Film ID: YFA 2796 Video of YFA 2796 Love's First Flush (1967) LOVE'S FIRST FLUSH 1967 Visitor TabsDescription This film is a comedic short about a couple as they get ready to go out for an evening. It is based on the Mackintosh's Rewards chocolates adverts which ran in the late 1960s. Featuring Antonio Akrill and Joan Lawson, the film opens with the couple meeting in the living room. The woman leaves the man seated as she goes to put on the finishing touches for their night out. Her date then prepares a present for her, a box of chocolates out of which he eats one to make room for the larger gift, a diamond necklace. The story ends with a huge toilet flush to signal the end of the woman getting ready. Context This film was made by Frank and May Webb , amateur filmmakers based in York (it is May’s poodle that appears in the opening spoof credit). Frank and May Webb ran a photography shop on Bootham, which then moved to Fossgate. The film was actually done above the shop, with the curtains used to frame displays of equipment being used as a backdrop. The film has two of their friends, Antonio (Tony) Akrill and Joan Lawson; both of whom appeared regularly at the Joseph Rowntree Youth Theatre. Frank and May Webb also helped Patrick Olsen, who worked independently but alongside this group, with his films (see the Contexts for Patrick’s films Yellow Balloon and York Mystery Plays, also on YFA Online). The film is one of many made by a group of amateur filmmakers in York. The group included Terry Sheppard, Michael Lynch, Bill Little, Peter Pink, Jack Neil (an electrician who made 8mm film), Arthur Oggleby (who made films on fishing for Yorkshire TV), Patricia Ayers, and Frank and May Webb. Some were making films from the early 1950s, including May Webb who made a series of films on her hobby of scuba diving – some of these latter films are held with the YFA. Tony Akrill came from a theatrical family; his father was a professional actor, often touring the country. His mother also came from a family involved in the theatre through providing accommodation for actors, and this is how they met. The pair of them lived in many places running cinemas before coming to York in 1951 where they run the Scala Cinema (pictures of them can be seen on display in the City Screen Cinema in York). Tony’s brother was a projectionist here, and Tony used to come home from school and watch films in the evening – an inspiration to become an actor. Tony’s first chance to act came in the Rowntree Youth Theatre as a teenager in 1950 where he played a Chelsea Pensioner performing ‘Boys of the old brigade’. In his next production, Sinbad the Sailor, Tony played the old man of the sea, before illness gave him the chance to play a comic sailor, and this revealed Tony’s talent for comedy. From then on, Tony played in very many productions, including the black and white minstrels and many musicals. Tony and Joan Lawson used to do many comedy sketches together, often where they were free to ad lib their lines. Tony also performed many solo short comedy productions such as The Typewriter in 1965. This was an example of one of Ackrill’s mimes, where he would mime to music: in this case The Typewriter by Leroy Anderson (which was also mimed, more famously, by Jerry Lee Lewis in Who's Minding The Store). Joan Lawson (who after marriage became Joan Crawford – no, not that one!) worked assisting Patrick Olsen in his puppet shows. Tony’s son and daughter have carried on the theatrical tradition as dancers, his son with the Northern Ballet in Stockholme. Tony Ackrill also appears in another film on YFA Online, It’s a Mad, Mad World (see also the Context for this film). These filmmakers set up a group in the mid 1950s calling themselves the Apollo Film Unit, after the name of a room in a pub near the City Alms Hotel where they met. After about 5 years though they were forced to stop using the name by a film club in Leeds who had the same name and who claimed to have registered it. From this time they were known simply as the Film Unit, which ran a cine club in the late 1950s and early 1960s, putting on their own films in a room next to Lady Peckitt’s House. One of the members, May Webb, recounts stories of strange happenings there – objects flying around, lights going on and off – which apparently went back to the suicide of one of the children of a landlord at the pub there (now the ‘Golden Fleece’). Unfortunately it is not known what happened to many of the other films made by members of this club. This kind of short comedy act, usually based around a single joke – in this case the play upon the word ‘flush’ – was common at the time, both on stage and on TV. English acts like Beyond the Fringe, beginning in 1961 with the Cambridge Footlights – Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett – and the US comedy duo Mike Nichols and Elaine May, in 1960, transferred their acts from stage to TV. Both of these exemplified the mannered acting and exaggerated speech, often with deliberate pauses for effect, used in Love's First Flush. It is a style of comic act that has largely gone out of fashion now, and so it is fortunate that we still have this enjoyable example.