Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1960s Big Switch, The (1968)

Big Switch, The (1968)

This low budget crime thriller begins with playboy John Carter (Sebastian Breaks) meeting beautiful blonde Samantha (Erika Raffael) at a swinging Soho “discotheque” (whatever happened to discotheques?) and going back with her to her Chelsea “pad”.

But when John pops out for cigarettes and returns, he finds Sam dead and is set up for her murder.

The killing is the work of gangster and nightclub owner Karl Mendez (Derek Aylward, pictured at left) who now blackmails Carter to travel to Brighton for an as-yet-unspecified purpose for which he will receive £5000 for his trouble.

In Brighton, Carter and Karen (Virginia Wetherell) – a friend of Mendez – are forced by Mendez’s goons to participate in a sadistic photoshoot supervised by a drooling photographer and two crazy dolly birds on acid.

It turns out Mendez is trying to smuggle fellow-crook Bruno Miglio (Douglas Blackwell) back into the country and the film culminates in a shootout in a penny arcade on a snowy West Pier and an (unintentionally) comical chase in the ghost train.

The Big Switch stars nobody you’ve really ever heard of and clearly, most of the ladies were selected for their willingness to disrobe on screen.

It’s a slow and largely pointless story, but if you fancy some great shots of Soho in the late 60s with kipper ties, miniskirts, 60s decor, MGB’s and Aston Martins it’s definitely worth a look, and the soundtrack is very “groovy” (and wouldn’t be out of place in an ITC series).  It’s also nice to see Brighton’s West Pier again.

Released in some markets as Strip Poker. A crisp digitally remastered version is available on Blu-ray from BFI. Mercifully, it’s only 68-minutes long.

John Carter
Sebastian Breaks
Virginia Wetherell
Jack Allen
Karl Mendez
Derek Aylward
Erika Raffael
Bruno Miglio
Douglas Blackwell
Julie Shaw
Jane Howard
Roy Sone
Nicholas Hawtrey
Brian Weske
Gilly Grant
Chief Inspector
Desmond Cullum-Jones
Patrick Allen

Pete Walker