Privilege (1967)

Starring Manfred Mann singer Paul Jones as pop star Steven Shorter, and iconic Sixties supermodel Jean Shrimpton, Privilege taps into the sinister possibilities of the growing celebrity culture.

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“Peter Watkins’ vision of his country has the unforgiving rancour of the genuinely prophetic and he extends to his characters the charity of a very serious man.”
Penelope Gilliatt, The Observer, April 1967

Ubiquitous pop star Steven Shorter (played by the real-life singer Paul Jones of Manfred Mann) has achieved a world-wide acclaim that makes him a valuable commodity to the powerful. Co-opted as a conduit for social control, Shorter finds his world disintegrating when a beautiful artist (Jean Shrimpton) tempts him to revolt.

Mixing pop and film had made a success of A Hard Day’s Night (1964), and Peter Watkins was able to gain funding from Universal Studios for Privilege. Unfortunately for Watkins, his film’s jaundiced satire was at odds with the prevalent feelgood flower-power vibe when it was released in 1967. Most reviewers found it antagonistic and unduly paranoid, tones that just a few years later would be the hallmark of serious cinema.

Jean Shrimpton is not the first model to dip a toe into the world of acting – Veruschka made an iconic appearance in Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blowup (1966) and Twiggy took the lead in Ken Russell’s The Boy Friend (1971).

Cast & Credits

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