The White Bus (1967)

the white bus 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Bizarre tour through Manchester.

Patricia Healey plays a young lady who is never given any name that is bored with her job and looking for a diversion. While walking through some of the slum sections of the city she comes upon a white double-deck tour bus headed by the Mayor (Arthur Lowe) promising to show her the exciting areas of town. The tour group visits a factory, library and even witness a civil service drill of people saving victims from burning buildings that had been attacked during an unnamed war. In the end the young lady breaks from the group and goes wandering the streets herself looking into windows of homes where she learns a lot more about ‘the real’ city that she lives in that the tour bus could never show.

the white bus 2

This short film, which only runs 45 minutes was directed by Lindsay Anderson who later went on to collaborate with Malcolm McDowell in the classic if…., O Lucky Man! and Britannia Hospital. Anderson’s films were known for their surreal qualities, absurd situations and bizarre characters. This film proves to be no exception and part of the fun of watching the movie is never knowing what strange thing will happen next.  There are some weird moments for sure including the young lady envisioning herself hanging by the neck from a rope connected to the rafters of the ceiling at her job while the cleaning crew obliviously works around the dead body like it is not there. To me though the best moment is when she witnesses a group of people pushing a polio victim inside an iron lung through a lonely train station.

The film is mostly done in black-and-white, but occasionally for no reason or warning will flip over to color for a few seconds and then back to black-and-white again. These intervals become more frequent towards the middle of the film, but then go back to all black-and-white during the final fifteen minutes. In some ways I found this to be diverting and interesting initially, but eventually it became distracting and pointless.

the white bus 3

Healy does well in the lead and speaks only 9 words of dialogue through the whole thing. Her prominent light blue eyes look like emeralds and she exudes a nice detached quality where she at times seems a confused and curious about her surroundings as the viewer. Classic British character actor Lowe offers some moments of levity as he leads the group through a library while expounding on his opinions about ‘dirty books’.

This movie also marks the film debut of Anthony Hopkins, but to be honest I couldn’t spot him anywhere. Supposedly he can be seen in the background of one scene singing a song in German, but I couldn’t find it. I even went back through the scene selections re-watching moments that had some singing, but I still didn’t see him. If anyone knows exactly where he appears in the film and could let me know I would be forever grateful.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Alternate Title: Red, White and Zero

Released: December 9, 1967

Runtime: 46Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Lindsay Anderson

Studio: United Artists Corporation

Available: DVD (MGM Limited Edition Collection), Amazon Instant Video

7 responses to “The White Bus (1967)

  1. This sounds like a really strange film, but I like the fact that they made it. I’m not sure I would “get” it, but I’m keen to see it. You’ve made it sound really intriguing.

    Thanks for joining our blogathon with this unusual film. 🙂

    • Thanks for having me! I agree it’s a strange film. It’s one of those movies that works on a completely moody level. The less you think about it the more sense it strangely seems to make.

  2. Pingback: Update: 1967 in Film Blogathon | Silver Screenings

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  4. Pingback: Announcing the “1967 in Film” Blogathon | Silver Screenings

  5. It took me a while but I found Anthony Hopkins. 24 minutes into the movie he’s standing on stage by himself singing a German song. It’s a wide shot with him standing in the middle, no close up, and literally only 8 seconds. He would be put to much better use in The Lion In Winter the next year.

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