Youtube and 'No Love for Johnnie'

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April 13th 2020
Published: April 13th 2020
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The most useful thing about the internet, after email, is Youtube. For me, it is an invaluable source of music, movies, sporting highlights and documentaries. I rarely play music from my large digitalized collection, because everything I need is there on Youtube. I have not subscribed to Netflix because I'm still discovering excellent movies on Youtube, and I've only just begun to tap the vast reservoir of documentaries that Youtube possesses. Yes, Youtube is like a vast reservoir or a parallel universe that one can dip into whenever - like now during coronavirus self-quarantine - one has time to fill up.

Recently I’ve been bingeing on old movies. Youtube has a limited selection of modern movies but is full of old black-and-white and early technicolour stuff. Yesterday I watched Walt Disney’s ‘Bambi’ for the first time (after watching ‘Fantasia’ and ‘Fantasia 2000’ the day before). Then I thought I needed a dose of horror and tried to find John Carpenter’s ‘Prince of Darkness’ but, alas, it wasn’t there. However, the name of the principal actor, Donald Pleasence, led me to an unknown movie called ‘No Love for Johnnie’. The cast is a who’s who of 1960’s British cinema, with one name standing out: Peter Finch. I have always liked Peter Finch, who won an Oscar for ‘Network’ and whose performance as Farmer Boldwood in ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ I find deeply affecting. Anyway, here he was in this obscure British movie from 1961.

Usually I check a new movie on imdb before starting to watch it; if it gets 7 stars, and if Roger Ebert endorses it, then it will be worth viewing. However, in this case, I took a chance and watched it blind. How could I go wrong with Peter Finch and that all-star British cast (Stanley Holloway, Donald Pleasence, Billie Whitelaw, Mervyn Johns, Geoffrey Keen, Dennis Price, Peter Barkworth, Fennella Fielding, Oliver Reed)?

My intuition was correct because, in spite of its cheesy title, this is a fine movie – not an absolute cracker but engrossing throughout. I enjoyed the sharp script (by Nicholas Phipps and Mordecai Richler from a novel by Wilfred Fienburgh), the acting (Peter Finch especially), the setting (the London of my youth in all its glory) and the insights into Parliament and the Labour Party. Peter Finch may be too urbane and elegant for a Labour politician, and Mary Peach’s infatuation with him seems a tad improbable, but the movie successfully combines politics and love into a compelling whole. I was tickled by the swear words “bitch” and “bastard”, by Finch’s abortive encounter with a prostitute and by the strip club scene – all rather risqué for 1961.

No Love for Johnnie’ tanked at the box office and gets little attention on imdb (just 13 user and 4 critic reviews), but it won a BAFTA for Peter Finch. It is a serious, detailed, well-crafted movie which I thoroughly enjoyed and which deserves to be better known.


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