Monday, 4 April 2011
Exile On Planet Gonk
Ever since I started looking at the work of Robert Hartford-Davis I knew that this awful moment would come: 'Gonks Go Beat'.
Regular readers will know that Hartford-Davis' work is of, how shall we say, variable quality but 'GGB' really takes the piss.
The premise is that intergalactic ambassador Kenneth Connor is sent to Earth to resolve the ongoing conflict between two rival states, Beatland and Balladisle.
Beatland, as you may have guessed, is full of polo necks, sunglasses and hair that touches collars, and Balladisle is all ties and hushpuppies and songs with spoken middle eights that make you want to be sick. If Ken doesn't manage to heal the rift he'll be exiled to the Planet Gonk, a fearful place apparently inhabited by close cousins of Humpty Dumpty from 'Playschool', i.e. the sort of flammable spike concealing soft toys they fill the grabbers with at the fair.
It's one of the most stilted productions I've ever seen. You can get Connor and people like Frank Thornton to say 'swinging' and 'groovy' but Hartford-Davis can't get them to look anything other than deeply pained when they do. The budget is virtually non-existent, and most of the scenes look like they were shot in The Beachcomber Bar in Butlins Bognor Regis. Most of all, though, it's the awful, awful music and the ugly, ugly people, a string of sub-standard fourth division groups and singers performing derivative, boring and old-fashioned songs (the worst are co-written by Hartford-Davis himself), culminating in an appearance by Lulu. I fucking hate Lulu.
Here's a couple of clips which should settle the whole 'come on, it can't be that bad' debate. The first takes us inside Kenneth Connor's head for a while to watch the aforementioned toxic toys and a dated dance routine. Una Stubbs must have been out when they called.
The second clip comes at the 'climax' of the film, and, despite a nice array of vintage musical equipment, more than supports the maxim 'war is hell'.
That concludes our business with Robert Hartford-Davis. Thank Christ.