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1960's Films in Britain

But in Billy's aspirations to be a writer of lyrics and television scripts, in his grandiose daydreams and lies, and in Liz's iconic departure, the emerging youth culture and its Mecca, Swinging London, are now evoked as possible means of escape from the dreariness of his life--even if Billy himself is unable to seize them.

Although it is often claimed that the "myth of Swinging London was actually an invention of Time magazine" the nature of London had already begun to change in the mid-1950s (Sayre 15). In fact the upsurge in youth-oriented culture, while admittedly affecting only a part of the population, had already begun to be formed into a commercially valuable image the previous year in articles in the Daily Mail and the new swinging magazine, London Life. Indeed, as early as 1957, Mary Quant had opened her first boutique in the King's Road, Carnaby street was being transformed, and the Soho Fairs "provided a public focus" for the opting out of beatniks and ravers (Murphy 139). Although most of London was less than swinging the massive exit of middle-class Londoners in the 1950s was replaced by a continuous influx of young people from other regions and by a large population of Commonwealth citizens so that London did, in fact, become a more youthful and cosmopolitan city. After Billy Liar the focus of films about youth switched from the grim and stifling realities that characterized both success and failure in the North to the potential inherent in the youth culture centered in London.

Richard Lester, like Schlesinger, first worked as a television director but hit his stride with the first of his two Beatles films A Hard Day's Night in 1964. This was followed by The Knack . . . and How to Get It and Help in 1965 and all three films were made in little over a year. A Hard Day's Night brought the Beatles to the screen in a manner that was to set the style for youth-oriented films for the next few years. Some critics ...

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1960's Films in Britain. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:33, August 20, 2017, from
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