Most people think of the 1960s as a sort of technicolor, hippie, war protester, drug fueled time. That was actually the late 60s. The early 60s were just barely moving out of an Ozzie and Harriet world. Things that would barely ruffle feathers on the family channel today, were a cause of shock and dismay then. Motion pictures of the time were just starting to push the limits with the daring, black and white "New Wave" films that explored shocking themes and working class unglamorous characters. You almost never really "saw" anything more daring than a kiss, but you "knew" what was going on.
The British films of the type that became hits in the states were ones such as Alfie, Georgie Girl, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, and the one that fits today's Manic Monday theme: A Taste of Honey. Based on a play from the 1950s, it is still a favored play for small theater groups. It was a major shocker when it hit the theaters. It had everything: unmarried sex, inter racial relationship, unwed pregnancy, and homosexuality. Even worse it was tender, sweet, sad, and funny with very flawed characters and great acting . If you were Catholic, you had to go to confession just for watching it. Here is the IMDB plot summary.
What makes this movie a standout is the incredible acting and reality of the working class characters, including the BAFTA Award for Best Actress that went to Rita Tushingham. Unfortunately, it is only available of video tape except in Britain, and the British DVDs don't work on North American machines. It is available on You Tube, but you have to watch it in ten minute doses starting HERE. Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7; Part 8; Part 9. If not watching it here, keep an eye out on TMC.
Jo (Rita Tushingham) is an awkward, shy 17-year-old girl living with her promiscuous alcoholic mother, Helen (Dora Bryan). Desperately longing to simply be loved, when her mother's latest "romance" drives Jo out of their apartment, she spends the night with a black sailor on a brief shore leave. But when Jo's mother abandons her to move in with her latest lover, Jo finds a job and a room for herself, meets Geoffrey (Murray Melvin), a shy and lonely homosexual, and allows him to share her flat. When she discovers that she is pregnant with the sailor's child, Geoffrey, grateful for her friendship, looks after her, even offering marriage. Their brief taste of happiness is short-lived for Jo's fickle and domineering mother, her own romantic hopes dashed, appears on the scene, determined to drive the gentle Geoffrey from the flat and take over the care of her daughter, rearranging everything to suit herself.
The title song was an instrumental hit for Herb Alpert and was later recorded by the Beatles during the German nightclub period.