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  Geordie Is Thatta Fact?
Year: 1955
Director: Frank Launder
Stars: Alastair Sim, Bill Travers, Norah Gorsen, Molly Urquhart, Francis De Wolff, Jack Radcliffe, Brian Reece, Raymond Huntley, Miles Malleson, Jameson Clark, Doris Goddard, Stanley Baxter, Duncan Macrae, Paul Young, Anna Ferguson, Margaret Boyd, Michael Ripper
Genre: Comedy, Drama, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 2 votes)
Review: Wee Geordie (Paul Young) lives in the Highlands of Scotland with his family, his father (Jameson Clark) being the head gamekeeper to the Laird of the area (Alastair Sim), but the boy is preoccupied with his lack of height. In school, when the teacher (Duncan Macrae) tells him to stand up when he is answering, Geordie has to respond that he standing up, and when he goes out to see the eagle's nest with his friend Jean (Anna Ferguson), he has to admit defeat when she does not for he is not tall enough to see over the ridge in the mountain where the chicks have been hatched. What can he possibly do to remedy this state of affairs?

Geordie was a film based on the popular book by David Walker, and emerged as even more successful on celluloid as it was on paper, making a star of Bill Travers. He played Geordie as a man, because what the boy decides to do is send away for a body building course courtesy of the Charles Atlas-inspired Walter Samson (Francis De Wolff) to increase his strength and his size, a notion which not only gives him the position of Samson's star pupil (his letters are read out in voiceover), but also makes him grow to Travers' six foot six inch frame. What this is all headed for is an Olympics bid, but Geordie takes a lot of persuading.

This stubborness to stay away from anything outside the sphere of his Highland home might, in other hands, been infuriating to spend ninety minutes with, but thanks to a canny script by the director-producer-writer team of Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat and some very endearing playing by Travers, this was a film that charmed almost everyone who saw it. Most recall it as being an all out comedy, but it has its fair share of dramatic moments too, such as the sequence where Geordie is out with his father when the old man suffers a heart attack and his son has to carry him home on his shoulders through the pouring rain. This serves to underline that what Geordie really needs is a guiding hand to reach his full potential.

Therefore with his actual dad out of the way, he requires a new father figure to help, and as if Samson wasn't enough, he also gets the advice of the Laird, with Sim typically marvellous in the role. His scene where he almost gets struck with the hammer Geordie has thrown (on Samson's advice that he should take up a sport), then has a go himself is a small masterpiece of comedy, and it leads the plot to its main character's full ability as a champion hammer thrower. Still he doesn't see much point in competitions, but he does have a secret weapon to go with his immense strength, and that's the love of a good woman. Yes, Jean (Norah Gorsen) has grown up, although her accent has grown worse, and she encourages her man to be all he can be.

Although the plot appeared to have been inspired by the picture on a packet of Scott's Porage Oats, and things stay resolutely Caledonian throughout, it's this national pride that is the key to the film's likeability. Geordie is in no way big headed, he loves his country and is happiest there among the Highland scenery that we get to see plenty of, but he's an ideal representation of his homeland, particularly when he is persuaded to enter the Olympic Games at Melbourne. He is reluctant to leave Jean and his family and friends, but they tell him that he has it in him to be a true champion, so he embarks on the long journey Down Under. Along the way, a Danish shotputter called Helga (Doris Goddard) takes a shine to him and insists on hearing about Scotland from him, which soothes his homesickness, although it does result in trouble later on. Nothing that can't be solved, of course, as here was a film that warmed and delighted throughout, never striking a wrong note with its light eccentricity and goodnatured Scottish idiosyncrasies. Music by William Alwyn.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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