THE BIG SWITCH
Color, 1969, 76m.
Directed by Pete Walker
Starring Sebastian Breaks, Virginia Wetherell, Jack Allen, Derek Aylward
BFI (DVD & Blu-Ray, UK R0 PAL/HD)
Paired up with this film on the BFI’s release is the slightly earlier The Big Switch, another Walker crime outing about a cavalier party animal named John Carter (The Night Digger’s Breaks) who, apparently having never seen The 39 Steps, goes home with a beautiful woman only to find her dead after he slips out for a pack of smokes. He’s fired from his job shortly afterwards and becomes entangled with a variety of shady characters and beautiful women (including Wetherell again), ultimately forced into the underworld of pornography where a larger criminal plot is looking to ensnare him. Nudity and exploitation takes a front seat here ahead of the crime elements, but Walker keeps the proceedings clipping along nicely and delivers a solid dockside climax. The BFI version can be viewed in either the UK version (68 minutes) or the longer, saucier export version which adds an additional nine minutes of salacious material, which includes an entirely different credit sequence with the export version wasting no time getting down to the nitty gritty. Obviously 99% of consumers will opt for the latter option.
Both films are transferred in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio of the original negatives (though they could have probably been matted to 1.66:1 at least without losing anything), and the quality is spectacular. Both look absolutely fresh and vivid with nary a flaw in sight even if the budgets were obviously limited. Optional English subtitles are included and come in quite handy during some of the rougher-sounding passages. Extras include theatrical trailers for both feature, an alternate title card for Man of Violence, and a 26-page booklet featuring new essays from Walker himself, Cathi Unsworth, frequent Walker writer David MacGillivray, and Julian Petley.