Duffer 16


Joseph Despins and William Dumaresq

  • 1972
  • Great-Britain
  • Drama
  • 1h15mn
  • Original version with French subtitles
  • Black and white
French premiere
Duffer is a young man living a dual life. With Your Gracie the prostitute, he has a luminous and liberating sex life. But Louis Jack, an older man, subjects him to his sadistic fantasies.
Duffer resembles one of those haunting visuals that develop their own logic, and escape all classification. The way Joseph Despins and William Dumaresq make industrial landscapes rhyme with a solitary nightmarish odyssey anticipates on David Lynch’s Eraserhead. Duffer’s voice confesses his tormented bisexuality, up to an unconceivable point; it accompanies his tragic journey and contaminates the form. The stifling black and white and desynchronized amplified soundtrack push social realism onto the banks of a terrible dream, like free cinema swallowed by surreal fantasy.

Cosey Fanni Tutti

I was sent the film DUFFER by my friend Stephen Thrower. He thought I’d find it strangely interesting and because the sound design was by Delia Derbyshire, who I happened to be writing about her for my new book and I was also working on a soundtrack for a film about her. I didn’t know what to expect and was taken totally by surprise, firstly because all the dialogue was overdubbed, so there was an odd disconnect between the visuals and sound, which, though intentional for budget reasons suits Duffer and the other characters' detachment from reality.

Duffer narrates the story of his abusive relationship with Louis Jack, a misogynist and psychotic sadomasochist whose fantasies are depraved, violent and cruel. Shot on 16mm film in grainy monochrome adds to the bleakness of the circumstances Duffer is willing to endure because of his love and twisted sense of loyalty to Louis Jack. When things get too much to bear Duffer finds respite in the arms of Your Gracie, a buxom, kind prostitute who takes care of him. The warm loving sex with her is the polar opposite of the sex play with Louis Jack. The film is a psychodrama that takes bizarre turns, especially when Duffer becomes pregnant. The film captures 1970s London that I remember so well. The dereliction of Notting Hill, the squat-like conditions of Louis Jack’s flat and the queer eccentric characters that lived on the fringes of British society.


13/09 • 18h15 • Screen 100
Screening presented by Cosey Fanni Tutti



  • With : Kit Gleave, Erna May, William Dumaresq, Lisa Dran...
  • Screenplay : William Dumaresq
  • Photography : Jorge Guerra
  • Editing : Joseph Despins
  • Music by : Galt MacDermot
  • Production : Joseph Despins, William Dumaresq