Lindsay Anderson and Patsy Healey in the White Bus.

Lindsay Anderson update part 1. Do you ever find one thing that brings together a whole heap of things you like in an unexpected way? Lindsay Anderson's film The White Bus (shown at the GFT a couple of weeks ago) did it for me. The film is about a young woman (played by Patricia Healey) who leaves her humdrum office job in London for a visit home. She joins a civic tour on an open-topped bus alongside the Mayor (Arthur Lowe) and various visiting dignitaries. That's about as far as the plot goes. Generally I like these sort of vaguely surreal, slightly meandering sorts of films. I feel inadequate for not engaging with complicated dramas or documentaries on burning issues but I could watch these sort of films all day. As an added bonus, The White Bus also contained the following, which will be recognisable as things I like:

  • an unexpectedly Tati-esque soundtrack, but with banjos because it was in the North. The open landscapes and characters in national dress also reminded me of Playtime.
  • a beautifully shot factory scene very similar to Maurice Broomfield's photos, noted the other week.
  • a trip to a museum which was full of things in glass cases
  • a visit to a library where there was a stereotypical librarian who looked very disapproving
  • the idea of being a tourist in your own town, something that Nothing To See Here is all about
  • the glorification of bus travel - I get the bus to work every day and enjoy a quiet think. The top deck is always the best;
  • shots of grimy Manchester redolent of The Smiths. Also, it was based on a story by Smiths cover star Shelagh Delaney and was intended to be part of a trilogy (never realised) Red, White and Zero with films by Tony Richardson and Peter Brook.
  • cinema connections - the film was originally shows as a supporting feature to Daisies, fab Czech film which is also one of my favourites.

It was shown with a documentary About The White Bus shot in the Free Cinema style which was a different take on film-making showing how laborious and mundane it actually is. It's remarkable that directors can visualise how 7 seconds of film captured one day in one place will join with another from another day and another place and another and another to make a coherent whole, particularly when one scene of The White Bus took so long to shoot on a cold morning that the leading lady fainted. Seeing her getting her feet rubbed in a desperate attempt to get some warmth back in cocks a snook at acting's glitzy reputation. It looked like a lot of hard work for not much in return. The documentary was a bit too much detail for some in the audience but I liked it. It doesn't seem to be out on DVD or anything but there's a few Lindsay Anderson things going on at the moment. Part 2 coming up next.

I saw a photo of his diary in your flickr acct and ended up here and am now wildly curious about Lindsay Anderson.


Thanks for this. I saw the White Bus as part of a trilogy Red, White and Zero many years ago on daytime television. Zero was about a man who is always late and Vanessa Redgrave starred in Red. The order of the trilogy was Zero, White and Red. Only Red was in colour. Love to watch it again.

Kaori - that's interesting. I didn't think the other parts were completed. Must try to track them down now!

Recommended reading

More from I like's Amazon astore