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A Rambling Tale Of One Woman's Supreme Coolness

Our ex-pat Kiwi pal from Pasadena, Kirk Gee is here with an Off-Topic Sunday post. It's always a grand time when the Sideburn Chief Executive decides to go off piste as it were, like with this rather wonderful video. One could consider it Off Topic as it's motorcycle-free although the aesthetic, a gorgeously chic blonde in a shearling vest driving a Mini past an abandoned float plane for her effortlessly cool Yé-Yé video sort of aesthetic, certainly seems like it would resonate with a Sideburn reader, there's much more when we look at it.

Our glamorous groover is Ms. Gillian Hill, the very epitome of the Swinging Sixties. Cairo born, raised in Nice, France, discovered at 14 by Roger Vadim and controversially cast in his version of Les Liasons Dangereueses the following year, she was off to a great start. Next step was a teenaged starring role opposite Adam Faith in the sleazily brilliant 'Beat Girl', a dramatised exposé of the British Beatnik scene that featured not only John Barry's first score but appearances by the unimpeachably cool Christopher Lee and Oliver Reed.

Like many other talented youngsters of the day, Gillian was of course what is now known as a multi-hyphenate and got a bit of a recording career going in the French pop world - 'Ma Première Cigarette' and 'Zou Bisou Bisou' being well worth your time, and even reached the heights of appearing with Johnny Hallyday and duetting with Mon. Gainsbourg and of course recording the excellent track that this started this journey rolling.

Big hair Beat Girl bop A few years of helping Paris swing and our heroine was back to the cinematic world and some work much appreciated in these quarters - jumping right in as 'The Brunette' in Antonioni's genius 'Blow-Up', who gets very friendly and frolicky with Jane Birkin (the connections abound...) A few years steady work saw her in the much loved and admired occultish TV series 'The Owl Service' and working with Georges Franjou (whose 'Les Yeux Sans Visage/Eyes Without A Face' and remake of 'Judex' are bloody awesome) but she wasn't done yet. 1971 saw her in Kubrik's masterpiece 'A Clockwork Orange' as one of the unfortunate devotchkas Alex picks up in arguably the definitive movie depiction of a record store.

Her final screen appearance (of any note, we can pass over the Dallas movie) was in 1972, in Hammer Studios 'Demons Of The Mind' playing one of an overly friendly pair of siblings locked up by their father who feared incipient madness and the wrath of a visiting exorcist priest. Perhaps not the level of Antonioni, Franjou or Kubrick (especially given the absence of the aforementioned Hammer stalwart Christopher Lee), but again the Hammer aesthetic of overwrought gothic costume drama, heaving bodices and unconscionable quantities of lurid stage blood is one that should strike a chord with Sideburn aficionados. It certainly did with this individual as a callow and awkward youth via TVNZ's 'Sunday Night Horrors' segment. The sort of thing that leaves you with a taste for B-Grade movies, European exotica, and the world view of The Cramps, who were once escorted to a Car & Bike Show by your humble correspondent therefore a motorbike connection and completely on topic. In a happy note Ms. Hill married a former manager of AC/DC, settled in the US and became a book and magazine illustrator of some note, apparently unaware of the cultural havoc she wreaked.


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