In Episode 4 we welcomed Dr Adrian Smith to discuss ‘Secrets of a Windmill Girl’, an exploitation film produced by the infamous Compton-Cameo team Michael Klinger and Tony Tenser. The two were fierce property magnets in their own right and owned, alongside their film production arm, a number of casinos and porn cinemas in Soho. They bought the Windmill Theatre in 1964 and converted it into a cinema.
The film is an attempt to ‘exploit’ their new purchase of the theatre and to ‘exploit’ what, beyond a surface level, appears to be the aftermath of the Profumo affair and the exponential explosion of porn magazines and seedy Soho. Filmed in glorious colour – the film follows a pair of friends who are desperate to be ‘windmill girls’. Though by 1964, the static nude ‘tableaux’ that made the Windmill famous (and was essentially a loophole to the Lord Chamberlain’s strict censorship on nudity) was all but gone… Soho in the mid 60s was now proliferated by porn – and as Smith elaborates on his wonderful article here, “is naive and quaint, depicting the lives of young people in the mid-sixties as filtered through the contradictory viewpoint of middle-aged men, who both gaze with desire at these sexualised women whilst simultaneously condemning them for choosing that lifestyle.”
Above is some of the Compton Films archive material relating to Secrets of a Windmill Girl that Adrian brought in to show us. To see material relating to other Compton films, click HERE.
To kick off the programme Dom attended a screening of the critically-acclaimed and award-winning documentary, “Tales from Tin-Pan Alley”, which is about the history of the UK’s only music street, Denmark Street. The alley has been devastated in recent years by the expansion of Tottenham Court Road station as part of the Crossrail project and Dom chatted to film-maker Henry Scott-Irvine about his groundbreaking film and about the historical significance of the street, one of the most important locations in London’s music history.