the films of jean-luc hitchcock – the 1st 200 years (1823 – 2023)


Interpretation of movies by film reviewers, regardless of whether they’re anarchist/marxist/whateverist or  merely conventional professional cineastes, make me think of the comment on “The Cadre” in the situ-influenced movie “Call It Sleep”:

“The more that silence surrounds the worker and his alienation, the more the intellectual feels obliged to provide meaningful social commentaries. The intellectual is the spectator who can’t bear to simply stand and watch a spectacle with his hands in his pockets. He has to write something down.”

So I shan’t bother to take my hands out of my pockets, except to type this:

The long-lost movies of the largely forgotten Jean-Luc Hitchcock deserve to be rescued from the archives buried deep in some cobweb-filled internet glory hole. Enjoy!

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The Ghosts of Theories Past (1947)

Le Fantôme De Théories Passés (1947)

A Tedious Waste Of Time (1948)

No Longer Strangers On A Train (1966)

Escape From Alcatraz (1968)

Sleepless In Sete (1972)

The Lost Weekend (1995)

A party political broadcast on behalf of a future Lib-Lab-Con Coalition (2009)

Runaway train (2010)

Trouble At Millbank (2010)

(this was filmed a couple of weeks after the attack on the UK Tory party HQ in Millbank, an event which now seems like 100 years ago, such is the memory and repression that ensures the continuation of a very brutal class society there)

The Passivity Before The Storm (2013)

(perhaps Jean-Luc’s most boring film, but maybe “The Storm” will prove to be a great improvement)

Further Adventures In Vicarious… (1823)

The End (part 1) (2013)

The return of anti-deutsch! (2015)

Anarchists Go To The Movies (2015) – Jean-Luc’s entry for the Anarchist Film Festival (rather frivolous and certainly not amongst his best movies)

charles adams cinema

A version of the following spoof film review (of a non-existent version of the previously mentioned  film, “Further Adventures in Vicarious…”)  by the Great Man was initially written in the 70s with the hope of being put into ‘Time Out’ by the lay-out artist there, but he objected to it being ‘too intellectual’ – unlike the usual film reviews in that rag, no doubt. It was slightly changed in the early 80s and distributed outside a cinema showing ‘Reds’, based on John Reed’s “10 days that shook the world”. The leaflet was titled “One leaflet that shook the cinema”. We were too few to storm the Picture Palace, the security eyeing us nervously, so we just handed the leaflets out. Yet another subversive project that never got off the ground.

 ABC Spectacle

Picadilly Circus Wl (836 5131) ‘Further Adventures In Vicarious Compensation’ (U). (Jean-Luc Hitchcock, 1984 Br.) Jane Fonda, Norman Wisdom, Barbara Windsor, Robert de Nero. 131 mins.

In the same genre as his previous ‘You Pathetic Passive Consumer Morons’, this extraordinary tour-de-force by the Master pulls all the stops out in it’s painful confrontation of the audience with their own impoverished situation. From the opening shot of a couple scanning Time Out and arguing over what movie to see, to it’s final scenes of mayhem and festivity, we are bombarded with the agonising truth. The pathos of the cinema-lover, whose life is dominated and mediated by images and the repression and lies that justify them, is revealed in character after character. One, played excruciatingly and embarassingly by Norman Wisdom (once more at his best) goes to watch an adventure he dare not, or cannot, live in the real world: the film is exposed as the alienated form of both his real and his colonised aspirations. Another (stereotypically played by Barbara Windsor) specialises in interpretations of Bunuel’s symbolism, with which useless expertise she attempts to impress her so-called friends. Another (Fonda) examines the twitches and fixed gestures of the actors in order to emulate them: the rigidities and falsity of the characters are used to reinforce the spectator’s role-bound life, in which all creativity is seen in terms of appearance. A fourth (de Nero) knows all this, but sees this as cynically inevitable, and goes to the flicks to analyse this so-called inevitabiity. What happens, when they understand thé com­mon basis of their miserable escàpe from the possibiity of conscious creativity against that which suffocates their lives, is when the plot really hots up. This really is the film to end all films – and I mean that literally. And that’s no joke – at the World Premiere at the Berlin film festival last March the film sparked off riots. The audience took its message at face value & turned the auditorium into a vast spontaneous seminar, much to the irritation of the management. At first they tried the softly softly approach – “You can stay – just as long as you leave by 11.30. We’ve all got to have a good night’s rest so we can return refreshed to work in the morning.” However, the discussion – on how and why to transform all social space – quickly lost some of its abstract wanderings because of the arrival of squatters who’d just been evicted by the cops: they wanted to use the cinema as shelter for the nlght, and had sleeping bags to provide them with a bit of comfort. At this point the cops were called and the audience was forced to either take them on – or suffer the usual indignity of submitting. Some people seized the projector and the film and smuggled them out, whilst others taking their cue from the “Jailhouse Rock” movie riots of the fifties – tore up whole rows of cinema seats. One guy beat off the cops with the emergency fire hose, whilst others raided the cash desk. Outside in the streets, barricades of cars went up and the cops were forced into a position of retreat until suddenly the rioters disappeared, only to be discovered later in the night to have occupied one of the buildings of the University. News of this got round some other cities in Europe, so that when the film was shown in Paris, for example, no less than 17 film critics resigned their jobs, whilst in Rome the film incited the occupation of at least 3 cinemas. An extraordinary (contd. P.97)…

The following was written in the early 80s but unpublished. The fantasy was to get loads of people down to the South Bank in London who were ready for some creative trouble. But no-one else apart from me was into it, understandably, because it was a little pretentious and over-complicated and not very likely to inspire people to go down there. A weird form of voluntarism. Nevertheless, it has some good bits and presents an imaginative dream of a post-revolutionary society virtually absent nowadays (sure, the ability to imagine another society is not the essential inspiration for social movements: the different relations people create in opposing this one is far more fundamental)….

Jean-Luc Hitchcock’s Latest Astonishing Venture!

J-L has just announced that he’s going to start filming his latest movie, based in London – and YOU – yes, YOU – are invited to star in this, his very latest movie! J-L H is looking for thousands of young and old people to star in his very latest contribution to the streets of London:


  • the only entertainment without an audience. Starring: YOU!

… the gushing Big Dippers of orgastic reason overflow into every corner of life, so the masses of individuals discover their truth in the practical confrontation with all frozen reference points….

Yes, you too can star in the following magical opening scene:

The words ‘”Everything possible to be believed is an image of the truth”- William Blake’ are printed on the screen over these stunning shots:

A valley of labyrinthine blues and greens, intertwining writhing streets, ladders and bridges changing direction slowly but surely, throbbing transparent glass sheets and controlled winds and mists, and the houses rotating and trampoulines tramping their trampish ways along soft rubber gulleys filled with life belts.. ..and in the distance a man waves his arms around in corn-fields on a hiIl screaming to the mainly naked crowd on the passing train-city, screaming in a cracked mad voice, “And now – now that we’ve abolished capitalism – now – now what do we do?”. The camera pans up the vast multi-track carrying the vast mobile train-city to what looks like a ruin of London, with the post office tower transformed into a vast helter-skelter, and everything else higgledy-piggledy, vast stoves and fires and musical instruments, round which people sit and eat and dance and argue and kiss and suck and lick and fuck and laugh and play-fight and cry and swim and sing and stroke and massage and drink and swing and drum and think and talk and walk and wank and run and poke and joke and endlessly communicate. Over the swirling, singing, screaming and grunting of the crowds a voice blares: “The train now arriving at platforms 9 to 2,117 will be calling on the magnificent refrigerated sea between the white cliffs & Calais, overland to the wild animal complex based round the old Eiffel Tower, down south to the underwater city of Mediterranis, through the firework fogs of Corsica, past Sardinia and its town of Clearplasticglass, onto the smouldering ruins of Rome, into Venice, the Ghost Town of risk-free Terror-Shock, then chugging past some truly explosive sunsets almost consistently indulged in nowadays by the anti-workers of Trieste….Aaaah!… Trieste!…..I’ve never been so intensely in love as when I was there last year…and with so many people! Benny, Sensartilia, Jess, Li, Melody, Shatter, Pounce, Earthquake, Ned… but the greatest old flame of all? – Lou Syd – her eyes of fire, her words of fire, her lips of fire. I looked into her flaming pupils and said, “You’re just burning me up, baby”…yeah, it’s a cliche a minute here in the work-shy council of London, and, as usual, I’m digressing into my own narcissistic memories away from the here and now and what a here and now it is today on the Train Journey Show…” Suddenly the announcer’s voice breaks off in mid-sentence and the film pans from the crowd to his surprised face in a little room at the top of the Post Office Tower. In the background in the distance a few people can be heard shouting “We’ve cut the announcer’s wire! No more monologue!”, which is then followed by a lowly augmenting drum-roll climaxing into an ecstatically soaring and euphoric “Hooooooooorayyyyyy!” .The announcer turns to a boy and girl, about seven, who are laughing at him. “Oh well, I suppose I better give up these narcisistic habits or I’ll end up like the looney on the hill….I suppose I must have sounded a bit like those old power mad smug slimy manipulators of the olden days – disc jockeys….but you’re lucky, you never knew the old world…it‘s hard to get rid of these tiny jabs of regret and envy, regret for those years wasted creating fantasies of the future, near and far without any effort to realise them, regret for those years weighed down by coins, imprisoned by locks, chained to keys, envy that I can’t be like you who missed those years of impotence and separation, and have thus, amongst a billion other discoveries, been able to cultivate a system of communication no longer subject to the laws of property – telepathy, whereas I can only use the five traditional senses.. .and that does reinforce old habits. Old habits, like the desire to have a following…Did I ever tell you of those revolutionary times when I did have a following?” ….The scene fades into what becomes the central theme of the film: London, June 1989. The announcer is seen speaking on the platform of the ‘Libertarian Communist Party’, “Comrades! I have called this internal meeting to work out our strategy in spreading our ideas and demands in the present crisis. Since some of you may be poorly informed due to various unforeseeable circumstances, it falls upon me to summarise the major events of the week. As most of you know, the Bennite government has been forced into further retreat, now holding only Devon and Cornwall. The remnants of the army and police here have been forced to withdraw completely from the capital, as they have from Birmingham and Coventry, who, this week, joined the other 13 police-free cities. In relation to the partial nuking of Glasgow, the Bennites claim to have soundproof evidence of American involvement, whilst the old supporters of the dead Thatcher claim they have proof of Russian involvement. But these lies haven‘t worked, since the Cheltenham Assembly decided to broadcast their findings that, in fact, the British, American and Russian ruling class collaborated in the bombing in order to distract from the international class struggle. The General Strike in Russia is now in its 4th week, and the system of immediately revocable mandated delegates has been organising lîfe in Poland and Czechoslovakia. Argentina and Chile have joined the other 14 countries where there are massive occupation movements. In San Francisco and Detroit workers and unemployed have just taken over large areas of the city, whilst in 18 other American cities rioters are confronting the National Guard. In fact, at the moment, we are witnessing revolutionary crises in 25 countries spanning every continent. Yet still the mas­ses have failed to raise their consciousness to a libertarian communist level….”

The rest of the film is a development of this situation supposedly taking place in London in June 1989. The main focus of the film is, on the one hand, the BBC, which has been taken over and is run by men and women delegated from various groups based in different buildings and streets round the city. And, on the other hand, the old Savoy Hotel, which is one of the buildings under occupation. Cameras record, and broadcast, all meetings at all times, with the exception of the secret meetings of the political parties. The task of the BBC delegates is to organise the coordination of communication between various groups and to make all their own discussions broadcast publicly, as well as being a centre for information regarding what is happening in the rest of the world. The plot centres on the attempts of the Libertarian Communist Party to manipulate and undermine the public democratic use of this co-ordinating system, and their defeat by the intervention of the masses, exemplified by the occupants of the Savoy.

You – yes, YOU! – are personally invited to bring your imagination and talent along to a screen test for this astonishing movie! Bring whatever costumes, props, ideas, scenery, masks, etc. to Jubilee Gardens on………………


In an astonishing interview, Jean-Luc’s ex-secretary, apparently the brains behind J-L, revealed why she had resigned her top-status job, “After the riots provoked by the last movie, I thought making this latest one was just a backward step into the safety of a mere spectacle of audacity. What’s the point in getting into the tedious and timid compensation of making another film, when the dignified pleasure of courageously struggling in practice to bring about the conditions desired as described in the script will be infinitely more rewarding and elucidating, not just in the long term, but also in a relatively immediate way?? Fuck the cinema! I wanna live – not work to produce an image of what I’m prevented from living. I want ta emphasise that I didn’t resign from this latest venture simply because it wasn’t “for me” but because it’s definitely against me. That’s why I’m going down to the so-called film test to fuck it up. Me and my friends are gonna smash the cameras or, better still, hurl them at the GLC or the Hayward Gallery or the Festival Hall. Why? Because the film‘s not just a cop-out, an excuse for lack of action, but completely hypocritical. In not talking about any precise and general problems and contradictions in the present it can only present us with an image of a possible future, an image produced in the present by people who need the money hanging around bored in the studios, waiting to perform someone else’s words so as to keep a cinema full of spectators happy to juggle with clever clever ideas. It’s an excuse for challengîng fuck-all in the present. J-L ‘s just a cop in rebel’s clothing. Instead of trying to film “Voluptuous Palaces 0f Riot City” we should be trying to seize those voluptuous palaces, starting, say, with The National Theatre like when they seized the Opera in France, in May ‘68 or when bikers in 1981 wrecked Keswick’s theatre. It might not pay as much as becoming a cog in someone else‘s fantasy but it ‘s infinitely more exhilirating…”

“But surely” ,I asked her, “If there ‘s a riot – people will get hurt’“.

“Fuck Off!”, she rudely replied. “People are getting hurt every second that business proceeds as usual. Anyway, we’ll abviously do our best to make sure that only the defenders of the status quo get hurt. As far as I’m concerned, J-L is one of them. He only seeks a contemplative and self-valorising use of film. And he can’t elucidate on any real problems whilst the production of the film remains a hierarchically organised activity, and whilst he resisists all attempts at a concrete anti-capitalist use of the imagination. He wants to hedge his bets, selling back at a profit the revolution to those who make it, and pretending it as his own initiative. Turd!”

Later I spoke to a man, a former associate of J-L, who was going down to the South Bank screen-test, and asked him why he was going. “It could be a bit of a laugh, something to do on a Saturday. Mind you, I don’t think there’ll really be a screen-test. I don’t even believe this Hitchcock guy exists, anymore than I do. But I’m sure there’ll be a lot of people hanging around – and a lot of fun and aggro and games. Maybe we’ll storm the GLC or whatever or maybe nothing’ll happen. Certainly nothing’ll happen unless everyone who turns up is prepared to make it happen, that’s for sure. I’ll be there with my spray-cans, boots, rotten eggs and lucidity – you can count on that.” Well, whatever happens on Saturday, one can be sure that it’ll be a day to remember for anyone who joins in. Me? I won’t be there – I’d rather watch it on TV….and besides, I’m going to my aunts for tea and, anyway, I need to keep out of trouble because my job could be at stake……


charles adams cinemacinema empty

For more stuff on the cinema, see “Escape From Alcatraz”.

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One response to “the films of jean-luc hitchcock – the 1st 200 years (1823 – 2023)”

  1. Sam FantoSamotnaf avatar

    The first film listed – “The Ghosts of Theories Past” was originally posted on libcom, and got the following comments:

    Boris Badenov
    Feb 27 2010 05:53


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    Feb 27 2010 07:12

    Well done but far too short.

    I ‘spose getting those high production values takes a while …

    …or perhaps after expressing, in high, graphical language, the flash of brilliance “we’re tired of theory, we want action”, the authors felt that in uncovering this never-before-considered-idea, they had given the world the most that it could digest and could not call on it to think further…

    (note that the bulk of my comment is sarcasm, sadly enough)

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    Mar 4 2010 06:53

    If Jean-Luc Godard and Alfred Hitchcock made a movie, it pretty scary how it probably be something like this!

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