It 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.
How Soon Is Now - Dunkirk
For most of the 1950s British war films tended to be upbeat celebrations of the fact that 1 we won the war 2 it was our great national charactar that gave us victory. So the movies tended to feature chirpy working class fellas struggling heroically as their posh but likeable patrician officers agonised over tough decisions. By the end of the decade the low key nationalism of The Cruel Sea and The Dambusters had given way to a more realistic appraisal of WW2, hence the movie which graces the cover of How Soon Is Now Dunkirk. The film features the story of Corporal "Tubby" Binns (played by you guessed it John Mills) and his attempt to escape the ongoing German army and get back to Blighty. Dunkirk was a breakthrough at the time for not focusing on what was British failure - from a military point of view at least - but also in the way that it was clear that armed forces didn't have a clue what was going on. It also breaks ranks with a sub plot that showed how some civilians were not all pulling together for the comoun good, but were actually using the war to further their business interests. The single's cover features Sean Barrett on the beaches of Dunkirk waiting to be rescued. He is actually praying at the time, though weirdly the Smiths' US record company through that he might be fiddling with crotch and rejected the cover. The film was a huge success in 1958 but doesn't get revived too often these days and is very rarely mentioned in lists of classic British war films. Barrett, like a lot of Morrissey's 60s heroes, ended up as TV actor and even showed up in an episode of Father Ted.Dunkirk - whole film