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Thread: Bronco Bullfrog

  1. #1
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    I see that a digitally remastered print of this film is due for a cinema release in June.Does anyone have any information on how extensive this release will be?

  2. #2
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    You could try the classification site ?



    bbfc - the official website of the bbfc. classification for entertainment, movies and video games



    This will give you details about all types of its release in the UK (DVD,cinema etc)

    and when.



    It was shown in the glory days of CH4 when they showed alsorts of rare and obscure stuff.



    Have you seen it before ?

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    Oh yes,I still have it on tape from that C4 showing & also the same director's film,'Private Road', that C4 transmitted a couple of weeks later.It's sad that C4 is now virtually unrecognisable to its risk-taking early years.To see Bronco on the big screen really would be a treat.

  4. #4
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    yes I had a tape somewhere from C4 (now long gone) and use to show it to friends in the "you gotta see this" mode... although I cant remember much of it now so its a welcome release if its happening.



    I think you can set up a plug in from the British film Classification Site which will tell you every time a film gets released on some medium .

  5. #5
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    It's sad that C4 is now virtually unrecognisable to its risk-taking early years.
    It certainly is, but it's 27 years now since it went on the air. Nowadays it just goes for the lowest common denominator in the youth market - Big Brother etc. ad nauseam.

  6. #6
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    Bronco Bullfrog: the film the UK forgot



    A rude, bracing slice of East End life that dropped off screens for decades, Bronco Bullfrog is finally back. Xan Brooks talks to the survivors of a British classic

    o Xan Brooks

    o guardian.co.uk, Thursday 3 June 2010 23.10 BST



    One night in November 1970, Princess Anne tripped along to Oxford Circus for the London premiere of Three Sisters, a film starring and directed by Sir Laurence Olivier, who had recently been made a life peer in the birthday honours list. A pleasant evening lay in store – except that there, on the red carpet, the princess found herself face-to-face with the hoi polloi, the great unwashed. Some 200 members of the Beaumont youth club out in Leyton, east London, had shown up to jeer her. Some were reported to have chucked tomatoes at her head. These protesters did not think the princess should be on her way to see some stuffy Chekhov drama by a peer of the realm. They wanted her to come and see their film instead.



    The film in question was Bronco Bullfrog, a rumble-tumble East End picaresque, shot on the cheap (£18,000) and entirely staffed with non-professional actors. Barney Platts-Mills's film played in Cannes, won rave reviews and picked up a Writers' Guild award. After that, it quickly fell into shadow. Today it stands as a forgotten time piece, a rebel in exile. Few films have highlighted the class war at the heart of British cinema (and, by implication, the nation as a whole) so pointedly as Bronco Bullfrog. Few have suffered so ignominious a fate. Try as I might, I can't believe these facts are unrelated.



    I hook up with Platts-Mills in an office block near Notting Hill Gate. The director is in town to edit his latest feature, his first in decades (a love story, set in Morocco). But I'm barely through the door when he is bemoaning Bronco Bullfrog, the film that proved there is no such thing as independent cinema in this country. "That's why I packed it in. Independent cinema!" he scoffs. "It was a lie then and it's a lie now. Film is just a way of showing off Tom Cruise's underpants."



    At this point it should be pointed out that Barney Platts-Mills, like most revolutionaries, actually hails from the bourgeoisie. He was the son of John Platts-Mills, a Labour backbencher and a noted QC who argued the case for the Great Train Robbers. As a teenager, Platts-Mills Jr dropped out of public school to take a job at Shepperton studios, where he worked on post-production for Spartacus and A Kind of Loving. Later, he fell under the spell of 40s Italian neo-realism and the 50s Free Cinema movement. He shot a documentary about Joan Littlewood's improvisatory theatre workshops in Stratford. His ambition, he said, was to create a new kind of cinema: "free, accessible, working class". He was just 25 when he began work on Bronco Bullfrog.



    Platts-Mills explains how it came about. His association with Littlewood (the outspoken "mother of modern theatre") led to him playing the role of Fagin to the youths she brought in off the streets. Eventually the actors came up with an idea for a film; something about the lives they led and a lad they'd known who broke out of Borstal. "Everything they knew about acting came from Joan," he says. "Everything I knew about directing – that came from Joan as well."



    Bronco Bullfrog plays out around the estates, cafes and bomb sites of Stratford. It charts the fortunes of a pair of star-crossed lovers, Del (Del Walker) and Irene (Anne Gooding), whose budding relationship is beset by nagging parents and a cash-flow shortage. Meantime, idling behind the net curtains at the local greasy spoon sits the mythic Bronco Bullfrog (Sam Shepherd), a Borstal runaway who schemes to rob a goods train and abscond with the loot. Platts-Mills sets the cast in motion and chases them all the way towards a poignant hanging ending. Along the way he rustles up a brisk, bracing, slice-of-life drama, a casual portrait of late-60s "suedeheads" kicking their heels and dreaming of escape. The directing is rough and ready; the performances are a little rude and unschooled. In the end, of course, that's all part of the appeal.



    "The kids came to us," Platts-Mills says. "We gave them time off work and paid them double the wages, and their idea of acting was to give us more or less what they thought we wanted. More often than not, that's better than the alternative." He shrugs. "People always talk about 'naturalistic acting'. No such thing! What they are doing is taking the piss, undermining the process. Look at the way Del stands there sometimes, all silent and moody. That's just bone idleness on his part. But I like that. That's a real person caught there in the frame."



    On its initial release, Bronco Bullfrog was hailed by the critics as a breath of fresh air. But its distributors, British Lion, could not think what to do with the primitive beast they had taken on. First, they tried to retitle it (Around Angel Lane), and then they tried to bury it. On the whole, they've been successful: since it dribbled out of cinemas, the film has screened just twice on UK television. "The BBC never shows it. Channel 4 never shows it." The director rolls his eyes. "They show their own rotten films and it's a fucking good film. So what are these people playing at? It's a disgrace."



    Matters reached their nadir in the mid-1980s when the master negative was dumped in a rubbish skip. "Fortunately, one of the film lab employees found it there and took it to the archive," Platts-Mills explains. "So yes, it's remarkable that the film survived. I'm very lucky," he says, though he looks anything but.



    Now, at long last, Bronco Bullfrog is making its return. It has been unearthed and restored and opens (or reopens) in cinemas next week. To watch it now is to catch a glimpse of an alternative strain of British cinema, and to witness the raw "piss-taking" promise of a crop of actors who flourished for a moment and then were gone. "Their style of acting was Joan's style of acting," says Platts-Mills sadly. "There's no place for that in the RSC. And Sir Peter Hall doesn't like it either, the cunt."



    Whatever became of them, the kids who were in the film? The director says Gooding is dead ("died on the dancefloor"), while another performer was killed by a car. But Walker is still around, and is now a grandfather on the Isle of Wight. And it turns out that Shepherd, who played the title role, currently works as a market porter in Spitalfields. I ring his phone and wake him up. It transpires that he was the main ringleader of that long-ago protest in Oxford Circus – and that story, too, had an epilogue. A week later, Princess Anne did come to see Bronco Bullfrog, and took her seat beside Shepherd in the palatial splendour of the Mile End ABC. The actor bent down to kiss her hand and was later dragged away by police. "They told me if I ever pulled a stunt like that again I was for the high jump."



    Who knows what the princess thought of Bronco Bullfrog? Maybe she liked it. Maybe she didn't and was too polite to say. But Shepherd remembers sitting beside her in the dark while Irene's mother was railing at her daughter's taste in boys. "She turned to me and said, 'My mum was like that.'" Shepherd chuckles at the memory. "It took me a minute to twig that she was talking about the Queen."



    Needless to say, this was the only time Shepherd took a princess to the pictures. After Bronco Bullfrog, he (like the rest of the cast) never acted again. He has run pubs and worked in clubs and busied himself in the market "on various barrows". He would have liked to give it another go, he says. But there was no advice and no guidance, and he is not about to start crying about it now.



    Part of what makes Bronco Bullfrog so captivating is the way it catches a moment in time. It shows London's East End in flux, its inhabitants hurrying past the frame. That seems to be Shepherd's attitude to it, too. Look, he says. Littlewood and Platts-Mills came from a totally different background, but they did a good thing. They took a bunch of delinquents and gave them something to do. Bronco Bullfrog was a fine experience, "six weeks of having a laugh". But, you know, life moves on. If anything, he is surprised someone would even ask him about it now. He watched the film again recently, but only for old time's sake. "I look at the old streets, the motors, the clothes. It's a nostalgia thing. But that's about it. I remember at the time, this film critic, Alexander Walker, he said, 'This is a film that will be talked about in years to come.' And I thought, 'You're mad.' What do people get out of it today? They're mad. I mean," he adds, almost angrily, "does it say anything to you at all?"



    I assure him it does. I burble something about Bronco Bullfrog's integrity, its authenticity. It's an honest film, I tell him. And Sam Shepherd, one-time delinquent turned movie actor turned market porter, cackles at my naivety. "An honest film?" he says. "An honest film with dodgy acting, dodgy actors. We were all like that in those days. Turn your back and we'd have nicked the camera."



    Bronco Bullfrog is released 11 June in selected cinemas.

  7. #7
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    Special feature on 'Bronco Bullfrog' on the late-night BBC Radio 3 arts programme 'Night Waves' 9.15 pm yesterday, Wednesday June 9th.



    www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00smv4r



    Plenty of scene-by-scene commentary, and interview with the director also!



    As a special bonus, Britmovie readers get a selection of my 'Bronco Bullfrog' cuttings



    (I'm smoothing DB7 over in advance of a multi-whinge regarding the new format,folks )

  8. #8
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    Oh! The BBC link doesn't seem to happen! The Radio 3 details are there though

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    Oh! The BBC link doesn't seem to happen! The Radio 3 details are there though

  10. #10
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    Luckily I recorded it on my DAB radio - was listening to it in the car on the way to work this morning.

  11. #11
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    Barney Platts-Mills on lost classic 'Bronco Bullfrog'



    'Bronco Bullfrog' was shot in the East End in 1969 and is a lost gem of British cinema. Dave Calhoun meets its director, Barney Platts-Mills



    British filmmaker Barney Platts-Mills has been out of it for years – out of the film business, out of touch with the world in which he made two features, ‘Bronco Bullfrog’ and ‘Private Road’, between 1969 and 1971. Film projects come and go, explains this affable, cheeky 65 year old whose voice lurches between the salon and the street: he has been involved with the Portobello Film Festival since it started in the 1990s and recently shot his first film in 20 years in Morocco, where he has a house (‘now I only know people called Mohammed’). But Platts-Mills says he’s a different person entirely from when this son of the establishment (his dad was a QC who defended the Krays) made ‘Bronco Bullfrog’ on the streets of east London with rough-and-ready kids from Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop.



    ‘I lost touch with myself,’ he says over a cup of tea in a pub around the corner from the British Film Institute, which is re-releasing ‘Bronco Bullfrog’ this week and preparing a DVD of the film. ‘From the age of 15, when I went into the film business, to 26, I did one thing: I made films. When I stopped, I didn’t know what to say to anyone. I went to Scotland and grew cabbages. I’ve done the same thing in Morocco.’ Platts-Mills quit boarding school at 15 and spent the rest of the 1960s as a fledgling editor and director, coming into contact with studios and TV, as well as skirting the edges of the looser, more documentary-based Free Cinema scene. It was his 1968 short, ‘Everybody’s an Actor, Shakespeare Said’, about the work of Littlewood, famous for her 1963 production ‘Oh, What a Lovely War!’, that brought him into contact with the kids in ‘Bronco Bullfrog’.



    The film is a lost gem, a simple story of a teenage welder, Del (Del Walker), and his relationships with his best mate, Roy (Roy Haywood), his new girlfriend, Irene (Anne Gooding), and Bronco (Sam Shepherd), a lonely boy fresh out of borstal with a flat full of stolen goods. The dialogue is fruity; the locations are as real as the behaviour; and the feeling is of youngsters acting out their lives. The crime is petty; the petting is coy. Platts-Mills says he was copying Littlewood. ‘All any of us knew about acting or directing actors was from Joan. Her idea was that there’s no point hiding behind a part, you have to be there yourself. The main thing she said to me was, “Don’t let the buggers sit down or they’ll go to sleep.? Not that anyone knew what her idea of theatre was. All she said was “fucking cunt?, really.’



    The film over, Platts-Mills’s actors went back to their jobs. His leading man, Del, continued as a plumber and is now a grandfather on the Isle of Wight. ‘He sent me an email four years ago asking if there was any money. The answer was no. Sam and Roy still live in east London. I never made a penny from the films.’ How did he get on with these boys? ‘They were all troopers, no nonsense at all. They were slightly condescending about filmmaking, they knew welding and plumbing were more serious. But we were close in age. We were friends, great friends.’

  12. #12
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    Yes I remember Bronco from the days when Channel 4 use to be daring with the archive and showed lots of obscure,dusty stuff.

    I recorded it on a Philips V2000 (double sided VCR) and watched it many times - but like the hopes of the V2000 system it all disappeared in to the mists of time and I have no idea what happened to it.

    It could not be made today as everyone is a star and it would just turn into a clash of egos IMHO but what it captured from then was a certain modesty or something- but something all the same .

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    Have just been watching this on the excellent new BFI DVD release (having missed the cinema relaunch). Great film - and makes an interesting comparison with Littlewood's own Sparrows Can't Sing.



    BTW, does anybody know anything about the fates of Platts-Mills' other features, Private Road and Hero? (any DVD of either?) Or when this new one set in Morocco is coming out?

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