It doesn’t come much more “period” than this: a film that gently pushed the boundaries at the time and which might be damned by our benign condescension 50 years later. Looked at in context though, The Leather Boys deserves the respect its good intentions demand: there’s fine acting from three wildly differing leads and a slice of a life that has almost disappeared. This was a Britain in which new opportunities were opening up – a time of Butlins, self-determination and Triumph Bonnevilles – and yet old attitudes still held sway.
Young motorcyclists – “Ton-up Boys” - may have gathered around the Ace Café on London’s North Circular Road but they were still too eagerly rushing into adult life and commitment: and you shall know them by their velocity…
|Rita Tushingham and Colin Campbell|
|This could be a Smiths LP cover...|
At the same time Reggie begins to spend more time with an odd-bod biker buddy Pete (Dudley Sutton) – an unconventional presence at the Ace who lives for the moment and dreams of escape to New York. Pete is the most loyal of pals, preferring to spend time alone with Reggie shooting fireworks from the wasteland near where he works or maintaining their bikes together.
|Colin Campbell and Dudley Sutton|
Reggie arranges for Pete to stay with his gran (Gladys Henson) and is almost a lone voice in keeping her out of a nursing home and in her own home – Dot joining in with his brother-in-law in arguing for her to sell up. Pete charms the old dear and as Reggie walks out on Dot, the two share her spare room.
|Pete's nights with Reg...|
Dot hatches a plan to bring Reggie back by telling him she’s expecting a baby and he immediately suspects her new friend Brian and decks him at the Ace but it’s all a fiction…
|Rita and him off Corrie...|
Will Dot and Pete’s revival survive their return to the everyday and will Pete ever get the point about his mate? Things aren’t straightforward… a bit like life.
|The boys are confused...|
|But the girl understands...|
Elsewhere, the Ace Café is still open for business and you can find details on their site of the last fifty years of ton-up boys and girls!
|The Ace Cafe|