PetrolBlog in Unexpected Places: The Glitterball

Hands up if you remember The Glitterball film of 1977. It was one of the Children’s Film Foundation movies, many of which seemed to be screened during the school holidays. Or on Friday evenings, after school.

The IMDb summary might jog your memory: “Two teenage boys try to help a tiny spherical alien get back to its mothership, while the army and a devious petty crook pursue the creature for its wonderful powers.” Ring any glitterbells? Perhaps this will jog your memory:

According to Time Out, The Glitterball told the same story as Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, only five years earlier and on a much stricter budget. It also happened to be filmed in and around the Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, as opposed to the suburbs and pine forests of Los Angeles.

It’s at this point you might be wondering if you’ve wandered into the wrong lock-up garage. Don’t worry, the sign above the door still says PetrolBlog, this isn’t ObscureMoviesYouMayHaveForgottenBlog. And my name isn’t Mark Kermode. But imagine my surprise when I discovered The Glitterball contained a full 30 seconds of Renault 4 loveliness.

Skip through to 4min 29sec to enjoy this French fancy.

It would appear to be a Renault 4 of 1973 vintage, making it one of the last of the breed before the French carmaker switched to a new plastic grille. Sadly, unlike the Glitterball, the Renault 4 couldn’t call upon special powers and, if DVLA records are to be believed, it was last seen in 1983.

But thanks to the Children’s Film Foundation, its majesty has been preserved for future generations to enjoy. Much like the movie itself, which I’ve discovered is now available on DVD. Thanks to the BFI for the good news and a cracking piece on this ‘cult children’s sci-fi’ movie.

Orange Renault 4

Aside from the Renault 4 and the little shiny ball, I can remember very little about the film. I do recall a shopping centre and possibly a branch of Woolies, but not much else. Kind of hoping there’s more retro French delights just waiting to be discovered.

If you’ve seen something worthy of consideration for PetrolBlog in Unexpected Places (PUP), get in touch. You never know, this feature might get beyond first base. In the meantime, PB is off to order the DVD. It’ll be like Boxing Day 1983 all over again. Pass the Quality Street tin…

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Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.

1 comment

  1. May 4, 2016
    Kenny Smith

    If you are doing PUP, I suggest watching the “Movies4Men” channel – it’s a B movie bonanza!

    Such delights include a Pre-Lovejoy Ian Mcshane as a mk3 & mk4 Cortina toting ex-con being followed by a mysterious Princess driver in “High Tide”
    John Gregson stars as a alcoholic Riley 2.5 owner mixed up in an espionage plot featuring Fiat 127’s and Patrick “Barratt’s” Allen in “Dangerous Knowledge” (both made as TV drama series then cut down into a movie – you don’t see the join.. much)
    Best one of the lot is “Smokescreen” – Peter Vaughan is brilliant in a black and white “Butchers Film Service” special as a tightfisted insurance Investigator in a Brighton where everybody drives Vauxhall Victors.
    It’s also the home of the late great Lewis Collins “best” action movies!


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