The Girl Chewing Gum (1976)

John Smith directs the residents on a street in Dalston as they pass his camera in this black-and-white avant-garde film.

Two shots: the first is a documentary long take of people going about their business on a Saturday afternoon while a narrator / director instructs them of their cue to enter the shot. Orchestrating the minimalist hustle and bustle of Seventies London high street life. As the spoken control of the passing street population continues, the instruction become more self-aware and God like, then also the tone begins to contain a sense of frantic desperation. You can approach it as a wonderful little time capsule of a British city… or as a meta commentary on filmmaking as a means of control over time and environment. Command and surveillance mixed with the absurd. I have read that Smith intended it as a rebuff of the then new racially motivated Stop And Search policy of the Metropolitan Police. This is the second time I’ve watched these gloriously fascinating, deceptively simple, 12 minutes. One of my favourite short films. I shan’t ruin the second shot.


Perfect Double Bill: London (1994)

Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog

SWe also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here

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