Directed by: Barney Platts-Mills
Countries & Regions: United Kingdom
Studio: British Film Institute
Length: 87 mins
Region: Region 0
Released: 22 June 2015
Cat No: BFIV2046
Hard of Hearing Subtitles: English
Screen ratio 1:1.33
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Also available on Blu-ray
Barney Platts-Mills writes and directs this cult drama featuring untrained actors from the East End of London. The story follows... Read More
Drawing more from the influence of the social realist ‘Free Cinema’ and the French Nouvelle Vague than the frothy psychedelia of its ‘Swinging Sixties’ contemporaries, Bronco Bullfrog was filmed on a miniscule budget of £18,000 with a cast of non-professional actors in and around London’s East End in 1969. It tells the story of Del (Del Walker, a spotty Dave Davies) and his friends, an affable gang of adolescent delinquents roaming the fringes of criminal activity. Their involvement with the eponymous Bronco - just back from Borstal - ups the ante, as he draws them into a major blag – raiding a goods train for a haul of electric blankets!
Subtly laced with laconic humour and a raw, minimalist charm, Bronco Bullfrog is impressive in its depiction of a teenage wasteland, reflecting not just the kitchen sink grittiness of its New Wave predecessors but also the petty violence and urban disaffection of contemporary Mod culture. With its improvisatory, character-driven style and primitive, observational naturalism, it evokes – satisfyingly – the cinema of social work rather than the artistic contrivances of conventional narrative film.
In many ways we are lucky to be able to see Bronco Bullfrog at all. Left on the shelf for over a year, its distribution was uneven to say the least; it was barely shown outside a few London cinemas, despite making a small, if belated, impact at Cannes. Channel 4 aired the film twenty years ago, back in the days when it proudly boasted its ‘minority interest’ credentials, but since then Bronco has not been seen on terrestrial television. Most alarmingly, Platts-Mills has recounted that the 35mm negative of the film was only rescued for the archives when an employee at the bankrupt Humphries Laboratories found it on a rubbish pile. Now at least, thanks to the medium of DVD, Britain’s record for neglecting much of its celluloid heritage is finally being addressed. Hopefully, this will establish Bronco Bullfrog in its rightful place as a low-key but important example of British neo-realist cinema.