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Up The Junction (Blu-ray Review)

Up-The-JunctionJust before he directed The Italian Job, Peter Collinson helmed Up The Junction.  This tale of a rich woman deciding to leave that life behind and try and slide into the ranks of the working class was based upon true events.  Nell Dunn wrote a book of the same name that chronicled herself sliding in and observing the culture and life of the people in the slums of Battersea and Clapham Junction.  Before coming to the big screen, the story was adapted into a BBC miniseries 3 years prior as a part of an anthology series called The Wednesday Play.  That version had a big audience and apparently plenty of complaints about its content.  While the film didn’t do too well in the US, its soundtrack did.  And this movie’s title may indeed be more known as a song than it is a film, but I think the film deserves a second look.

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Film 

Polly has a rich and fancy life in Chelsea.  But just as we meet her she is leaving that life behind and sneakily inserting herself into the working class in Battersea.  She wants hear wealthy lifestyle to be a thing of the past and takes a job at a factory.  She befriends a pair of sisters and starts living the early 20s lifestyle of working hard and making just enough to get by.  Through her adventures she experiences what this life is like and prefers it.  She experiences work, love, sexual freedom, death and all sorts of things happening in the slums of Battersea.

While the movie is about a poorer working class, Up The Junction is absolutely filthy wealth and ripe with late 1960s British culture and fashion.  Its got a wonderful array of colors, clothes, hairstyles and the like.  As someone who really enjoys the look of this era, its almost all it needed for me to get into it.  The Brits really had it going on with cool clothes and stuff during this time and this film is a pretty great example of it.

As I did mention earlier, the film has a notable soundtrack.  Manfred Man helms most of it and their music enhances the feel and transitional periods in the film with prestige.  There are plenty of montages with which to use it and it really helps.  It made me want to buy the soundtrack to the film immediately.  The legacy of this sondtrack actually has overshadowed the film, with a popular title song and Manfred Man doing their thing.

But, the movie itself is far from a slouch.  Its a very progressive story even for today’s standards.  The film really takes to the woman and allows us to have an honest view of them.  Most of the movie is showing us how strong these sisters are and how they can and will make it on their own.  The ladies also get to be as sexually promiscuous as they’d like to be and the film never displays it as a “lesson to be learned” or anything.  And it never once allows them to be “saved by a man” or “forced”.  It feels like a very honest window peering into and watching working class women during the 1960s in Britain.

Up The Junction starts out a little slow and its not one to spoonfeed you a setup.  You never really get why Polly leaves her life behind or what it was like before.  When we start she just gets in a car, takes off and then is starting at the factory.  Here’s the thing, we don’t need any of that backstory.  What’s important is what she’s observing, experiencing and the people she’s coming into contact with.  The movie does sort of jump to here and jump to there but dramatically it all ends up working out in the end and quite a unique drama for its era.

I began worried when I started the film as it was a bit slow, but all the character building during that time was sort of fun even if it felt like unimportant party scenes and random work conversations and whatnot.  However, once the film crossed over into its second hour all of that started paying off in spades.  During its last 60 minutes the film took on some great and unique conflict, having the balls to put display what it did and really address a controversial issue and challenge friendships and morals.  This is a forgotten film, that I think many people would find delighted to re-examine or explore.  I definitely don’t think the US (at least) was ready for a film when like this when it came out.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2:35.1

Clarity/Detail:  The picture on this one looks terrific.  Not overdone and nowhere near undercooked.  It looks as if the source has not been tampered with digitally at all.  The picture is by nature a tad on the soft side, but people and objects were well defined.

Depth: There are some good instances in driving scenes and in the factory of scale.  Being in 2:35.1 provides with many wonderful shots that provide us with some good three dimensional imagery.

Black Levels:  Black levels are just right.  Olive is pretty solid with these. No detail is lost in darker sequences.

Color Reproduction: This movie features a beautiful palette of colors.  They pop, but in a more natural sense.

Flesh Tones:  There is a slight inconsistency between scenes but nothing major.  In a couple medium shots faces appeared too smooth.  In close ups, sweat beads, pores, stubble and blemishes are all super clear and present.

Noise/Artifacts:  A nice layer of grain, accompanied by a minimal amount of specs.  This print is in really good shape.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 1.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: N/A

Dynamics: Not a whole lot of analog distortion here at all.  A good clean track that has some good ranges and very nice lows.  The songs played in the film sound pretty gorgeous.  Effects are well rounded and distinct.

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clean and crisp.  It never gets lost in sound effects or score.  It also never really peaks when things get loud either.

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Extras 

If you’re playing at home, I’m going 5/5 with Olive Films having no bonus materials.  Shame, this would have been a good one to have a reflective documentary on the film, the book and culture of where and when this movie takes place.  Missed opportunity.

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Summary 

Up The Junction is a film that I’d certainly never heard of before.  Its came and went without a splash and completely disappeared.  But, thankfully Olive Films is giving it a new life.  I found this movie to be surprisingly very impressive and one that felt pretty progressive for its time.  I was sucked in by the styles of the time, but left having enjoyed quite a great character drama.  It really stinks that Olive Films doesn’t have any bonus material here, but this film is strong enough that I think people should give it a look.  And then, start your own conversations about it.  Maybe find the book from which its based.  I dunno.  Surprised as I am, I really did enjoy this one.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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