“Geordie,” or “Wee Geordie,” (1955) as you may know it, has been considered another of the classic comedies Britain made and exported in the 1950s. It’s a 93-minute comedy/drama/romance, with a strong sports element, set in Scotland, although it was filmed in Shepperton Studios. It was taglined “A Giant among Comedies.” And, surprisingly enough, it’s in full glorious Technicolor, giving us Scottish heather in its purple prime, sparkling lochs, verdant glens and green fields. Wee Scottish lad Geordie, who hopes to win his classmate Jean, undertakes a body building program guaranteed to pack on muscles, and indeed he does grow a treat. He successfully gains height, weight and strength, wins Jean; also a slot as a hammer thrower on the British Olympics team preparing to compete in the 1956 games in Melbourne, Australia. However, even as he wins his event, wearing his kilt, radio reports from down under mistakenly broadcast that the gold medal winning athlete has a new love; Geordie must clear that up when he gets home. Geordie Mac Taggart is well played by Bill Travers, (BORN FREE). The great British comic actor Alastair Sim (A CHRISTMAS CAROL) turns in a yeoman supporting performance as the Laird. Geordie’s mail order physical culture guru Henry Samson (Francis DeWolff) is obviously an affectionate spoof of real life mail order muscle building he-man Charles Atlas. Other stalwarts of British 1950s comedy, such as Raymond Huntley, (PASSPORT TO PIMLICO) as an Olympic selector, and Miles Malleson (KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS) as Lord Paunceton, also appear. Frank Launder directed. The film does an excellent job of memorializing its set time and place; the postman doing his rounds on a heavy old bicycle, the old house, built of local stone outside and in, in which Geordie’s family lives, and in which his Mum darns socks, surely a lost art or craft; the multi-layer tweeds locals wear in their chilly weather, horse and donkey carts. The film is lovely to look at, but someone has been foolish in the extreme. These actors are talking their best Scottish dialect, and there are no subtitles. Alastair Sim’s presumably funny dialog went right by me, as I suppose it will go by most others on my side of the pond. What a waste, and what a case of being penny wise and pound foolish. I remember this film with delight from my childhood, but I can‘t recommend it now.
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