Julie (Lesley Dudley) is not a happy little girl. The coronation of Elizabeth is going to occur in a couple of days' time and she is not able to go, and she so wants to see the Queen wearing her crown. Someone in her class at school is going, and Julie is very envious, asking her teacher Miss Stokes (Noelle Middleton) to accompany her there, but she turns her down. There's only one option left to the child and that is to rely on her good friend John (Colin Gibson) who initially refuses to go with her, yet as he has an uncle who is a guardsman in London, the next day he thinks, well, why not?
John and Julie was a slight comedy designed to commemorate the coronation that had happened a couple of years before, looking for all the world as if the producer had got his hands on some of the footage of that day and decided to build a film around it. In its way this is an example of that rare thing, a British road movie, only this is centred in its twee manner around two young children who run away from their Dorset homes to be part of the celebrations. It's never stated outright, but Julie appears to be an orphan, or at least her parents are never mentioned, adding a layer of poignancy.
John's parents on the other hand are very much present, played by Megs Jenkins as his understanding mother and Sid James as his incorrigible grump of a father who threatens to give John a beating he'll never forget once he catches up with him. The dad here represents the republican point of view, complaining about well nigh everything including British Rail and the Post Office, but most of all the fact that he has to shell out as a U.K. citizen to pay for the celebration in London. However, he is never sympathetic until the very end when the sweep of the occasion bowls him over.
Therefore if you're not a monarchist then you may be resistant to the charms of a story which concentrates on how marvellously the Queen brought together the Commonwealth, as seen through the eyes of two of her youngest subjects. Along the way, writer and director William Fairchild keeps their journey lively with hitching rides on coaches and "borrowing" bicycles well to the fore, as well as a selection of recognisable British thesps, or foreign talent in Britain, including Peter Sellers in possibly his most laidback role as a policeman on the kids' trail.
But the real stars are the children, perhaps not so much John, who is something of a drip, but most definitely Julie, as played by Dudley who may have a sour face, but has a way of wrapping everyone around her little finger in a manner which unintentionally illustrates the methods children use to bring adults who feel it is their duty to keep them happy closer to fulfilling their demands. Such is Julie's grim visage that the rest of the characters grow intent on cheering her up, and she can be very funny in her machinations. The film attempts to show a cross section of the country and beyond, so you get a variety ranging from Wilfrid Hyde-White as a Good Samaritan military man to Moira Lister playing a prostitute (really!) whose heart is warmed by Julie, peppered with such British traditions as coach parties and brawling in the street. It's a novelty now, but has its engaging qualities as a snapshot of where the country believed it was in the mid-fifties. Music by Philip Green, heavy on the trumpet solos.