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The Pleasure Garden & Phoenix Tower
This DVD is a British Film Institute and Crystal Palace Foundation joint production
The two films are on the same DVD and accompanied by a 16 page information booklet describing both films.
The Pleasure Garden
James Broughton’s ‘valentine to the land of Edward Lear, Shakespeare and pantomime’ is a thoroughly charming celebration of love and desire that fascinates as much because of its location – the ruins of the Crystal Palace gardens and terraces in 1952 – as its subject.
John le Mesurier plays the frock-coated Minister of Public Behaviour, Col. Pall K. Gargoyle, determined to stamp out the least sign of indecency or lewdness in the place he wants to turn into a cemetery. When not putting ‘Do Not’ signs around the place, he is attaching fig leaves to statuary. Fortunately, there is a fairy godmother – a Mrs. Albion, played by Hattie Jacques – who comes along in his wake and sets the characters in the park skipping, loving and dancing once more with the aid of her magic scarf.
A classic piece not-entirely-innocent 1950s Bohemia, The Pleasure Garden won the Prix de Fantaisie Poetique at Cannes in 1954, and is an irresistible time capsule for viewers now.
This classic film has acquired a charm and innocence which makes it irresitable to modern audiences.
Lovers of the history of Crystal Palace will also find much to treasure in this 1950s time capsule of a film, which shows the Crystal Colannade and the bandstand (both later demolished), the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Trophy (in its original position), and much of the statuary which was to be auctioned off in 1957.
The Pleasure Garden won the Prix de Fantaisie Poetique at Cannes in 1954.
UK 1952 Black and White 37 Mins approx. (Limited stocks of the video version of this film are still available from us at £4.00).
The Phoenix Tower
At the northern end of the Crystal Palace site in Sydenham stands one of the greatest engineering achievements of post-war Britain – The Crystal Palace Television Tower.
Until the disastrous fire of 1936 Sir Joseph Paxton’s huge glass Palace stood on the site.
There is something for both engineers and historians in the film.
For lovers of the graceful elegance of television towers the film shows the design, construction and ‘topping-out’ of the 720ft tall 120ft wide tower.
For aficionados of Crystal Palace history, views can be seen of the terraces, statuary and the basement areas of the Palace itself.
The tower began operating on 21 December 1957 and since then has provided most of London and Southeast England with television.
The film (known affectionately as the ‘Phoenix Tower’) was originally produced in 16mm format by the company erecting the tower – British Insulated Callenders Cables. The company was broken up some years ago and split between the Pirelli and Balfour Beatty Groups of companies. The film was distributed by the now dissolved Viscom Audio Visual Library.
Never before available on video and from April 1964 only rarely shown to small numbers of serious enthusiasts, the video was produced from the only copy known to exist.
The Phoenix Tower was shown by the BBC between January and April 1964 as one of the test transmissions in the immediate run-up to the opening of BBC2. Colour test films were shown at 09.15, two films from 10.05 to 11.00, 12.00 and 13.00, and 15.00 to 16.00. Then there was a batch of three or four films shown from 17.00 to 20.00 (14.00 onwards on Saturdays), which always ended with a feature film up to the close of tests at 20.00. The Phoenix Tower was shown on three occasions the first on Saturday 14th March 1964 and it's final showing was Monday 13th April 1964.
The British Film Institute and The Crystal Palace Foundation gratefully acknowledges the support in this venture of John Soderburg and Peter Farrell of Pirelli International Ltd (now Prysmian Cables & Systems Ltd).
UK 1957 Black & white & colour 39 minutes. (Limited stocks of the video version of this film are still available from us at £4.00).