Never have I stumbled over a more delightful film.
While searching for films about sports, the 1955 British film “Geordie,” released in the U.S. as “Wee Geordie,” came up in the results. I hadn’t heard of this film or several of the stars, but I decided to give it a go and I’m glad I did.
Directed by Frank Launder, “Geordie” follows a young boy named Geordie MacTaggart (Paul Young) who is the smallest in his class and Scottish village. The “wee” boy is fed up with being picked on at school and harassed about his height.
Geordie spots an advertisement for a mail-order body-building course on the back of his father’s (Jameson Clark) newspaper. He orders Henry Samson’s (Francis DeWolff) exercise correspondence and continues to work through the course until he’s a tall, strong 21-year-old man (Bill Travers — who was 6′ 6″). Geordie’s girl Jean (Norah Gorsen) is aggravated by the exercises and feels like it takes up all of his time.
After Geordie’s father dies, Mr. Samson encourages Geordie to take a sport, such as hammer throwing. The minister (Jack Radcliffe) and the Laird (Alastair Sim) encourage Geordie to compete. Though Geordie isn’t interested in competing, he wins the Highland Games. Because of his success, members of the Olympics selection committee seek Geordie out and invite him to the Melbourne Olympic Games in Australia. Again, Geordie is reluctant to leave home.
On the ship voyage to Australia, he is a problem for the committee, because he doesn’t want to train for the games and is homesick. Danish shot putter Helga (Doris Goddard) takes a shining to Geordie, which brightens his spirits some, but he’s still thinking about Jean.
When the games begin, the committee is again upset with Geordie because he refuses to wear the flannel suit uniform during the opening ceremonies and saying he promised his mother (Molly Urquhart) he would wear his late father’s kilt. Geordie also won’t compete if he can’t wear his father’s kilt.
Geordie’s village is listening on the radio as he competes. He’s doing poorly, but wins the world record when he thinks of Jean. In the excitement of his winning, Helga jumps in his arms and kisses him—which is reported over the radio. After winning, he decides he is through with competing and muscle-building.
I had such a wonderful time watching “Geordie.” It’s a quirky, simple plot, but so charming and it moves quickly. Beginning with Young Geordie, Paul Young is adorable and watching him work to be strong is funny and sweet. The movie is also hilarious, but in a subtle way. I actually laughed out loud several times. For example:
• After Geordie is a grown, strong man, you can see in the background of a scene that his parent’s home is decorated with multiple photos of Mr. Samson flexing his muscles.
• Alastair Sim attempts to “throw the hammer” and fails in a hilarious way
• The minister masterfully throws the hammer and Sim and Travers watch in awe.
Reading sentences about the funny scenes isn’t as effective, because the funny moments were nuanced.
It didn’t matter that I was only (barely) familiar with two actors in the film—Bill Travers and Alaster Sim—because the story and setting kept me engaged. The film was written by Leslie Gilliat and Sidney Gilliat, who produced the film along with director Frank Launder.
Aside from the storyline and actors, one of the most important aspects of the movie was the beautiful backdrop of the Scottish Highlands. “Geordie” was filmed by in gorgeous, breathtaking Technicolor.
The story isn’t complex, and this film didn’t win any awards, but “Geordie” should be on your “to watch” list. It’s lovely and charming.