on 7 September 2004
If you like English humour and actors who are excellent at their craft, then you can't go past 'Genevieve'. Comedy and a little bit of ongoing English 'history' is a great mix. John Gregson and Kenneth More battle it out on the road in the London to Brighton rally much to the bemusement of their lady partners.
Kay Kendall's trumpet solo is a laugh and the tricks that John and Kenneth get up to are delightful. A true taste of English comedy and theater from an age when life was a little less complicated and thoroughly genuine.
I highly recommend this film to all, but have one criticism ...... the film re-mastering was a little disappointing..... but not enough to put you off a truly wonderful film
This film about the London to Brighton veteran car run and the rivalry between Ambrose Claverhouse (Moore), Alan McKim (Gregson) and their respective ladies Rosalind Peters (Kendall) and Wendy McKim (Sheridan) is one of the great British Classics, so bound up with our national eccentricities it is possibly incomprehensible anywhere else.
The fine comic acting full of high spirits enraptures one from the very beginning, and soon the cars become characters in the headlong race to the coast.
Enormously enjoyable one is left with two enduring memories, first Larry Adler's haunting theme, but even more for Kay Kendall and her unforgettable performance personally playing the trumpet whilst supposedly drunk in a night club in Brighton. Whenever one thinks of Kay one thinks of this scene, but this vivacious young actress made other fine films before her early death from leukaemia aged 33.
Incredibly the Rank organisation considered the film a total failure unsuitable for release, and it only found its way onto a commercial screen as a substitute for another film that was unavailable. After that all is history as they say.
The indifferent quality of the photography cannot be blamed on the digital remastering, it was always there as the director insisted on shooting regardless.
Lust, jealousy, ruthless conniving...and that's for starters. No, this isn't a Lana Turner and John Garfield film. This is Genevieve, one of the greatest of the classic English comedies from the late Forties and early Fifties. The movie is witty, warming and, above all else, funny.
Genevieve is a 1904 Darrocq roadster, driven by the ordinarily levelheaded young barrister, Alan McKim (John Gregson), on the London to Brighton and back annual antique car rally. By his side is his indulgent and sometimes exasperated wife, Wendy (Dinah Sheridan). Joining him in a 1904 Stryker is Alan's best friend, the irrepressible Ambrose Claverhouse (Kenneth More). Joining Ambrose is the beautiful creature he hopes to have an emotional experience with overnight in Brighton, the elegant and slightly off-center Rosalind Peters (Kay Kendall). Stuffed in the Stryker's small back seat is Suzy, Rosalind's Saint Bernard. And off they go, the cars snorting and puffing, wheezing and sometimes breaking down. We have a chance to see how much the annual rally and Genevieve mean to Alan and how much Wendy, who'd rather be at a party that evening, loves him. We learn what a loud and funny man Ambrose can be, and how just below the surface is a competitive streak just waiting to break free. And we see what a beautiful creature the long-legged and fey Rosalind is, and that she just might be Ambrose's match. Says Rosalind to Wendy, "Ambrose only seems to think about two things. That silly old car - and the other thing." Says Wendy to Rosalind, "What other thing? Oh. My husband only thinks about the car."
The four reach Brighton and enough things happen to them to keep us smiling. But then a little misunderstanding leads to a 100 pound bet as to who will get back to London and cross the Westminster Bridge finish line first. What had been a friendly run turns into a cutthroat competition. Ambrose comes into his own...and nice guy Alan matches him. It's not too long before Wendy and Rosalind, who at first thought the men were behaving like boys, join them in the thrill of the race. It's nip and tuck all the way, with stratagems, close calls and some truly ruthless plotting. It's great.
Among the many reasons for this movie's charm and success are the four actors. Sheridan is an expert actress and light comedienne, likable and believable. Gregson is stolid but equally likable. They make a nice couple. Almost blowing them away, however, are Kenneth More and Kay Kendall. More had been the confident, energetic bit player or second lead for years. Kendall, with her looks, style and way with words had been slowly inching up the star ladder. With this movie and the following year's Doctor in the House, they both made it to the top. More was a much more versatile and subtle actor than his movie persona might have you believe. Ambrose Claverhouse may be loud and confident, he might even be just a bit of a bully, and he certainly has a victory laugh that will drive you crazy, but More is able with all this to make the guy funny and even appealing. We feel rather sorry for Ambrose when his emotional experience with Rosalind is not to be. Kendall simply was one of a kind...so elegant, so funny, so off the wall. When, tipsy on the champagne Ambrose has been giving her while the four of them dine, Rosalind decides to play the trumpet, Kendall is so funny you'll want to watch the scene again. Kendall has to set up the character at the table. She has to sound a little slurred. She has to walk carefully to the bandstand. She has to mime playing the trumpet, first slowly and sweet and then swinging, and she has to pass out back in her chair. Kendall does all this with exquisite timing and style. She's so funny because she knows not to try for a moment to be funny. Kendall didn't have much time at the top. She died six years later at 33 of leukemia.
Not the least of Genevieve's charms is the jaunty, quirky music for the film composed and played by Larry Adler, perhaps the best harmonica player ever. Adler was one of those great American artists who were blacklisted because he wouldn't knuckle under to the vogue for self-abasing testimony before Congressional committees about his political beliefs. Unable to find much work in America he moved to Britain and started over. When Genevieve was released in the United States, his name was removed on the credits as the composer and another name substituted. When the music won an Academy Award, there was no mention of Larry Adler. It took years before the Oscar organization rectified this. Adler decided to stay where he was, in Britain. He kept his citizenship but only returned to the States later for concert or composing gigs.
Genevieve looks fine but the movie deserves a first-class restoration treatment. The listed run time of 110 minutes includes a 25-minute documentary about the making of the movie titled A Profile of Genevieve.
on 16 May 2004
It is difficult to find words to describe this charming, witty and entertaining film. The cast is impeccable, the directing inspirational and the story so charming! Watch the special features, to find out more about the film; it is well worth it. Take yourself back to better times and climb aboard Genevieve, for a run to Brighton you'll never forget!
Topped off with a brilliant score by Larry Adler, it is a beautiful film, with nostalgia and fun! Watch out for Joyce Grenfell; such a small part, but always lovely to see her!
on 13 July 2011
Returned for refund because the "Special Edition" DVD extras on delivered disc were not those advertised. In particular the Profile Of Genevieve Documentary was missing; no reminiscences from Dinah Sheridan, no discussion of filming on location, no Larry Adler about his music score, no short piece on the locations used. Instead got cast biographies and production notes. Amazon were unable to supply the correct disc, only offered a refund.
on 23 November 2003
This is an oldie, but a classic and funny movie. A sentintemental film about mans ideas of racing, betting and the one love of a particular car. Its got plenty of laughs and is the kind of film that will leave you will a smile on your face.
If you like car racing movies, comedy and are looking for an intersting and captivating movie, then this is the movie for you, it wont bore the life out of you, and is definitely a film for mans/womans best friend 'his/her car'.
So if you ever owned a car, that you almost cried the day you had to sell it, or if you still have that precious little car you feel you could never part with, that is part of your memories.
Then watch this movie, for car lovers everywhere