Sounds Of Silence – Gerry O’Hara’s ‘All The Right Noises’ (1971)

5 Nov

With the tagline ‘Is 15 1/2 too young for a girl?’, Gerry O’Hara’s All The Right Noises was bound to cause a wee stir upon its release in 1971. A British film backed by 20th Century Fox in the days before the withdrawal of American funding in British film production, the feature tells the story of a married family man (played by Tom Bell) who has  an adulterous affair with a fifteen year old girl (played by the naturally beautiful Olivia Hussey).

Play out with some sympathy towards its topic, the picture feels somewhat dated upon viewing now but it is lovely to watch a film like this, one that doesn’t sensationalise the subject matter like other exploitation fare would have. Hussey is delightful to watch as a young girl in love with someone she shouldn’t be, her nerves showing in her body movements, scared at intruding into the family home that she isn’t a part of and showing slight sadness towards a wife she knows she is disrespecting. Bell fares somewhat less well, not quite displaying the conflict  that a man in his position might be feeling honestly. Compared to Hussey’s sincerity in her portrayal of a girl aware she is worth more than the role of a mistress, Bell seems slightly two-dimensional.

Sadly for the film it was shelved after production and wasn’t released until two years later, quickly becoming something of a forgotten British gem. Well worth seeking out, it is refreshing to see a film that neither completely sympathises nor condemns its characters behaviour. No-one here is completely right or wrong, merely human beings displaying the realities of human error. A wonderful addition to the BFI Flipside label.

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