Secrets of a Windmill Girl (UK - 1966)

Originally released by Compton-Cameo Films

A US (Region 1) DVD release from Image Entertainment

Not a 'good' film, but an interesting one, because of the casting

and the mid-1960s sleaze atmosphere, all rendered in glorious Eastman Color ..

As for Pauline Collins ('Shirley Valentine'), the answer is 'NO ! She doesn't '......

A DVD Review seen on www....

"The Windmill girls, they were so gay, but now it's over, they've gone away.

Gone is the laughter, so warm and so bright, we never close, come and see us

tonight..." - opening theme, sung by Valerie Mitchell

Stars: Pauline Collins, April Wilding, Renee Houston, Derek Bond, Harry

Fowler, Howard Marion-Crawford, Peter

Swanwick, Martin Jarvis, Leon Cortez, Peter Gordeno (dancer)

Director: Arnold L. Miller

Run Time: 1h:27m

Since discovering her in the 1970s in TV series such as No Honestly and

Upstairs, Downstairs (both costarring husband John Alderton), I have been a

Pauline Collins fan. This 1966 entry marks her film debut, and only her

second on-screen appearance. Written and directed by Arnold Louis Miller

(who also produced such memorable films as Nudes of the World and Take Off


Clothes and Live) Secrets of a Windmill Girl tells the sordid

tale of the rise and fall of a young dancer at London's famed Windmill

Theater, a variety and burlesque club noted for being the only West End

theater to remain open continuously during the blitz in the Second World

War-"We Never Closed" become their motto, even if it wasn't completely

accurate. The Windmill, which did close its doors for good after 33 years in

1964, also saw early performances in the careers of the likes of Peter

Sellers, Jimmy Edwards, Jean Kent, Sir Harry Secombe, and Dick Emery.

When Pat Lord (Collins) is killed in a car accident after a drunken joyride,

a police inspector contacts her former and lifelong best friend, Linda

(April Wilding), in an effort to find out more about the girl, his reasons

unknown. Linda recounts their life together, telling Pat's story as she and

Linda leave a job at a shoe store to become dancers at the Windmill Theater.

Life as a Windmill girl is a glamorous and prestigious affair. Never content

to be just one of the girls, Pat naïvely hooks up with an older producer who

promises her a part in a more respectable show, only to discover the truth

later on. As the London club scene evolves into a collection of strip clubs

and the Windmill closes, Pat's only option when it comes to work is dealing

with the seedy strip club agents, sending her on a downward spiral.

While somewhat interesting for its historical information, Secrets of a

Windmill Girl is painful to watch, comparable to Verhouven's Show Girls, but

even worse and with less nudity. The story unfolds between a series of

embarrassing and unrelated stage numbers featuring comedians and badly lip

synced musicians that are never introduced. The central dance piece is

reprised three times during the runtime, which is about he only titlating

footage seen. With the Windmill closed, Pat's downfall consists of a series

of humiliating sequences that end with the dancer yelling at a room full of

leering old men that she will be a star, and that she refuses to disrobe.

The party sequences are shot in a hand-held, semi-psychedelic style, which

may have seemed hip in its day, but doesn't hold up well.

Even this early on, Collins' stage presence vastly outshines those around

her, however in this case, it isn't saying much. What is interesting is that

Collins' character is very much the same as she would appear in later, and

far better, productions-cocky, boistrous, and always the center of

attention. Her costars are wooden, everything seems forced, and there is no

flow. All in all better than Valium. This one is for die-hard Collins fans


Image quality is respectable throughout, with only moderate source defects.

Colors are relatively strong, but some scenes do tend to shift in hue,

having a slight color cast to them. The look is on the soft side, grain is

present, but natural looking, and there are no signs of compression

artifacts. For its age, it holds up well. Ignore the black-and-white

designation on the back cover.

Audio is quite good all things considered. Dialogue is easy to discern, the tonal coverage is fine considering the production

timeframe, and there is only a slight distrtion in the soundtrack, which

sounds like it originates in the source.

Disc Extras:

Animated menu with music

Scene Access with 14 cues

a collection of still images presented as a 1m:22s

slideshow, featuring poster art, lobby cards, and advertising material.

Secrets of a Windmill Girl would long be forgotten were it not the debut of

Pauline Collins, and for that reason alone it is worth a viewing for fans.

Image Ent has done a decent job in the presentation, so those needing it in

their collections can add it without hesitation.