The promise of this film far outweighs its delivery… it looks like it should be a smart satire on the British class system, military priviledge and the struggle for a new enlightenment but it ends up being just a bit irritating. Just about the only sympathetic characters are the “innocent” guardsmen played by the likes of Warren Clarke whilst pretty much every major character has only unresolved arguments to make or, in the case of “Bumbo” is a near vacuum – with no real substance or impact… you just don’t care that much.
|Warwick, Fox and Williams|
He clearly wants the beautiful Susie (Joanna Lumley who is very fetching in a red wig) if only for one thing, even though he convinces himself it’s also about her principles – a revolt for the sake of it with no specific agenda as far as I could see. Indeed, when at one point one of the working class guardsmen praises her bravery she smiles a childish grin as if all she’s really after is approval.
|Take that, The Man!|
|Jock protests too much, methinks...|
|Silk bandages for the injured soldier|
|That's about it, Lumley lovers..|
As it is, Bumbo becomes converted to their cause and after sitting around debating the need for action turns up in support of whatever it is they’re for at a march earning the displeasure of his commander back at the barracks.
|Bumbo makes the news at a march|
In fairness to Bumbo and to writer, director Andrew Sinclair who was a former Coldstream Guards officer and who also wrote the original book in 1959, the character expresses from the outset his wish to retain his personality: he doesn’t want to be processed.
Yet, after finding out that Susie has very quickly progressed beyond the sexual-interest stage of “love” to the platonic version which allows her to sleep with other partners… Bumbo feels more than a little let down. So does Susie who can’t understand his possessiveness: she still loves him but not in the way he wants… not in “that” way.
In spite of this Bumbo proceeds with his plan… can he succeed in launching a revolution from within? Will parade be the Battleship Potemkin helping to inspire wider social change or will he just end up making a fool of himself and falling back into his pre-ordained slot in upper class society?
Dusty verdict: I can easily understand why this film had only a very limited release at the time… it doesn’t fully explain itself and ends up being a bit confused. It does attempt to grasp at deeper meaning and the juxtaposition of fans at a heated Stamford Bridge with the cold discipline of the Guards shows what the army is really there for.
Bumbo explains to Billy that he’ll be just like his forebears – nothing will change even when the world has moved on the military mind is geared towards the maintenance of tradition. Yet Bumbo, broken though he may be, still starts to relish the lucky break that eventually comes his way: marriage to Sheila (Natasha Pyne) and her wealth and her privilege… Poor man to be so trapped.
There are good performances tucked away on the undercard… from Edward Fox as a maniacal officer Horwood and young Simon Williams as Crutcher. There are also a striking cameo from the recently-departed Warren Clarke as Guardsmen Andrews whilst Anouska Hempel passes by as a highly-convincing debutante.
There are also some lovely shots of period London – the docks near St Paul (long since demolished), the West End and Chelsea FC before they got their Russian billions and were a community club representing South West London pride...
You can buy Bumbo from Amazon or Movie Mail if you miss the sixties and like Joanna Lumley you can't really go wrong.
|Richard Warwick and Anouska Hempel|
|The warehouses of St Paul's|