Bumbo Bailey (the disarmingly cherubic Richard Warwick), a newly commissioned Ensign of the Household Brigade based in the prestigious Wellington Barracks in London, is idling his way through a life consisting of equal parts ennui and obligation until he bumps into Susie (Joanna Lumley) – a big-haired vision in red snakeskin trousers – and her eccentric coterie of trendy friends at a performance art-style protest.
The luscious Susie and her friends are bourgeois revolutionaries whose principal occupation is organising anti-war demonstrations.
Sensing Bumbo’s general dissatisfaction with everything they try to manipulate him into a course of action which could have dire consequences for his future.
The Breaking of Bumbo is a time-capsule portrait of military rigour competing with the era’s burgeoning sexual and social freedoms, set against explosive scenes of Swinging-Sixties London. Adapting his bestselling children’s book, director Andrew Sinclair draws on his own youthful experiences as a former Coldstream Guards officer.
Though posters and brochures were created, The Breaking of Bumbo was denied a theatrical release by EMI on the grounds that it was uncommercial, and the film has only intermittently been shown on television.
An excellent soundtrack showcases the Graham Bond Organisation, Chris Ellis and a toe-tappingly jaunty theme (Red is London) from Jean Hart.