That French Documentary – it's sparked so much interest that we've given it its own page.
Robert Eade's request for information about a Sixties French documentary that he remembered, featuring footage of the offshore stations, has sparked more correspondence than anything posted recently on the Radio London site.
Was the programme called 'Les Teenagers' or variations thereof? Perhaps 'Secret Paris', 'Paris Secret' or 'Paris Top Secret'? We have now given the mystery documentary its own page.
Here is the original posting and the many emails that followed, descending in order of receipt. Thanks to everyone who has contributed.
All comments in green are mine.
If you have any more ideas – please get in touch! Email Mary
On Nov 14th 2012, Robert Eade wrote:
Circa 1969 I went to the cinema to see some art house film (no idea what it was), only to find the supporting film was a French documentary in colour in which there was a section on the pirate ships. If my memory is correct I recall footage featuring, amongst others, Emperor Rosko and Tony Blackburn, and I remember thinking at the time that the footage must be quite old as this was two years after they had both moved on to Radio 1. I thought the film was called 'Secret Paris', however a trawl of the IMDB indicates that it was probably titled 'Paris Top Secret' and directed by one Pierre Roustang.
It would be interesting to know whether any of your contributors have recall of this film or whether the footage survives.
By December 1st, we had a number of comments and suggestions:
Radio Caroline's Steve Young recalls the footage being shot aboard the Mi Amigo:
I just read the article about Robert Eade's search for the French TV documentary about the pirate stations. I, too, have been trying to track that down, as I clearly recall their camera crew being on board the MV Mi Amigo, where they shot lots of footage of us all at work and at play. They also joined me down at the Bag O'Nails club one night, where they filmed a sequence of me and others, on the dance floor. I never did see the documentary and often wondered whether or not it had actually been broadcast on TV. Perhaps my dancing had an impact upon their decision as to whether to air the programme :-)
Anyway, like Robert Eade, I would be intrigued to find out what happened to it.
Re the 'Art House' (now there's a euphemism!) film, I think you will find it was called 'Teenagers' in the UK. The film, if I recall, focused on 60s youths and how they spent their time. I believe some mention of it was made years ago on Chris Edwards' Offshore Echoes website.
When searching the internet and YouTube, etc, there are several other films of this name (not surprisingly!) that you will have to get past before you find reference to this one.
Your website (particularly the Big L Fab Forties) is fantastic! Good hunting, John Hogg.
I also remember the film, which I saw in Brighton, where I believe it was the second feature to a film called Mr Freedom, a dreadful effort in which Serge Gainsbourg (of 'Je t'aime moi non plus' fame) had some involvement. My memory recalls that the documentary was definitely in colour, probably mute sound with commentary over, and the pirate radio section was about five minutes in length. Given the limited amount of professionally-shot colour footage of the pirates, it would be great if someone could unearth these few minutes of history.
Thanks for such an interesting website. Kind regards, Brian Elkins.
We unearthed a few references to 'Les Teenagers' on the net, but it is difficult to tell if they refer to this documentary, as is also the case with the two record sleeves depicted. Part of the blurb on the website Cinema Nouvelobs describing 'Les Teenagers' says, "The film consists of a series of sequences with various activities of today's youth. A stunt school, a ski school for the blind... a women's rugby team in training." No mention is made of offshore radio.
By December 7th, even more suggestions had arrived, but we have found no definitive answer:
More from Robert Eade:
It has been interesting to read the responses to my posting about the French documentary that I saw all those decades ago. 'Les Teenagers' may well have contained footage of the pirate ships, but the film I saw most definitely was not of that title. I have no recall of the film being about teenagers in general.
Further internet research indicates that my recall of the title being 'Secret Paris' may have not been too inaccurate. I have discovered 'Paris Secret' by the same director, and it's listed as being first released in Sept 1965. Interestingly the production seems to be an early one, by Oscar-and-BAFTA-award-winning producer Arthur Cohn who is still actively working today. Anyone know how to go about contacting him? You never know Mary, but he could be the man with that unused footage in a can somewhere!
Steve Young did not join Caroline till August 1966, so this 1965 documentary (dated 1964 in the Wikipedia Arthur Cohn listing – we can only assume that one of these dates is correct) cannot be the one that he recalls being filmed aboard the Mi Amigo.
Firstly, may I thank you for such an enjoyable website that brings back so many happy memories.
Secondly, I read with interest your contributors' input on the French documentary film. In the late Sixties I used to regularly go and watch supposedly edgy, avant-garde films, which I believed had some very deep meaning behind the images. Looking back now, from a more mature outlook I can now see were utterly self-indulgent rubbish, made by people with rather too much self-importance!
Sitting through one of these visual ego trips did, from time-to-time throw up the odd, unexpected film of interest, and I do remember watching a supporting documentary film that had Paris in its title but inexplicably contained a section on the Pirate ships (and I have a very vague idea that there may have been a part of that section filmed in a club). I am absolutely certain it was not titled 'Les Teenagers', and the only other memory of the film is that it contained a very unpleasant part in which tattooed human flesh was peeled off in order to be used as a lampshade covering.
Could it be that 'Les Teenagers' was re-released as 'Paris ????' or visa versa.
Searching the net, I have found two film posters, one of which may be the subject of the original enquiry. I've attached images of both, but not being a French speaker, am unable to work out if the wording gives any clues to the films' subject matter.
Given that your website eventually got to the bottom of the Chuck Blair mystery, locating this film should be a piece of cake!!
Top Secret Just 'Secret'
Thanks for the compliments, Gina! It's somewhat difficult to decipher the words on these posters, but the list of subject matter on the left is clearly not identical to that on the right. The IMDb site lists 'Paris Top Secret' and gives the release date of 19th November 1969. Production company credits are Belga Films, Films Borderie and Ulysse Productions.
Mike Barraclough found an image and description for 'Les Teenagers' (1967) (Picture © Gaumont.fr)
He says, "Three people in the photo look like Johnnie Walker and maybe Steve Young and Ronan."
The blurb gives the mild description of 'Les Teenagers' as, 'Film-investigation, France to Sweden and England to China, paints a portrait of a certain optimistic youth in the air.'
Mike also discovered a poster for 'Les Teenagers' (right) which lists 'pirates des ondes' ('pirates of the waves') as one of the film's subjects.
This confirms that offshore radio was featured. However, in this instance, the production is promoted as controversial and risqué.
The meaning of the 'secondary title' referred to in the Encyclocine listing is unclear.
Title Secondary: Youth prohibited
Title Secondary 2: Young Fauves (The)
Title Secondary 3: Young Fauves Released
'Fauves' translates as 'wild beasts'. Fauvism was a early 20th century art movement.
Was the documentary released with three different descriptive prefixes to the main title, e.g. 'Jeunesse Interdite - Les Teenagers' ('Youth Prohibited - The Teenagers')? Or does this mean that these were three alternative titles to 'Les Teenagers'? Was the film released under varying titles - perhaps in different countries?
John has a French TV Documentary from 1966 on his Radio Caroline North YouTube pages. He has kindly listed the contents:
"Bill Scadden Caroline shipping agent, Tender out to Caroline South, Rosko interviewed in French, Tom Lodge topless, Tom Lodge & Rosko's cabin, Mick Luvzit singing, Micker on Caroline SOUTH (rare), Tender out to Radio City and how to get onboard, Dorothy Calvert, Kitty Black and Major Oliver Smedley. The Light Programme studio... and a French TV journalist who knows NOTHING about Pop Music."
Re 'Les Teenagers', Steve Young and I are probably thinking of the same film. The 5-minute clip, I recall, featured Ronan explaining legal implications of forthcoming MOA to Johnnie Walker and others (Steve?). It would, therefore, have been filmed in Spring 1967.
Hope you can track it down.
I'm impressed with the long memories of those who responded to you regarding the French TV documentary. I have a feeling that the You Tube clip sent by John Bennett is the one I referred to earlier (although my own contribution to the film obviously ended up on the cutting room floor). The timing is right (1966) and the players are right too, so it all adds up to the answer, "This must be it".
Having said that, I also have a vague recollection of a TV crew from CBC-TV French Canadian network shooting a documentary, so whether or not I'm confusing the two remains to be seen. I must admit that the years have clouded my memory and what I seem to remember may all be just an delusion. The only thing I can say is that I do, vividly, remember the filming taking place on board MV Mi Amigo and down in the Bag O' Nails club in London as well. However, beyond that my memories are a total kaleidoscope of images, sounds, people and stuff, all of which contributed to those 'crazy days of yore'.
If anyone else has any further recollections I'd be fascinated to hear about them of course. Meantime, I'll be adding John's film to my favourites on YouTube.
Thanks for acting as our curator on this Mary – Steve
As far as I remember I didn’t join Caroline until 1967 and I don’t recall any French film crew coming aboard.
As for the photo, I think that may be me second from right between Johnnie Walker and Ronan O’Rahilly but I don’t remember the circumstances. There’s a lot I don’t remember from the sixties. Funny that!
Robert Eade got in touch again to point out that the film he saw was definitely in colour, so this monochrome documentary is not the one he was thinking of.
(17/12) Mike Barraclough again:
I put 'Pierre Roustang' "Radio Caroline" into Google and came up with this link. Click on 'resumé' – or 'summary' and it comes up with a description of the film, including the following Google translation from the French:
"Presentation on pirate radio station 'Radio Caroline' whose emissions start from a boat off the coast English. The station, which wants to ban, has 25 million listeners and is one and a half billion annual profits."
If this is an accurate description of the documentary, the station's profitability seems to have being somewhat exaggerated! – Mike
17/12) Robert Eade again:
A bit a spare time over Xmas has enabled me to establish that the German version of Les Teenagers was called 'Die sexuelle Revolution! Jasmin' and in Italy, 'Jasmin. La Rivoluzione del sesso'. Radio Caroline is clearly name credited on the promotional posters.
Frontrow Posters sold the Japanese poster for 'Paris Top Secret' (above, right). The site description reads, "The 1969 Pierre Roustang Belgian/French mondo night life sexploitation documentary narrated by Philippe Bouvard. Note that the Japanese posters for this movie have an image of a topless girl with a young lion on top of her, sniffing at her chest. We wonder what that's all about!"
So do we, although the image might explain where the 'fauves' (wild beasts) reference comes in! There are also a few postcard stills from 'Paris Top Secret' for sale via the net.
Note that the Frontrow site gives two release dates for 'Paris Top Secret' – 1965 and 1969. This could imply a rerelease, but it may simply be an error.
"SHOCK! SHOCK! SHOCK!" and "Close your eyes if you must!" warn several versions of the poster. If that refers to Caroline DJs, they must have had a flasher aboard the Mi Amigo. We can't spot one on the poster, though.
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