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Image Entertainment presents
Secrets of a Windmill Girl (1966)

"The Windmill girls, they were so gay, but now it's over, they've gone away. Gone is the laughter, so warm and so bright, we never close, come and see us tonight..."
- opening theme, sung by Valerie Mitchell

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: December 14, 2004

Stars: Pauline Collins, April Wilding
Other Stars: Renee Houston, Derek Bond, Harry Fowler, Howard Marion-Crawford, Peter Swanwick, Martin Jarvis, Leon Cortez, Peter Gordeno
Director: Arnold L. Miller

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, language)
Run Time: 01h:27:13
Release Date: November 30, 2004
UPC: 014381093124
Genre: late night

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C C-B+B C-

DVD Review

Since discovering her in the 1970s in TV series such as No Honestly and Upstairs, Downstairs (both costarring husband John Alderton), I have been a Pauline Collins fan. This 1966 entry marks her film debut, and only her second on-screen appearance. Written and directed by Arnold Louis Miller (who also produced such memorable films as Nudes of the World, Take Off Your Clothes and Live, and Sex Farm) Secrets of a Windmill Girl tells the sordid tale of the rise and fall of a young dancer at London's famed Windmill Theater, a variety and burlesque club noted for being the only West End theater to remain open continuously during the blitz in the Second World War—"We Never Closed" become their motto, even if it wasn't completely accurate. The Windmill, which did close its doors for good after 33 years in 1964, also saw early performances in the careers of the likes of Peter Sellers, Jimmy Edwards, Jean Kent, Sir Harry Secombe, and Dick Emery.

When Pat Lord (Collins) is killed in a car accident after a drunken joyride, a police inspector contacts her former and lifelong best friend, Linda (April Wilding), in an effort to find out more about the girl, his reasons unknown. Linda recounts their life together, telling Pat's story as she and Linda leave a job at a shoe store to become dancers at the Windmill Theater. Life as a Windmill girl is a glamorous and prestigious affair. Never content to be just one of the girls, Pat naïvely hooks up with an older producer who promises her a part in a more respectable show, only to discover the truth later on. As the London club scene evolves into a collection of strip clubs and the Windmill closes, Pat's only option when it comes to work is dealing with the seedy strip club agents, sending her on a downward spiral.

While somewhat interesting for its historical information, Secrets of a Windmill Girl is painful to watch, comparable to Verhouven's Show Girls, but even worse and with less nudity. The story unfolds between a series of embarrassing and unrelated stage numbers featuring comedians and badly lip synced musicians that are never introduced. The central dance piece is reprised three times during the runtime, which is about he only titlating footage seen. With the Windmill closed, Pat's downfall consists of a series of humiliating sequences that end with the dancer yelling at a room full of leering old men that she will be a star, and that she refuses to disrobe. The party sequences are shot in a hand-held, semi-psychedelic style, which may have seemed hip in its day, but doesn't hold up well.

Even this early on, Collins' stage presence vastly outshines those around her, however in this case, it isn't saying much. What is interesting is that Collins' character is very much the same as she would appear in later, and far better, productions—cocky, boistrous, and always the center of attention. Her costars are wooden, everything seems forced, and there is no flow. All in all better than Valium. This one is for die-hard Collins fans only.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Image quality is respectable throughout, with only moderate source defects. Colors are relatively strong, but some scenes do tend to shift in hue, having a slight color cast to them. The look is on the soft side, grain is present, but natural looking, and there are no signs of compression artifacts. For its age, it holds up well.

Ignore the black-and-white designation on the back cover.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is quite good all things considered. Dialogue is easy to discern, the tonal coverage is fine considering the production timeframe, and there is only a slight distrtion in the soundtrack, which sounds like it originates in the source.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 14 cues
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Extras are limited to a collection of still images presented as a 1m:22s slideshow, featuring poster art, lobby cards, and advertising material.

The insert contains a lengthy essay on Jezebel's release philosophy.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

Secrets of a Windmill Girl would long be forgotten were it not the debut of Pauline Collins, and for that reason alone it is worth a viewing for fans. Jezebel has done a decent job in the presentation, so those needing it in their collections can add it without hesitation.


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