Joanna (1968)

Director Mike Sarne attempted to bring the daring and vivacity of European cinema to a frothy London tale of a free-spirited art student and her search for love.

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Introduction

“Joanna may be the ultimate swinging London film: it’s colourful, makes the city look beautiful, includes plenty of sex and is even fairly believable... There’s enough there to make you consider Sarne an unduly forgotten director.”
Bob Stanley, the Guardian, April 2011

Joanna (Genevieve Waite) is a stylish, art student embarking on a new life in London where she enjoys the pleasures of casual sex and an impromptu trip to Morocco with the wise and debonair Lord Peter Sanderson (Donald Sutherland). But when Joanna falls in love, her life begins to get complicated.

Opening in stark black and white, in an homage to John Schlesinger’s classic documentary Terminus (1961), Joanna then bursts into vibrant colour to revel in the larger-than-life aesthetics of Italian cinema. However, the film was a flop across the channel, where director Mike Sarne’s Rolls-Royce was pelted with eggs at the trendily radical 1968 Cannes Film Festival. The film was greeted with a more sympathetic reception in the US, giving Sarne the chance to move to Hollywood.

Mike Sarne was heavily influenced by the films of the great Italian director Federico Fellini, particularly 8 1/2 (1963), to which the end of Joanna pays homage.

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