Filmed among the ruins of the Crystal Palace Terraces, The Pleasure Garden is a playful and poetic ode to desire, and winner of the Prix de Fantaisie Poétique at Cannes in 1954.
Made by the American poet James Broughton, the film features Hattie Jacques and Lindsay Anderson, with John Le Mesurier as the bureaucrat determined to stamp on any form of free expression. Photography is by Walter Lassally who went on to become a key figure in the British New Wave.
Lovers of the history of Crystal Palace will find much to treasure in this 1950s time capsule of a film, which shows the Crystal Colonnade and the bandstand (both later demolished), the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Memorial, and much of the statuary which was to be auctioned off in 1957.
The history of the Crystal Palace also comes alive in The Phoenix Tower, which is included here as an extra feature. This rare 1957 film, about the building of the BBC Transmission Tower, was one of a number of short subject colour films to be shown on BBC2 as a 'test trade transmission', and has become something of a 'lost' film since.
The Pleasure Garden will be released on UK DVD on 15th February 2010 by the BFI at the RRP of £15.99. Special features are:
- The Phoenix Tower (1957, 39 mins), a short documentary charting the construction of the BBC's Crystal Palace Television Tower;
- Illustrated booklet with film notes, an original review and a history of the Crystal Palace.