titles I remember being shown at the Film Society are:

Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein)

Un Chien Andalou (Bunuel)

Bicycle Thieves (De Sica)

La Strada (Fellini)

Knife in the Water (Polanski) (not sure, but could not have been Cul de Sac or Repulsion which although released around that time would surely have been thought unsuitable)

Alphaville (Godard)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Siegel)

Major Dundee (Peckinpah)

Flaming Star (Siegel) (not sure, could be another Elvis Presley film)

Les Quatre Cents Coups or Fahrenheit 451 (Truffaut)

L'Ascenseur pour l'Echafaud (Louis Malle)


Any comments would be much appreciated!


Stephen Frost


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