The obvious choice + the Chris Bentley connection

Well, I have finally landed on my choice of Helena Vondráčková ‘disc for the birthday’ – forgetting the idea of that LP partly sung in English.

Having originally encountered it in a selection of Czechoslovak Soul it seemed, after all, obvious that ‘Vládce našich dní’ should be the choice. Being a Northern Soul fan, amongst other genres, it certainly suits me that it is a Czech language version of the song performed in English as ‘What’s It Gonna Be?’, variously by Dusty Springfield, Barbara Acklin and Susan Barrett. Indeed, I seem to recall the last time I checked some weeks back that particular release (actually a very presentable B-Side) was not available for sale, so that was probably why it wasn’t in my thoughts to start off with yesterday. It was a very pleasant surprise (to make up for the unpleasant one regarding the outcome of the Referendum!) when I, just ‘chancing’ it, discovered that there was one (admittedly not brilliant condition) available today.

Looking further into  Helena Vondráčková-related videos, I encountered the following fascinating televisual collaboration (‘Hle Praha, pane pařížane!’) with the French actor, Jean-Pierre Cassel (I especially enjoy those instances where the GOTGE work alongside artists from the opposing side of the Iron Curtain) whom I know well thanks to happening to watch a film on the TV sometime back in the mid-1980s, during which I heard one of the characters being referred to as ‘Chris Bentley’ – a character, improbably, played by Britt Ekland! The film was entitled ‘Baxter!’ and I can clearly recall using the Film Studies Library at the former Green Lane site of Derbyshire College of Higher Education to research that film in those wonderful far-off days when research primarily involved opening books as opposed to tapping things out on keyboards! I was somewhat disappointed, however, when I got the novel on which the film was based (‘The Boy Who Could Make Himself Disappear’) out of the library and discovered that the ‘Chris Bentley’ character had a different name in the novel. I wonder why it was altered. It’s quite funny to think that that’s a ‘Chris Bentley’ in that still photo of Britt Ekland on the relevant IMDb page! Ah! Now! Who is the sexier ‘Chris Bentley’? No contest, of course 😉

The aforementioned TV show was not only a collaboration in individual terms. It is quite remarkable that the titles make reference to this show being a co-production between Czechoslovak TV and the French broadcaster, TF1. I wonder how often it was that broadcasters straddling the Iron Curtain got together in this way…and if the programme was broadcast in France too. Also, as a Carene Cheryl fan, it is quite gratifying to note that one of the guests (Julie), who appears touring the streets of Prague in an open vintage car performing a song in French, is an almost-exact French female contemporary of Carene’s.

It also occurs to me that Julie’s appearance in this show could be read as an almost-contemporary land-based exchange for Marie Rottrová’s promo-video of her Czech-language version of ‘Blame It On The Boogie’, ‘Muž č. 1′, performed on board a boat on the River Seine in Paris.The parallels are quite remarkable.

How well the nations of Europe could get on together in those days, with a socking great Iron Curtain in the way. Are we beginning to head backwards?


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