Xmas. Old feature films. You’ve probably had your fill of them for the next few months. But I’ve found a very enjoyable local feature-film, one that I hadn’t known about before, which might interest. It’s undoubtedly the best movie we’ve ever made about ourselves (although admittedly there are only a very small number to choose from). Slade in Flame has lashings of uncompromisingly strong early-1970s Black Country dialect, and no subtitles, so it’s not a film that travels well. But I could understand it all perfectly, and found it was very far from your usual 1970s rock band bop-about cash-in movie. It’s an extremely well made and scripted social realist tale of how one fictional band rose from the gritty Black Country backstreets and seedy clubs to national fame. But it’s social realist in a genuine “we’re ‘aving a laff a minute” working-class lads comedy way, not a grim slab of middle-class socialist agitprop. Well worth seeing, and the band were natural actors. Over the decades there have been many claims that it’s “the best rock movie ever made”, and I’ve certainly not seen more than a couple that are better than this.

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There are some crappy VHS/DVDs and other copies knocking about. The only one worth getting is the remastered Cinemascope version on DVD, which is the only place you’ll get the movie in its original form. Even the BBC screening (there’s one online somewhere) was cropped from the original super-widescreen Cinemascope. All the others are either badly cropped and/or missing bits. Be careful of the “used” copies of this on Amazon, as the sellers may not be able to distinguish between the crappy older versions and this “collector’s” DVD.

Someone really needs to make some subtitles, though, so that the world beyond the Wolverhampton/Stourbridge/Solihull triangle can understand what’s being said. There are none on any of the DVDs and none online. Perhaps Wolverhampton’s Deaf Film Fest could get a small £150 grant to do that, and then release them as Creative Commons?