A beguilingly strange brew of delinquent teenager drama and paranoiac sci-fi, Joseph Losey’s The Damned (1962) is one of the most enduring films to emerge from the Hammer studio during the 1960s.
It’s set on the Dorset coast, and was filmed in May and June 1961 in Weymouth and on Portland Bill. The action gets under way when American tourist Simon Wells (Macdonald Carey), on a boating holiday along England’s south coast, is beaten up by a gang of hoodlums led by the charismatic King (Oliver Reed).
Many have seen this vision of vicious delinquency as a precursor to Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971), indeed to Anthony Burgess’s novel, which was first published in 1962.
But from there on, The Damned only gets deeper and deeper into weirdsville. On the edge of town, Wells discovers a network of caves and bunkers where nine 11-year-old children with odd powers are being kept by the military in a secret compound.
These photographs from the film’s production give little sense of such dark narrative currents, however. In what was evidently a hot early summer, we see the crew sunbathing, boating and even down to their swimwear for some publicity shots.
Sadly, neither Losey nor his cast members could have known at this point that the fruits of their labours wouldn’t see the light of day for two years. Hammer simply didn’t like this odd fusion of textures and held up the release until 1963, even then only distributing the film in a heavily cut version.
In search of the locations for Joseph Losey’s Accident
One of the great British films of the 1960s, the Dirk Bogarde classic Accident moves between Oxford, London and Surrey as it unfurls a stinging portrait of middle-class mores. Writer and filmmaker Adam Scovell set out to find its locations.
By Adam Scovell
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