There’s something fascinating about this nine-minute silent black-and-white reel shot inside an East End pub, where the men are watching a stripper perform in a talent contest. Rather than gaze at the woman as she undresses, the cameraman focuses on the intently watching men and picks out several extraordinary faces as well as brilliantly capturing the rising tension. It’s a minor marvel, and was originally shot for use in a film by Joan Littlewood about London leisure.
This footage was shot for a film to support theatre director and filmmaker Joan Littlewood's idea for a 'Fun Palace' - a huge movable construction that would house education and entertainment attractions. In 1963 Littlewood shot 60 reels of 16mm rushes around London to show what people currently did for leisure and to demonstrate that something else was needed. This is one of several reels available to watch on BFI Player. The film was finished but is now lost, and sadly Joan's Fun Palace never got built. However, the rushes paint a fantastic picture of the period, with many expertly filmed by cameraman Walter Lassally, who also shot We are the Lambeth Boys and A Taste of Honey.