The British films that inspired The Smiths’ record sleeves

Ashley features, Gallery, Music, Timewarp Leave a Comment

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 - The Leather Boys

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Were The Smiths Mods or Rockers? While Johnny's Motown obsession, Roger McGuinn guitar and sharp threads seem to put him in the former camp, Morrissey with his championing of Elvis and this movie clearly has a huge interest in rocker culture. The Leather Boys, another kitchen sink drama with a strong gay storyline, is a remarkable film. In fact it was very brave move for the studio who made it too for when it was shot in 1964 it was illegal tor two men to have a sexual relationship and you could be locked up, or blackmailed (see the movie Victim) for your sexuality. The Leather Boys, along with Victim is one of the first British movies to acknowledge that gay people exist. It follows the lives of Reggie (Colin Campbell the star of the sleeve) as he comes to terms with his failing marriage to another Moz fave Rita Tushingham. Reggie then hooks up with a biker called Pete, brilliantly played by Dudley Sutton, who encourages him to leave his wife. It takes the rest of the film for Reggie to work out that his new best mate is actually gay and wants a relationship with him.The extraordinary last scene has Reggie just about to leave for a new life in America with Pete, waiting for his pal in a bar full of men. The penny finally drops that Pete is gay and Reggie slips away presumably back to his wife. The Leather Boys scores so many Moz points it is off the scale. As well as the gay influence on the plot and Tushingham, it also features Coronation Street's Mike Baldwin (Johnny Briggs) in a minor role. Then there's the biker culture which includes a visit to the London rocker mecca of the time The Ace Cafe, as well as a quick sojourn in Bognor Regis Butlins camp. Not surprisingly then Morrissey chose to feature clips of the movie in the video of Girlfriend In A Coma. Sutton went on to enjoy a long career mainly in British TV. Campbell never quite delivered on the promise of the film but managed to rack up a fair number of small parts in British movies such as My Beautiful Launderette and Another Time, Another Place. The Leather Boys is a wonderful film that perfectly captures a nation that even in the early 60s still definitely wasn't swinging. Some of the best moments from the film