About This Item

Preview Image for Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny & Girly
Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny & Girly (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000131740
Added by: David Beckett
Added on: 12/7/2010 13:34
View Changes

Other Reviews, etc
  • Log in to Add Reviews, Videos, Etc
  • Places to Buy

    Searching for products...

    Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny & Girly

    7 / 10

    Freddie Francis, known predominantly as a cinematographer, is one of the great names in contemporary British horror cinema having worked in Hammer Studios and Amicus Productions, directing such movies as The Evil of Frankenstein, Paranoiac and Dracula Has Risen from the Grave as well as working on more well-known films such as Dune, The Elephant Man and The Straight Story on which he was David Lynch's director of photography. As a cinematographer, his work is extremely highly regarded and he has two Oscars to show for it; one for Sons and Lovers and another for Glory. You can see how his career had a slightly schizophrenic nature to it as he would spend several months working on a high budget project which would hope to pick up many awards and then slightly less time on another which would do well to break even, such as The Deadly Bees.

    One of the films he made in his early directorial period was Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny & Girly, an extremely odd film that didn't really catch light at the box office yet has garnered a reputation as one of the more interesting and thought-provoking films to come out of Britain in the early 1970s. Based on the novel by Brian Comport which was turned into the play 'Happy Family' by Maisie Mosco and then subsequently written for the screen by Comport, the film surrounds a bizarre family comprising the titular matriarchs and their two 'children', Sonny and Girly who, even though they are all grown up, still act as young children and dress in school uniforms when they go out to play. The two children find adult playmates who they take home to play with and, when the kids are sick and tired of them, their friend is despatched in an unusual fashion and 'sent to the angels'.

    Inline Image

    One day, playing at a playground, they meet up with a man and his girlfriend and, when they are on the slide, the man's girlfriend forced to her death and they make him feel responsible. Fearing that, if he is caught by the police, he will be found guilty of murder, the man agrees to go back to their house and continue to play with them there. What follows is a perfect exercise in creating the weird and macabre in an almost picture perfect setting. Just as there was something extremely weird about someone playing snooker on horseback in Sir Henry at Rawlinson End, there is something extremely bizarre and sinister in the scene in which dolls are placed in front of each pocket on the snooker table and have balls smashed their way, almost as a warning to "New Friend" and that they have murderous intentions.

    "New Friend" clearly has eyes for Girly and so wants to play games of a more adult nature, taking advantage of the lack of a patriarch in the house. Slowly but surely, the household begins to disintegrate and, far from being a playmate, "New Friend" begins to fill the void left behind when the father disappeared. As he also has ambitions to make Girly not a daughter figure, but a lover, sparks begin to fly between him and Sonny, Mumsy and Nanny and you know that it's only a matter of time before someone is 'sent to the angels'.

    Inline Image

    Nanny, Sonny & Girly is an extremely peculiar film and one of that has a distinctly British feel to it. It is probably the school uniforms coupled with the cut glass accents and the sprawling, slightly decrepit, mansion (actually Oakley Court in Berkshire, the home of such great Hammer horror films as Plague of the Zombies, The Reptile and And Now the Screaming Starts!, as well as being the mansion in The Rocky Horror Picture Show) that is just so extremely English. This isn't exactly a disturbing horror film, nor one that has many jumps   aural stabs, it is just a film that is extremely strange, weird and leaves you with a sense of unease when it finishes.

    If Freddie Francis achieved anything with this film, it was to reinforce that oft held stereotype that the upper classes are somehow removed from the rest of us with extremely unusual behaviour. Certainly, if you look for another film with 'nanny' in the title, probably the first one you will come across is that 1965 Seth Holt film with Bette Davis in the title role which just shows, if Joey's behaviour is anything to go by, how screwed up some of the upper classes can be! Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny & Girly is a fascinating and enjoyable British horror movie that really revels in the macabre with a brilliant performance by Vanessa Howard at its centre.

    The Disc

    Extra Features
    Clearly there wasn't an academic  or film historian available at the right price so all the film has are a couple of trailers, the American opening credits, which have the film just as Girly and a trailer reel for other releases from Odeon Entertainment.

    The Picture
    The big boast of this release is that this is the first time it has been released in widescreen and the 1.78:1 anamorphic picture is quite bright and clear although a little soft and far from as sharp as it could be. The front cover says that it has been digitally remastered so I imagine that this is as good as it's going to look so it's hard to be too harsh on the film.

    The costumes and set decoration are all excellent and really help to make the film as weird as it is - it just wouldn't seem the same without the period costumes.

    Inline Image

    The Sound
    A crystal clear Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono soundtrack with a wonderful score by Bernard Ebbinghouse and terrific enunciation by all of the principal cast members so there isn't a problem with making out what the characters are saying. One of the reasons the film works as well as it does is the juxtaposition between the well spoken people with their 'posh' clothes and their utterly peculiar and repellent behaviour.

    Inline Image

    Final Thoughts
    Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny & Girly is a strangely compelling movie that draws you in thanks to the wonderful performances by the principal cast and the oddly likeable characters who, thanks to their extremely off the wall behaviour, are extremely interesting so you can't help but want to see what they would get up to next. As the film begins with the previous "New Friend" being buried in the sand pit, you really want to see what happens when they coerce another into joining them.

    As the Digitally Remastered Special Edition, this is a fine looking film from a director with a keen visual eye who spent most of his time as a cinematographer rather than a director and it shows in the composition and lighting. Although the picture isn't perfect, it is as good as it is ever going to get the audio quality is superb. There aren't a great deal of extra features but what there are worth a look. In that department, it is a case of 'could do better', especially as the American release has a 30 minute interview with Freddie Francis. In any case, it is great to have this released in the UK in a remastered anamorphic widescreen format.

    Your Opinions and Comments

    Be the first to post a comment!