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Case Number 18625: Small Claims Court

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Girly

Scorpion Releasing // 1970 // 101 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker (Retired) // March 30th, 2010

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All Rise...

Here comes Appellate Judge Tom Becker...to chop off your head.

The Charge

Rule Number 1: Play the Game.

The Case

Girly (Vanessa Howard) lives in a big, old house with Sonny (Howard Trevor), Mumsy (Ursula Howells), and Nanny (Pat Heywood). Save for the lack of a father, they are the perfect British family.

"Dear children" Sonny and Girly enjoy making new friends. They often go to the park and find new playmates to bring home—usually, gentlemen who are a bit down on their luck. Once there, the New Friends get to engage in all sorts of games. What they don't get to do is move about freely—or leave. Sometimes, the New Friends forget that every household has rules. When they break the rules, it displeases Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny, and Girly, and sometimes they send their New Friends to stay with the angels.

Then, Sonny and Girly bring home a new New Friend (Michael Bryant, The Ruling Class), a decadent party boy whom they've convinced has committed a crime. While other New Friends are a bit down on the heels and slow witted, this newest New Friend catches onto the games pretty quickly. He also catches the eye of Mumsy.

And Nanny.

And Girly.

Which doesn't go at all unnoticed by Sonny, and threatens to shake up the happiness of this "happy family."

One of the best of the bizarre late '60s/early '70s Brit psycho-horror-comedy entries, Girly (a.k.a. Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny, & Girly) is a macabre and highly entertaining tale directed by the great Freddie Francis. Francis won a pair of Oscars for his work as a cinematographer (Sons and Lovers and Glory), and as a director, has a steamer trunk full of cult cred, including Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, The Deadly Bees, Torture Garden, Tales That Witness Madness, and Joan Crawford's monkey-shining swan song, Trog.

Girly is a sly and sordid film about perversions and power games, a mad take on proper society, the sanctity of family, and the alleged purity of childhood. Based on a play (Happy Family by Maisie Mosco), its witty, literate dialogue and absurd situations are reminiscent of Joe Orton's work, though Girly is a far better film than the couple of Orton plays that made it to the big screen (Entertaining Mr. Sloane and Loot). The cheerfully dark and clever script was adapted by Brian Comport (The Asphyx) and consistently hits its marks.

Vanessa Howard made only a handful of films before quitting acting in the early '70s. As the disturbed and disturbing Girly, she is eerily beautiful and effortlessly dangerous. A young fantasy woman in schoolgirl's clothes, she's sexy menace and innocence corrupted. It's really a fine performance, and a real shame that Howard didn't go on to bigger things.

The rest of the cast is equally fine. Girly is Howard Trevor's only credit, and he brings an alarming unfettered little-boy quality to the overgrown Sonny. As Mumsy, Ursula Howells is a disarmingly prim seductress, and Pat Heywood's deranged Nanny is alternately chilling and hilarious. Michael Bryant is quite good as the victim/hustler who's more on the ball than most of Girly's guests.

Scorpion Releasing does a good job with this disc. The print here has seen better days. It's in mediocre shape, with speckles, nicks, and some softness. Audio is a slightly tinny mono track.

We do get a nice slate of extras. "Comport on Comport" is a lengthy interview with with writer Brian Comport. It's an interesting, leisurely chat, filled with fun anecdotes. An audio-only interview with Freddie Francis is also worth a listen. In addition, we get the theatrical trailer, plus the Spanish theatrical trailer, a TV spot, and an alternate title card—Girly is the film's American title; it plays here under its original, longer name.

The Verdict

A true original, Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny, & Girly is nasty fun. Well worth a look.

Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: Scorpion Releasing
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Release Year: 1970
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Genres:
• Comedy
• Crime
• Cult
• Foreign
• Horror
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Interviews
• Alternate Title Card
• Trailers

Accomplices

• IMDb








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