• Post category:Movies
  • Post last modified:December 6, 2018

Georgy Girl: Finding Love in Swinging London


It would seem that the filmmakers had little confidence in their work. Co-writer Peter Nichols, who described it as “a bit of 1960s camp about a fat girl who finds love”, was asked by director Silvio Narizzano during a preview, “Who the hell is going to pay to see this?”. “All the fat girls?”, Nichols suggested. Well, they sure did, in spades. Georgy Girl is now remembered as one of the classic portrayals of life in London during the Swinging 60s.

Georgy’s character is defined in a sequence where the now-famous title song accompanies her bold attempt to change her predictable life by getting a new, stylish hairdo. Once Georgy (Lynn Redgrave) steps out into the street and sees herself in the window she instantly regrets her decision and runs to a public toilet where she washes her hair and straightens out the hairdresser’s work. She emerges from the toilet looking very relieved. Georgy, 22, may not be prepared to change the superficial parts of her life, but she does however long for a man to love her.

She shares an apartment with Meredith (Charlotte Rampling), a sexy but very selfish girl who’s currently dating Jos Jones (Alan Bates), who is much like a male equivalent of Meredith… except for the fact that he has a heart. He soon realizes that Meredith is great for a roll in the hay, but there’s something special about Georgy. She’s also pursued by James Leamington (James Mason), a successful businessman, who’s looking for a mistress and can’t put Georgy out of his mind even though she’s not beautiful in the traditional way. But he wants to do this the smart way and offers Georgy a contract…

Out to shock audiences?
Narizzano has made a comedy with dark ingredients and some critics complained that he was only out to shock audiences, not least with the part where Meredith becomes pregnant and tells Jos that she’s previously “destroyed” two of “his” fetuses. In fact, this film could be part of a double bill, also featuring that year’s Alfie, another seminal British comedy about young people, sex and responsibilities in London. Unlike Alfie though, Georgy doesn’t have to do much; everything happens to her. She may be an “ugly duckling” (not really) who ends up with not only a baby to care for, but two men who want to spend their lives with her. Fortunately, things get a little more complicated than that.

Redgrave is terrific as Georgy, an essentially childish but vivacious girl, and she’s supported by a first-rate cast ā€“ Bates as the immature Jos; Rampling as Meredith, possibly the worst friend a girl could ever have; Bill Owen as the father who can’t believe that his daughter has something special in her; and Mason as the wealthy “second father” who has decided that the time has come to put on his moves.

That title song will be stuck in your head. You will also be amused and perhaps a little moved by Georgy’s plight. Most of all, you will either recognize yourself or a person close to you in this character, a human being with great charm and wit who lacks the capability to use these talents to promote herself. Watching this film might be an inspiration.Ā 

Georgy Girl 1966-Britain. 100 min. B/W. Produced byĀ Robert A. Goldston, Otto Plaschkes. Directed byĀ Silvio Narizzano. Screenplay: Margaret Forster, Peter Nichols. Novel: Margaret Forster. Song: “Georgy Girl” (Tom Springfield, Jim Dale). Cast: James Mason (James Leamington), Alan Bates (Jos Jones), Lynn Redgrave (Georgy), Charlotte Rampling, Bill Owen, Claire Kelly.

Trivia: Redgrave’s sister Vanessa was allegedly considered for the part of Georgy. The film was subsequently turned into a musical.

Golden Globe: Best Actress (Redgrave).Ā 

Last word:Ā “I couldn’t have had a better start than with James. From the very first day on the set he treated me as an equal, never patronizing but always ready with advice and encouragement if you seemed to need it. They kept pulling the plug on the film because they said that James and I and Alan Bates didn’t add up to much at the box office, but in the end we got it made because of James’s enthusiasm for the quirkiness of the story, and the chance it gave him to go back to his Yorkshire accent. He took very little money for it, and we all thought it was just going to be a low-budget release, so when it became such a huge success it was all the more lovely for those of us who’d always had faith in it. James made me feel that if I tried I could do anything, even sing that song, and he told me always to close my eyes just before the camera started to roll. First because it would help to concentrate my mind on the scene, and second it would make my pupils look bigger and better. I’ve always remembered to do that.” (Redgrave, “James Mason: Odd Man Out”)



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