Richard Lester (pictured above) is an eighty-one year old Anglo-American director who made his place in new wave cinema with a short called "The Running, Jumping and Standing Still" film with Peter Sellers. He famously did The Beatles first two films, Hard Day's Night" (1964) and "Help" the next year.
He later made some spot-on satires like "The Knack...and How to Get It" (1965) about sexual mores among the middle-class young in a rapidly less austere landscape (London at the dawn of its peak in trends in fashion, politics and pop entertainment ). His masterpiece in my opinion was "Petulia (1968) with George C. Scott and Julie Christie, about a middle-aged San Francisco-based doctor whose affair with a "kooky" young woman is anything but casual. And then came "The Bed Sitting Room" (1969) , a likely box-office fizzle in the USA but film which captures the madness of nuclear war and its effect on the human psyche better than more serious films.
London on the third or fourth anniversary of a nuclear war which lasted two minutes and twenty-eight seconds, including signing the peace treaty. Three (or possibly four) years after the nuclear holocaust, the survivors wander amidst the debris. Penelope is 17 months pregnant and lives with her lover, Alan, and her parents in a tube train on the (still functioning) Circle Line.
"Other survivors include Captain Bules Martin, who holds a "Defeat of England" medal, as he was unable to save Buckingham Palacefrom disintegration during the war. Lord Fortnum (Richardson) is fearful that he will mutate into the "bed sitting room" of the title. Mate is a fireguard, except that there is nothing left to burn. Shelter Man is a Regional Seat of Government who survived the war in a fallout shelter and spends his days looking at old films (without a projector) and reminiscing about the time he shot his wife and his mother as they pleaded with him to let them in his shelter. Similarly, the "National Health Service" is the name of a male nurse, although overwhelmed by the extent of the war. Finally, there are two policemen, who hover overhead in the shell of a Morris Minor Panda carthat has been made into a makeshift balloon, and shout "keep moving" at any survivors they see to offset the 'danger' of them becoming a 'target' in the unlikely event of another outbreak of hostilities."
Two clips (seen below), "Primitive London" and "London Raw", were very likely not made by Lester, but by some clueless twits who shall remain nameless and may well have been from San Jose, California, judging by their taste in cinema.
Not your usual light-hearted fare for a comedy.
After the 1960's fizzled out, Lester went on to make more commercial films like "The Three Musketeers" (1973), "Juggernaut" (1974), "The Four Musketeers" (1975) and "Cuba" (1979) with Sean Connery and Brooke Adams and "Superman II (1980), which was co-directed by Richard Donner. The disappointing and forgettable "Superman III" was his apex helming big budget Hollywood films--and also one of his least inspired. His very last feature film to date was, perhaps fittingly, a concert film for Paul McCartney.These films were put out by the BFI as part of a package of movies that highlight some of the highs and lows of British cinema in the 1960's. One of the highs (although not a great film, perhaps) was the black comedy "The Bed Sitting Room" 1969 about post-apocalypse UK where all concerns about class structure (or any structure) have gone away thanks to the rapid decline in population due to nuclear war.
Lester also made a thoughtful and direct anti-war comedy, "How I Won the War" (1967), with Michael Crawford, John Lennon and one of Lester's favorite actors, Roy Kinnear, who died sadly from an accident during the making of Lester's, "The Return of the Musketeers" (1989).
Among other things, "HIWTW" threw a light on the commercial and popular notions about World War II and showed some of the dirty business (the blight of commercialism, cold-blooded killing, stupid generals sending men to die on impossible or impractical missions, and the famous "ghost soldiers" in the film who are off to Vietnam in twenty years.) Here is the original trailer for the film: