Gregory (John Gordon Sinclair) is a Scottish teenager with girls on his mind and tonight he and his friends are playing Peeping Tom with a young nurse unaware that she is being spied on as she undresses. "That's a brassiere!" he exclaims as the clothes come off, and he and his pals are very impressed by what they witness. However, this is about as close as they can get to the opposite sex at the moment, though all that's about to change. Gregory is on the school football team and they are performing very poorly this season, much to the chagrin of the coach Mr Menzies (Jake D'Arcy), so he announces changes are to be made - but even he doesn't expect what happens...
After his first film, That Sinking Feeling, made waves on his home soil, writer and director Bill Forsyth hit the big time with Gregory's Girl, an unassuming tale of puppy love in Cumbernauld that won admirers across the world. It had much the same tone as his previous film, but with the romance angle included it struck a further chord with those who recalled their own adolescence, or those who were going through it at the time: his eye for the quirks of his characters was already ideal for his small scale storytelling and here was a film that proved God was in the details.
Our hero is a gangling, awkward young fellow desperate for female company whose attention is drawn to a certain Dorothy (Dee Hepburn). Why is this so? It's because she has tried out for the school football team, much to the surprise of Mr Menzies who nevertheless can't ignore the fact that she's a better player than any of the boys on the team. Gregory is immediately smitten, but Dorothy is something of an enigma and remains so till that final shot of her jogging through the night; it's as if she was placed on Earth solely to point Gregory in the right direction in finding love.
Not that he doesn't make attempts to get to know her better, because he does, conversations that reveal her to be a far more sophisticated personailty than he is - she's been to Italy, after all, and picked up the language. Yet it's plain to see that she would never be seriously interested in him, not that loveblind Gregory would ever admit it. He does garner advice from his grave little sister Madeline (Allison Forster), however, and she, like Dorothy, points him in the right direction. By skirting around the issues with comedy, Forsyth manages to get to the source of his main character's problems, and their solution.
But look at the people surrounding Gregory. His best friends include Andy (Robert Buchanan), a hapless source of useless information ("It's a well-known fact!") who makes up his mind to hitchhike to Caracas where he's heard the women outnumber the men eight to one. Then there's Steve (Billy Greenlees) who is constantly thinking of food, not because he's greedy, but because he is training to be a chef. The headmaster is famed Scottish comedian Chic Murray, seen tickling the ivories for his own entertainment in an empty classroom. And that's not to mention Clare Grogan, the real Gregory's Girl. Even the penguin matters. Put all these deceptively casually observed characters together and the result is as light as a souffle, but warm and affecting too. It's no surprise that it makes many of its fans feel nostalgic - it did even when it was first released. Music by Colin Tully.
[Second Sight's bluray features an audio commentary will Bill Forsyth and Mark Kermode, interviews with both Bill Forsyth and Clare Grogan along with an alternate US soundtrack]
Scottish writer and director whose gloomily whimsical comedies brought him worldwide recognition. Starting as an industrial filmmaker, he made the no-budget That Sinking Feeling which got him noticed enough to make the classic Gregory's Girl. This led to the similarly well-crafted and heartwarming Local Hero, and the less successful but no less enjoyable Comfort and Joy. Forsyth moved to America for his next films, quirky drama Housekeeping, crime comedy Breaking In, and ambitious but misguided Being Human, then finally returned to Scotland, and his first big success, with ill-received sequel Gregory's Two Girls. He has now retired from directing to concentrate on writing.