Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Primitive London (1965)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

An aeroplane takes off and flies through the air. A baby is born in a hospital. A 'mod' teenager shops for clothes in a fashionable London boutique. Narration discusses the 'peacock' male. Various youth groups are seen: mods, rockers and beatniks. An interviewer talks to beatniks about their lifestyle and beliefs.

At a recording studio, McDonald Hobley arrives to record a voice-over for a coffee commercial. There is a discussion of the best way to record the advertising slogan, and conjecture as to how long it will take.

Girls are taught how to perform a striptease by a male dancer. Narration comments on the synthetic nature of modern society. Girls model topless dresses and swimsuits. These are juxtaposed with images of a cow and a swan, while the producer and editor of the film discuss the images in voiceover.

Footage of martial arts classes: girls practice judo; students learn kendo.

Back at the recording studio, recording begins. A man from the advertising agency arrives and is continually dissatisfied with Hobley's attempts to record the slogan.

In a London hat shop, a device is used to measure the heads of potential clients. At a hairdressers, a black girl and a white girl are given similar hairstyles, using different techniques.

After a scene at a striptease club, a man ripples his muscles. Body builders train and wrestle. At a beauty contest, girls are assessed by judges. In the changing room afterwards, they remove padding from their underwear.

An old man tattoos a lady's chest. Men lounge in a Turkish bath. Girls sit in a bath wearing jeans in order to shrink them. The Zephyrs perform pop music in a club. Rockers are interviewed in a café. Scenes of a wrecker's yard; narration discusses the number of deaths each year from road accidents.

A re-enactment of one of Jack The Ripper's murders is followed by staged examples of recent murders of prostitutes in London.

A song and dance routine takes place at a nightclub. A 'key party' begins: married people put their car keys in a glass. They will later be used to determine who each individual will go home with. Ray Martine, a modern comedian, performs his act at another nightclub.

A girl in leopard print leggings dances at a striptease club. Another girl dances in her negligee. The 'key party' continues, as excitement mounts. Fuelled by drink, the participants dance frenziedly.

Recording of the coffee advertisement continues, to the exasperation of McDonald Hobley.

Narration comments upon idols. Pop star Billy J. Kramer undertakes a personal appearance at a record shop, where he is mobbed by fans, while Terry Dene, a pop star of a previous era, looks on unrecognised.

Scenes of ten-pin bowling, and a medical operation on a goldfish.

A housewife considers buying a pre-packed chicken. Images of a chicken processing plant illustrate the route by which a chicken arrives on the supermarket shelf. Chickens are killed, plucked and prepared for sale.

A graduate of the striptease school talks about her working day as her stripper. She rushes from club to club, hurriedly changing her costumes.

A chiropodist removes a corn from a patient's foot.

A girl performs a dance while a man photographs her.

The 'key party' reaches its climax. Drunkenly, the attendees kiss and caress each other. They draw keys from the glass, and leave with their respective partners for the evening. One couple are seen driving off to a suburban house. Heading for the bedroom, the man of the house guiltily looks in on his sleeping children before proceeding to his bedroom with his extramarital partner.

Dancers at a nightclub perform a song and dance routine.

The newborn baby is seen a few weeks older. Narration remarks upon the toughness of the human animal, and how he will need strength for the long, strange life that lies ahead.