The British films that inspired The Smiths’ record sleeves

the-smiths-the-complete-picture-originalIt is incredible to think that The Smiths were together for just five short years. In that time they managed to release four official albums, a few compilations of sessions, singles and oddities and of course, a run of some of the most amazing and unique 45s ever.

And one of the things that made The Smiths’ singles and albums so special was there sleeves. Handpicked mostly by Morrissey, they feature a series of cover stars most of whom dated from the late 50s and early 60s, and for Smiths fans they gave an real insight into the singer’s world – who his heroes were and the influences that shaped him.

Some of those cover stars were familiar, like Yootha Joyce, the star of two very successful seventies sit-coms. Others like French actor Jean Marais from Jean Cocteau’s 1949 film Orphée, were a bit more obscure.

Not surprisingly quite a number of the stars featured in British films from the 60s, so I have rounded up those covers and attempted to give a little more information about the films they came from. Most of them are very watchable – a couple of them are classics.

I have added YouTube links to each one. Two of the films are available in a full version on YouTube, the rest are clips and trailers.

Click on for the gallery and links.

Ask - Catch Us If You Can

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As every Smiths fan knows the cover star of the band's peerless 1986 single Ask was actress Yootha Joyce, but the still wasn't taken from her successful 70s sit-coms Man About The House or George and Mildred but from a decade or so earlier when she enjoyed a brief but significant film career. In fact Joyce managed to appear in several of Morrissey's favourite films - Charlie Bubbles and Sparrows Can't Sing - as well as one of the great unsung movies from the decade - Catch Us If You Can. The film doesn't get taken too seriously for one very obvious reason - it stars lovable Tottenham beat boys The Dave Clarke Five - the One Direction of their day. However if you overlook the way it was set up as an attempt to rival Hard day's Night CUIYC is actually a superb film and fascinating viewing for anyone who loves 60s pop culture. Without giving too much away the film is basically a road movie with Dave - and model Barbara Ferris in tow - as a stunt man and a model who escape their minders and head off into the wild English countryside. Along the way they hang out with some prototype hippies (this was 1965 before anyone was calling them that) go swimming in London's iconic Oasis pool and finish up at the stunning Art Deco hotel- which at that point was run down and deserted - on Burgh Island. They also pop into Bath where they meet Yootha Joyce, the wife of a socialite who quite fancies a bit of Dave. She eventually takes the gang to a fancy dress party in Bath spa. The pic was apparently taken off set. Catch Us If You Can is a fabulous film, directed in a highly imaginative way by John Boorman - later to shoot Deliverance and Hope and Glory. Had it featured some cooler stars it would undoubtedly be hailed as one of the best British movies of the decade. Catch Us If You Can Trailer

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