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.

Stop Me If You Have Heard This One Before - The Family Way

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Is Murray Head a singer or an actor? Well his mid 60s classic single She Was Perfection aside, I am personally not a huge fan of his music. But as for his films, well there are two real gems in which he starred. Sunday Bloody Sunday - which had nothing to do with 1972 Derry shooting but is a complex relationship piece that also stars Glenda Jackson. Then more importantly for us Smiths fans he also appeared in the grim up north classic from 1966 - The Family Way. It is clear from the film that the sixties are certainly not swinging in Bolton for the movie follows a pair of newlyweds (Hywel Bennet and Hayley Mills) as they seek to consummate their marriage in the face of constant disruption from Bennett's parents and younger brother- played by Murray Head. The movie's best known scene features Head accidentally walking in on a naked Hayley Mills in the bath where he then utters the immortal line - let me know if you need back-scrubber (which may have been the inspiration for a line in Half A Person). The film also features other Moz favourites in Liz Fraser, Wilfred Pickles and John Mills. To be honest the film hasn't aged that well, but is is a fascinating snap shot of what life was like in the north west of England at the time. A still from the film also features on the single of I Started Something I Couldn't Finish (IMO by some distance the worst Smiths single). Oh and that's a Beatle on the soundtrack too. Clip from The Family Way