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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    Joanna � the ultimate swinging London film
    It was colourful, it made the city look beautiful, and included plenty of sex � Mike Sarne's film about one girl's lovelife in the capital defines the swinging 60s better than any other

    by Bob Stanley, Thursday 21 April 2011

    No matter what you accomplish in life, a novelty hit casts a long shadow. David Bowie manages to get through most days without people shouting "laughing gnome" at him, but Mike Sarne is certainly best remembered for his No 1 single, Come Outside, a record that also introduced us to his (vinyl only) girlfriend, Wendy Richard. History is less quick to recall that he became a photographer of note, dated Brigitte Bardot and directed a film that competed for the Palme d'Or at Cannes.

    That film, Joanna, may be the ultimate swinging London film: it's colourful, makes the city look beautiful, includes plenty of sex and is even fairly believable. "I pitched it as the female Alfie," recalls Sarne, an astute move that netted a deal with 20th Century Fox. He remembers standing on a corner of Soho Square in 1967 with fellow budding director (and Beatles photographer) Bob Freeman. "Bob wanted to make a film called The Touchables about models kidnapping a pop singer. We were with Richard Zanuck. He said, 'The Sound of Music just made me $90m. So I'll give you $1m, each.' Me! I was 26 years old and a millionaire just like that."

    Sarne's CV at this point included his No 1 hit, several flop 45s, a Russian degree, some fashion photography and a short acting career. He began directing with a travelogue called The Road to St Tropez in 1966; his companion on the trip was a girl from Frome, Somerset, called Joanne Roncarelli.

    "Joanne had a lovely figure, but quite an anonymous face. She could just put lipstick on and you wouldn't recognise her. She was totally into fashion and wore really beautiful clothes, Chanel and Gucci, and looked like she belonged everywhere. She stole them all! I wasn't her only boyfriend, but I wasn't jealous. Most girls are very coy about their love life, but she was completely different. From her pillow talk I got the whole story for Joanna, went to Cheshire, and wrote it in two weeks."

    Sarne wanted to make the "London Dolce Vita". There were pregnancies, abortions, beatings. Joanna herself comes up with blankly winning lines such as: "I love him but I don't want to marry him � I hate married men."

    Sarne had wanted his girlfriend, the dark and beautiful Gabriella Licudi, to play the title role, but this was vetoed by producer Michael Laughlin. Laughlin then discovered a model called Genevieve Waite, who had just arrived in London from South Africa. "Genevieve had big, deep circles under her eyes and obviously couldn't act. All she had going for her was that she had a figure like Twiggy." In spite of his snippy first impressions, Sarne is still good friends with Waite, and now accepts she was perfect for the role. "She wasn't a glamourpuss. Her blankness, in a kind of way, reflected Joanne. She's highly intelligent, but has that dopiness down � she plays on it."

    Roman Polanski was head of the jury for the 1968 Cannes festival and, as the two were friends, Sarne convinced Fox to enter Joanna. "I said Roman will give me a prize � best newcomer, or best script. Fox said, 'Really? He can't do that!' They were very naive, considering. But it was the worst thing that could have happened." The 1968 Cannes festival was caught up in "les �v�nements", and was a disaster. Sarne's Rolls-Royce was pelted with eggs by demonstrators, and Waite was trapped in her hotel. The festival was eventually abandoned. And, of course, the French thought Joanna was shallow and commercial. It did well enough in America, though, for Sarne to move to Hollywood where he directed the notorious Myra Breckinridge in 1970, and hooked Waite up with his "utterly sordid" friend John Phillips, late of the Mamas and Papas.

    Joanna the film is world-weary, funny, glamorous and mucky. There's enough there to make you consider Sarne an unduly forgotten director. He reckons that "for all Joanna's faults, it does reflect the dizziness and silliness of 60s London. And the happiness � people really did dress up and show off. Some people like to look back and think it was all Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, but we had fast cars, Brigitte Bardot was in town, and we all had affairs in Rome and Paris. It didn't just happen to the Beatles."

    Joanna is released on DVD and Blu-ray by BFI Flipside on Monday.

  2. #2
    Hmm. But is the film any good? I've never seen or heard of it. Is it ever on TV?

  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    I watched the Flipside dvd recently and wasn't overly impressed, the film's style is interesting with its dream sequences and overseas shooting in Morocco, but the story is the derivative young girl arrives in London and goes on wild adventures with trendy types. It's was done to death in the late Sixties - better in other films that recognise the Swinging era is coming to an end.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain vincenzo's Avatar
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    Never rated it myself. Smashing Time and I'll Never Forget What's'isname were far more entertaining and representative of Swinging London than this one.

    McKuen's score is superb though. Especially the gorgeous I'll Catch The Sun.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Country: UK SwingingLondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vincenzo View Post
    Never rated it myself. Smashing Time and I'll Never Forget What's'isname were far more entertaining and representative of Swinging London than this one.

    McKuen's score is superb though. Especially the gorgeous I'll Catch The Sun.
    I agree, those two capture the era the best. Joanna, not so much.

    For the earlier days of Swinging London, Darling & Pleasure Girls.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain
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    From the Rick C newspaper and magazine archive here's the publication on its day of release the promotion for the Rialto, Coventry Street London presentation.

    For those readers unable to decipher the accompanying Cecil Wilson 'Daily Mail' review,
    Mr. Wilson's contribution to this Britmovie thread reads, quote, "It tells the familiar story of the newly hatched swinging chick let loose on modern is all very smart, lush, and gay with some attractive London landscape to break up the small talk".

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: England Elaine's Avatar
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    What about Georgy Girl or Darling. They where both films of the sixties, showing all that was good and bad about that time. And I have heard of them.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: UK Joe Fraguela's Avatar
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    Amongst my many film posters I have one for Joanna (1968)

  9. #9
    Senior Member Country: UK Freddy's Avatar
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    Pop Goes Art by popgoesart

    The story of Genevieve Waite who played Joanna

  10. #10
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    I see that one of the cast is David Scheuer - he's Mike Sarne's brother.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Country: Europe Bernardo's Avatar
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    It takes an Italian Director:- Blow-Up (1966) - IMDb I believe he covers it all there: Girls, Fashion, Colour, Music (if you like The Yardbirds), Life-Style even has a decent story thrown in.
    Last edited by Bernardo; 14-09-11 at 11:49 PM.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Country: Australia wadsy's Avatar
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