The story in The Wind of Change revolves around a teen gang who hang around the coffee bars of Notting Hill. Some of the gang work around Portobello Market, but the leader, Frank (Johnny Briggs) isn’t currently employed.
That’s not his fault of course, of course. According to Frank the influx of immigrants into the area has taken away all the work. Indeed, they’re even driving round in ‘flash cars’, hinting that they’re not just making their money via legal means.
A black youth wanders into their cafe of choice one day. He is chased out but gets away, which is not enough for Frank and his gang – which also includes David Hemmings as Ginger.
The next night, they wait in a dark alley to take their revenge on any black youth they can find. When a black boy comes along accompanied by a white girl, they give him a beating, with his girl also getting a lashing from Frank’s bike chain.
Unfortunately, the boy is beaten so brutally that he later dies from his injuries in hospital and the girl – who turns out to be Frank’s sister, Josie (Ann Lynn) – is stabbed and scarred in the attack.
While the first half of the film deals with the crime, the second focuses on attitudes to race in Britain in 1961. It doesn’t pull punches in either half, with Frank and his mates openly racist to the black community, using language that’s likely to make many squirm in the modern era.
Much of the second half of the movie takes place back at Frank’s family home with his mild-mannered father (Donald Pleasence) keen to support Frank’s injured sister and to see justice done, while his domineering mother (Hilda Fenemore) is angry that her daughter has been in a mixed-race relationship and keen to see her son avoid any police action.
British Lion films showed great courage in confronting a topic that is still an issue today.
Det. Sgt. Parker