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Wonderwall (1968)

A gloriously meaningless head-trip about Oscar Collins (Jack MacGowran) – a doddering eccentric old scientist who discovers a secret window into the endless sex life of gorgeous nymph Jane Birkin (Serge Gainsbourg’s main squeeze and co-moaner of Je T’aime Moi Non Plus) amid psychedelic butterfly effects and swirling sitars.

Oscar lives a quiet life, retreating to his small apartment – stuffed from floor to ceiling with papers, books, and various specimens – each evening after working in the lab.

One night, Oscar hears strange music coming from the apartment next door. In frustration, he tosses an alarm clock at the wall, damaging it.

Then he notices an upside-down silhouette of a woman dancing on his wall. It is a camera obscura effect coming through a hole in the wall.

He peeks through the hole to see his lovely next-door neighbour, Penny Lane (Birkin), who is a model who often poses for sessions in her apartment with her photographer boyfriend (Richard Wattis).

Oscar becomes obsessed with Penny – staying away from work for weeks on end and drilling more holes in the wall so he can get better views. He watches various photoshoots and even a lovemaking session between Penny and her boyfriend.

When her boyfriend ends up leaving her, Penny becomes severely depressed and suicidal. Only Oscar, who has been watching all along, can do anything to save her.


Entering her flat and finding she has tried to gas herself and taken an overdose of sleeping pills, Oscar turns off the gas, returns to his flat and calls for help, thus saving her life.

The closing scene sees him return to work basking in the glow of his heroism, a new man infused with confidence.

Newspaper headlines reveal that Penny, having been given a second chance, Is intent on starting afresh.

But as Oscar peers into his microscope, he spots Penny floating amongst the microbes and urging him onwards to more new discoveries.

Wonderwall is effectively director-less, Roman Polanski having wisely turned it down, proffering his protégé Joe Massot instead, a nice man with no noticeable talent.

The movie is, uniquely, the sum of the work of its four superb collaborators: cameraman Harry Waxman, art director Assheton Gorton, editor Rusty Coppleman, and Beatle George Harrison, who composed the shimmering, sitar-laced score.

There is also a poem in the film specially written by John Lennon.

One of the quintessential (and now forgotten) Swinging London films of the late 1960s.

Oscar Collins
Jack MacGowran
Jane Birkin
Mrs Peurofoy
Irene Handl
Richard Wattis
Young Man
Iain Quarrier
Beatrix Lehmann

Joe Massot