Permissive (1970)

This gritty portrayal of life on the road for a minor-league 70s groupie captures the grubby self-interest of the post-hippy rock scene.

Stills must not be reproduced, copied or downloaded in any way.

Film details

Alternative titles

  • The Now Child Working
  • Suzy Superscrew Working

Introduction

“While it would be a stretch to call Permissive a feminist film – any ideals of female solidarity are absent – it does bear out the anxieties about a male-defined sexual revolution which gave impetus to the feminist movement.”
Cary Couzens, The Digital Fix, 2010

Lindsay Shonteff’s film is a series of vignettes focusing on Suzy (Maggie Stride) and her journey from ingénue to queen groupie with a hairy folk rock outfit. In this world the boys in the band are wordless brutes while the dead-eyed girls who follow them use their bodies to gain power over one another.

With its effective blend of gritty location work and a soundtrack by cult acid folk and prog rock legends Forever More (who star), Comus and Titus Groan, Permissive is a dark British countercultural artefact, shot through with grim authenticity.

Shonteff taps into the tabloid obsession with real-life ‘girls with the band’ at a time when rock sexploitation films, such as Cool It Carol! (1970), were winning large audiences.

In The Homecoming (1973), based on Harold Pinter’s play, a woman uses her body to gain power, this time over her husband’s family, while a more sentimental view of groupie life can be seen in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous (2000).

Cast & Credits

Latest from the BFI

  • Latest from the BFI

    Latest news, features and opinion.

More information

Films, TV and people

  • Films, TV and people

    Film lists and highlights from BFI Player.

More information

Sight & Sound magazine

  • Sight & Sound magazine

    Reviews, interviews and features from the international film magazine.

More information

Back to the top