Cool Fascination: The Spy Who Caught a Cold

(Last Updated On: September 29, 2016)

The charming thing about short films is that they allow the filmmaker to put forth an idea that would not yield enough plot for a feature. The title of this short piece is a take-off on the film, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965). However, beyond the wordplay, there is no similarity between the films. The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) is a light-hearted—one might say almost frivolous—British piece. It was written by Lucy Ellmann and directed by Philippa Lowthorpe and was produced by Channel 4 (not to be confused with BBC4, see comment below). The premise is that a single mother (Lesley Nightingale) has decided to spend a few days at a nudist beach along with her daughter, Clozzy (Isabella Nightingale Marsh). Being a 10-year-old girl, Clozzy pretends to be embarrassed by her mother’s interest in this excursion. But her actions throughout speak of a secret fascination. Instead of participating with the others, she prefers to study the goings on with amusement.

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann - The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (1)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann – The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (1)

Early in the film, Clozzy gets into the spirit of things and has a moment of joyful abandon, doing cartwheels along the water’s edge.

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann - The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (2)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann – The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (2)

Her mood is quickly deflated when she observes her mother being friendly with a man.

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann - The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (3)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann – The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (3)

This is the only time Clozzy is seen naked in the film. She and her mother dine out to find the man, a fishmonger, entertaining everyone with his accordion. Mother decides to get his attention and does a kind of seductive dance, again to the dismay of Clozzy. The couple leave together. Cozzy had teased her mother about spending time with a fishmonger—that his clothes probably reek of fish. But when no one is looking, she stops to smell the coat he was wearing

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann - The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (4)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann – The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (4)

At this point, the girl wears an interesting shirt spangled with stars which serves as a reminder of the symbolic connection between women and nature. The next day Clozzy has a cold, but not being life-threatening, mum decides to leave her to recuperate and rejoins the others in their activities.

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann - The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (5)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann – The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (5)

Clozzy sneaks off to continue her spying, sneezing along the way.

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann - The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (6)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann – The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (6)

When she returns, she finds her mother and the fishmonger making love. She watches quietly.

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann - The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (7)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann – The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (7)

After mum leaves, Clozzy investigates further. She enters the tent where the man is sleeping and waves her hand over his body as though she were stroking him. Then as she leans over to kiss him, mum walks in.

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann - The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (8)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann – The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (8)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann - The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (9)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann – The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (9)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann - The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (10)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann – The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (10)

After the trip and in a predictably duplicitous manner, Clozzy is heard telling her friends what a silly waste of time it had all been.

This film is currently viewable on YouTube. [I have been informed from a reader that the YouTube link is no longer active.  I could not find another copy online.  Essentially the full story is given here, but for those who wish to see the film, please contact me personally and you will be given a link to download it instead.  Thank you, -Ron]

6 thoughts on “Cool Fascination: The Spy Who Caught a Cold

  1. ” When she returns, she finds her mother and the fishmonger making love. She watches quietly…After mum leaves.. She enters the tent where the man is sleeping and waves her hand over his body as though she were stroking him. Then as she leans over to kiss him, mum walks in.”

    Today’s retard Right 1980s ongoing KidSeX craZed phoney Fraud Market is just for careers, ratings, and profit, crudely masked by Dumbed Down Mass Deception, as so called ‘Child Protection’ from supposed ‘Sex Abuse’.

    While UK Childline’s own stats show that a vast 96% of serious child abuses are NON-sexual with millions of NON-sex serious child abuse victims about whom these people couldn’t give a damn!

    Particularly the callous fascist prisons-for-profit USA, now caging far more kids (in total per capita) than ALL other supposed modern nations combined!!

    Thus, only honest ‘Heretics’ in today’s phoney Anglophone world can now say that kids CAN consent. They are mentally, morally, emotionally able to consent to COMMIT CRIMES and be CAGED for causing pain to Adult VICTIMS.

    So it’s CLEAR, kids have the same ability for mere benign sex with kind Adults sharing mutual pleasure and creating NO VICTIMS.

    • Thank you for your comment, although I would have preferred you express yourself more cogently. I do agree that there is a phoneyness that is simply played upon for political advantage (nothing new there). It is one of the things that Pigtails is trying to remedy. Also, in the reality of children going about their normal course of sexual exploration, the concept of consent is too simple an idea to account for the whole complexity of human nature and dignity. The notion of consent or something like it should be based on emotional maturity and expertise, not an arbitrary age. Under today’s conditions, it would be a complicated matter indeed and practically impossible to enforce. Nancy Friday (I recommend everyone read her books on female and male sexual fantasies) makes the important point from her case studies how subjective this all is. Some contributors have told of childhood sexual experiences that would reasonably be called exploitative and yet the person seems to be living a well-adjusted life and others with a similar experience can have serious hang-ups, sexual or not, because of it. It would really require people to do a lot of reading to grasp the scope of this issue, but sound bites are easier. The real problem which this commenter has alluded to is that the criminalization of sex (see Marty Klein’s excellent book America’s War on Sex) severely hampers the normal sexual expressions of young people and the proponents would actually prefer we pretend that sex did not exist at all (Klein calls them “erotophobes”). A similar conclusion is made bylegal expert Suzanne Ost (Child Pornography and Sexual Grooming) that basically says that these laws have the effect of diminishing the rights of young people and has no protective value at all. I am also outraged about our youth being treated like criminals, but I may be more blase about it since I am so cognizant of the multitude of injustices and indignities inflicted on our fellow man. This is simply another example. Please take a look at the blog article which our commenter is referring to. I simply wanted to create a suitable context before our readers look at it. And you too may find yourself screaming, “What the hell is wrong with our society?” Thank you again for the comment and the link. -Ron

    • I would like to make a remark about the linguistic style of Tina Willis’ comment. Under the name Willistina she has also made many comments in other blogs, using the same type language, or even a worse one (the owners of these blogs didn’t correct it). To a non-native English speaker like me, such a mixture of puns with a lax grammar and syntax nearly reads like gibberish, requiring considerable effort to understand it. This blog strives for scholarship and international readership, so next time you comment, try using a more standard English; BTW, we often edit comments to correct language, as you will have noticed yourself here. Note also that this blog differs from others devoted to discussions of sexual politics, so we appreciate when comments focus on the topic of the post. Thank you.

  2. It was made for Channel 4 not BBC4 the latter didn’t exist in 1995 it’s a separate broadcaster from the BBC if you didn’t know that already.

    Thanks for reviewing for this film it’s great little short. You might want to look into a New Zealand short called Two Cars One Night it’s quite good as well.

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