Bronco Bullfrog DVD+Blu-ray
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Directed by Barney Platts-Mills
Produced in 1970
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - British Film
Anne Gooding, Del Walker, Sam Shepherd
Barney Platts-Mills made Bronco Bullfrog for just £17,000 back in 1969, using kids from the East End (and their parents) with no background in acting, black and white film (because he couldn't afford colour) and real locations in the now destroyed homes of the East End and docks. Antithetical to the frothy irrelevance of late period 'swinging sixties' movies, Bronco Bullfrog explores the disenchantment of young working class lives in the East End, and went on to become a classic amongst Mod revivalists.
Two young teenagers fall in love, much to the disapproval of both sets of parents. The young lovers decide to run away so that they can spend more time together but they have nowhere to run, except the hiding place of 'Bronco Bullfrog' who has just escaped from borstal...
Length: 86 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Format: DVD+Blu-ray B&W
Released: 13th September 2010
Cat No: BFIB1064
- 2 discs
- Dual Format Edition
- Everybody’s An Actor, Shakespeare Said (1968, 30 mins): Platts-Mills’ documentary charts Joan Littlewood’s theatre work with the teenagers who would star in Bronco Bullfrog
- Joan Littlewood interview (1968, 21 mins): the formidable and outspoken theatre director discusses her career
- Seven Green Bottles (Eric Marquis, 1975, 35 mins): a cautionary tale of seven young delinquents, played by non-professional actors
- Illustrated booklet with newly commissioned essays, photographs and film credits.
by Julian Upton on 7th April 2004
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,... Read on
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.