"There are occasions when an image will instantly take me back to a time and place in my past and I'll be reminded of both the romantic and wild man I once was in my abandoned and misspent youth.
I'll never forget the very first time my eyes were allowed to feast on the sight of a naked man and woman together and although I didn't understand one word the couple in the bath spoke to each other while washing each other's back, I couldn't care a fiddler's fart.
I was just short of five feet and four inches in height and barely 15 years of age at the time, when along with two other work friends we all managed to get into a foreign film with French sub-titles in Leeds; pretending to pass as three 18-year-olds.
Now I need to explain that at that time (1957), the usual scenes adopted by British film producers was to show an amorous couple entering a bedroom and seeing the door close behind them. Nothing else was required for cinema goers to ogle over in order to know what had taken place behind closed doors. Subsequently, between the start of the 20th century and 1960, nothing else was shown. The following morning the beaming face of the satisfied woman awakening in bed as the sun streamed through the window was all that was needed to indicate that a good time was had by all.
Please note that there were no such thing as 'quickies' in those days. Even the shortest of romances involved an overnight stay during which the only 'promise' that the chap was on was nothing less than the purchase of an engagement ring from his next wage packet and a lifelong-marriage commitment or nothing at all! There was no such option then as one having one's cake and eating it, which is more common practice today. If you tasted the goods, you were expected to buy them outright. There was a no return policy!
It was to be 1960 when 'Saturday Night and Sunday Morning' hit the screens and was followed in 1962 with 'A kind of Loving.' Along with the introduction of 'the pill' in 1960s and the ushering in of the hippies era and the spreading of 'free love' that followed. Nothing ever seemed quite the same again and all innocence was forever lost.
But I do love being reminded of a much gentler and more refined time when going to the cinema was a wholesome and rewarding experience. These were the days where the morals of the movie goer still remained moored to Christian convention and everyone knew when 'the line was being crossed' between the characters played by the lead movie stars. While cinema goers enjoyed their few hours of escapement, none were ever left in doubt as to the distinction between fact and fiction; what life was like both off and on screen!
Who could possibly forget the moral dilemma posed by Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard when they starred in that marvellous film of 1945, 'Brief Encounter' and in particular, how this couple dealt with it? Little did the playwright Noel Coward realise in 1936 when he penned a one-act play called 'Still Night' just what part he'd go on to play in transforming the steamy scenes of lovers then to those we are more prone to see today, with no more than the simple props of a railway station, a frustrated doctor, a bored housewife with a conscience, a bit of temptation, a tender kiss, a moral dilemma and a nosey neighbour thrown in for good measure.
Who will ever forget those cosy scenes between Dr Alec Harvey and the bored middle-class housewife and mother Joyce Carey, as they talked sweet talk over their cups of tea taken in the refreshment rooms of Milford Junction Train Station (Filmed at Carnforth Railway Station), before they each went back home for the day to their different destinations, while in the background of the refreshment room, Stanley Holloway chatted up the old biddy who served the tea and scones behind the counter.
And who could possibly forget that parting scene towards the film's end which brought out all the hankerchiefs of female-weeping viewers and their whimpering and sniffling male escorts as Doctor Alec Harvey and housewife Joyce Carey said their final goodbyes. The film closed as all wholesome films did in those days of moral certainty when we saw her pipe-smoking cuckold husband reading his newspaper in his homely armchair by the fireside while she took up her knitting needles once more as the evening train could be heard to pass by in the distance. They certainly don't make them like that anymore, do they? Cut and can it! That's a take!" William Forde: May 4th, 2014.