In a parallel universe, everyone would want to know Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?
, because although this unpretentious British comedy didn't get even a fraction of the attention lavished on The Full Monty
, it turns out to be an overlooked gem of a film. In 1977, retired Yorkshire codger Harold (Tom Courtenay) causes a stir when he was inspired by Uri Gellar to rediscover his own telepathic/telekinetic talents. During the investigation of an old folk's home accident, Harold's son Vince (Michael Legge) falls for workmate Joanne (Laura Fraser) whose scientist father (Stephen Fry) is asked to disprove the miracles. In a clash between the confused youth torn between disco and punk, Vince finds out all sorts of family secrets, including what his mum (Lulu) is really up to each night at the local nightclub (a fantastic set-piece to rival Boogie Nights
). The story's elements tie together in a consistently charming homage to the 70s: wallpaper, flares, hair, shirts and a Starsky and Hutch
car dress the background; the wardrobe of "The Turd Tache" (David Thewlis) colours the foreground. Other details make it all terrific fun, such as Mark Williams hosting the inspired Thornton Tonight
show, and cameos from John Craven, Angela Rippon, Jan Leeming, Keith Chegwin,and even Alan Whicker! --Paul Tonks