"I'm not keen on competitions as competitions, Mr. McNabb," says Geordie MacTaggart, a very big young Scot. Asks Mr. McNabb, the local minister, "Why? Where's the harm in them?" "Where's the use in them?" says Geordie.
This Frank Launder/Sidney Gilliat movie from 1955 (Launder directed. They collaborated on the screenplay and produced) is one of the most sweet-natured stories you can hope to see. There's not much drama and there's no question how the innocent romance will turn out. The movie is all character driven, and the character is Geordie. He was a puny highland lad at school who by chance heard of the mail-order Henry Samson Body Building Course. His parents encouraged him and he exercised with a passion. Now grown, he has become the biggest and strongest lad in his glen. His father is the head gameskeeper for the local laird (played by Alastair Sim). When death occurs, Geordie (Bill Travers) becomes the head gameskeeper at 21. And then Mr. Samson writes Geordie that his next exercises should be throwing the hammer. Mr. McNabb shows him how...and it's not long before the laird and Mr. McNabb have persuaded Geordie that competing in the Highland Games is a worthy endeavor...especially if he beats all those lowland Glasgow policemen. Geordie wins, but not without some charming drama. He's recruited to join the British Olympic team for the 1956 summer games in Melbourne. And there he meets the Swedish women's shot put champion, a blonde who kisses almost as well as she puts the shot. And the rest...is just as sweet natured as what has gone before.
Geordie is an honest and forthright young man, not swayed by attractions beyond his glen. He and his almost sweetheart, Jean (Norah Gerson), are obviously meant for each other if Geordie can only figure it out. With all this good-natured charm there also is the rugged scenery of highland Scotland to enjoy. Geordie must come from behind to win at the Olympics. His Black Watch kilt plays a role. And, back in his glen, the final resolution involves true love and an awful hat with artificial flowers. It takes 45 minutes to bring Geordie to compete, but the journey is well worth it as we come to appreciate the glen and the people who live there., all friends of Geordie. There's heather on the hill, mist in the glen and, when the laird is around, always a wee dram of Scotch in the glass.
This sweet-natured charmer creates smiles. Bill Travers, a big actor who can look in some roles as a man not to be messed with, carries Geordie's honest and simple character as effortlessly as Travers himself throws the hammer. Travers makes Geordie's stubborn innocence believable. Sim as the laird is, as usual, likeably eccentric, but he doesn't overdo it. The character actors all are fine, and it was especially nice to see Miles Malleson and Raymond Huntley, two of my favorites. There's even, in a small but important role, Mr. Ramshaw as The Eagle. Mr. Ramshaw, some may recall, made his acting debut in Powell and Pressburger's I Know Where I'm Going
Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat were Britain's most original and successful movie teams, overshadowed only by The Archers, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. The two wrote, directed and produced, in various combinations, some wonderful movies. Try, for instance, The Lady Vanishes and Night Train to Munich (scriptwriters only), I See a Dark Stranger, Green for Danger, The Belles of St. Trinian's, The Happiest Days of Your Life...and Geordie.
Takes me back to my young days when just about everything was innocent. This was one of the original "feel good" films. When I saw it on DVD, wow I just had to buy it and I received it super quick......G-R-E-A-T value.
The film has a very straightforward plot: set in the Scottish Highlands, Geordie MacTaggart is a very undersized boy who takes up a postal bodybuilding course and upon achieving a Herculean body, goes on to become the world champion at hammer-throwing at the Melbourne Olympics - that’s the basics.
But as you’d expect with a Gilliat & Launder film, there’s a lot more to it than that. There’s a tremendous cast: Bill Travers plays Geordie, with Norah Gorsen as his girl-friend, Jean. The younger Geordie - prior to his bodybuilding course - is very nicely played by Paul Young (“Don’t call me wee!”) and the younger Jean, by Anna Ferguson (“Och, sorry Geordie!”)
There’s Alistair Sim as the slightly dotty Laird, employer to Geordie and his father, very well played by Jameson Clark, who has some beautifully delivered, dry, one-liners.
The blissful romance between Geordie & Jean is slightly disrupted after Geordie’s encounter with the Danish shot-putter, Helga, a rather overwhelming Doris Goddard, but not for long; Geordie’s simple charm, plus the acquisition of a hat, adorned with gruesome plastic fruit for Jean is sufficient to ensure that everything ends happily.
With terrific music by William Alwyn, this is a lovely film which doesn't date - watch it and be happy.
I saw this movie years ago as a child and loved it so when it became available on DVD I snapped it up. Memories can be tricky things and often things do not live up to expectations. This is not the case with Geordie. It is wonderful. An old fashioned story which today might be regarded as kitsch. Who cares! The hero, played by Bill Travers is the honest to the bone, noble Scots who is unwillingly thrust into the limelight and responds in the only way he knows - with honesty and integrity. The dialogue between Travers and Alastair Sims is sparkling, the scenery is beautiful and the colours gorgeous. The Melbourne Olympics are woven seamlessly into the film. The love story might raise a few feminist hackles but is more than acceptable in the context of the story. This is British film making at its' best - wonderful ensemble cast, high production values and first rate direction. All in all a great film, if you like Monarch of the Glen you will love Geordie.
My daughter bought "Ring of Bright Water" for my mum and I wondered if there was a video of a film I loved - "Geordie". Found it easily on Amazon and it was every bit as good as I remembered. Very glad I bought it.
I first watched this exactly 50 years ago at Guernsey's cinema in August 1963. Absolutely delighted to be able to get it on Amazon. A heart-warming tale about Geordie, a skinny Scottish estate gamekeepers son who decides to reply to an advert for a body-building course while he is still only a 'very wee boy'. We catch up with him a few years later as the cottage downstairs ceiling his family live in shakes and vibrates while he is doing his exercises upstairs. Alistair Simm, the laird, sets him on the road to representing Great Britain in the Hammer event at the Olympics after narrowly escaping a sledgehammer thrown by a now very well developed and fully grown Geordie (Bill Travers) while bird-watching on his estate. The film was made in 1955, released in 1956 and looks forward to the Olympic Games in Australia in 1960. There is a love interest or two, some fabulous highland scenery and a story line that has you rooting for Geordie all the way through. It may be dated but what wouldn't I give to live life at that pace today?
This 1955 Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat production (jointly writing the screenplay, with Launder directing) is a British film typical of the period – structurally, a relatively formulaic fairytale 'rags to riches’ story of Bill Travers’ highland 'strong-man’, Geordie McTaggart (yes, there are a few stereotypes thrown in!) and his unlikely rise to fame as Olympic athlete. And whilst Geordie has plenty of moments of cliché and (mainly romantic) melodrama as might be expected, it also contains enough moments of wry humour and touchingly idiosyncratic acting to raise it (for me, at least) above the 'run-of-the-mill’. In addition, the visual scope of Launder’s film is impressively wide, with Wilkie Cooper’s evocative cinematography taking in the wilds of the Scottish highlands and (latterly) an enthralling depiction of the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.
We initially follow the diminutive young Geordie (played by Paul Young, Still Game’s Shug, no less!) as, 'Billy Liar’-like, the (much mocked) schoolboy attempts to transform his physique using 'superman’ Henry Samson’s body-building correspondence course. Miraculously (it would seem!), in a mere few years, the tiny Geordie (11-year old Young) is morphed into Travers’ 33-year old hulking frame and, having carried his dying game-keeper father three miles home in a storm, is 'spotted’ by the Laird (played by the great Alastair Sim) as a potential world-beating athlete. In the 'blink of an eye’, Geordie has won a highland games hammer throwing contest, been talent-spotted by Olympic scouts and is on his way (ocean liner-bound) to Oz (much to the despair of his childhood sweetheart, Norah Gorsen’s Jean).
Launder’s film is mostly simple, good, old-fashioned storytelling, with any more significant 'messages’ limited to the Laird’s digs at government ('..that confounded rabble in parliament..’) and his naturalist ('anti-kestrel shooting’) tendencies. Acting-wise, Sim is (as ever) excellent (though, perhaps, underused) as the rambling eccentric, whilst other British acting stalwarts turn in nice performances, including Raymond Huntley as an Olympic scout, Ealing-regular Miles Malleson as Olympic official, Lord Paunceton (who attempts to dissuade Geordie from his plan to wear his kilt during the competition) and Stanley Baxter as Geordie’s local postman. There is also an amusing side-story as the homesick Geordie is 'accosted’ by flirtatious Danish shot-putter (yes, really) Doris Goddard’s Helga on his way to the games (arousing, via the radio, feelings of jealousy in Jean back home).
Of course, Launder’s film is not exactly ground-breaking and does not match the best of the Ealing films (against which obvious parallels can be drawn), but it still provides a good hour and a half’s entertainment.