Palatable: Gregory’s Girl

Gregory’s Girl (1980)

Written and directed by Bill Forsyth
Produced by Davina Belling, Clive Parsons
Starring John Gordon Sinclair, Robert Buchanan, Graham Thompson, Billy Greenlees, Dee Hepburn, Jake D’Arcy, Clare Grogan, Alan Love, Caroline Guthrie, Carol Macartney, Douglas Sannachan, Allison Forster, Chic Murray, John Bett, Alex Norton, Dave Anderson


His unrequited crush on his secondary school’s sportive star striker (Hepburn) prepossesses a zanily ungainly student (Sinclair) who’s more girl-crazy than his eccentric friends (Buchanan, Greenlees, Thompson), but too clueless to find romance without help from his sagacious sister (Forster) and female peers (Guthrie, Macartney, Grogan), who’ve a clearer perspective than he of his prospects.


Quirks of characters and consequences constitute most of Forsyth’s affable humor throughout his gentle yet earthy charmer, which is slimly plotted but so entertaining that most won’t mind or notice.


Forsyth sets his shots with commonplace skill, but draws eye and attention with panning and tracking shots, as one oscillating to follow Sinclair and Forster revolving on a playground’s carousel.


Rich and restrained colors mesh through Michael Coulter’s lenses, even during a few fuzzy shots.


Most of John Gow’s splices are inconspicuously sensible, but some conversations are overcut to insinuate a certain dubiety regarding Forsyth’s blocking.


As goofy, gawky, gangly Gregory, naturalistically twitchy Sinclair secured a funny footnote in the annals of British cinema. Dully pretty Hepburn, toothily exuberant Buchanan and sardonic Greenlees are fun foils to their lovable leading man. Murray understatedly steals a couple of scenes when his stern headmaster indulges cibarious and pianistic passions.


Colin Tully’s saxy, reedy arrangements are typical of MOR in the ’70s and ’80s, and his upbeat music is of a sort that most probably prefer to Muzak when waiting on hold.


A contrast between precocious, enterprising preteens (such as Forster’s junior sibling) and the oversexed, excitable teenagers who they jeer produces some hilarious incidents. Anecdotes of his sexual adventures are recounted by a young window washer (Sannachan) to admiring upperclassmen. Buchanan repeatedly, ridiculously fails to chat with schoolmates of the opposite sex by reciting revolting factoids.


Only a few half-flubbed lines and excessively edited scenes are noticeable.


Forsyth’s popular comedic classic is satisfyingly silly and sentimental, a sweetly simple fiction of awkward adolescence in all its bubbly, breathless glory. Scotland’s rightly renowned for its provincial humor and proud of movies like this, in which it’s enjoyably exhibited.

Mediocre: Tess

Tess (1979)
Directed by Roman Polanski
Written by Thomas Hardy, Gérard Brach, Roman Polanski, John Brownjohn
Produced by Claude Berri, Timothy Burrill, Jean-Pierre Rassam, Pierre Grunstein
Starring Nastassja Kinski, Peter Firth, Leigh Lawson, John Collin, Rosemary Martin, Carolyn Pickles, Sylvia Coleridge, Suzanna Hamilton, Caroline Embling, Fred Bryant, David Markham, Pascale de Boysson, Josine Comellas, Dicken Ashworth, Arielle Dombasle, John Bett, Tom Chadbon, Richard Pearson, Tony Church

Multiple-choice Tesst

  1. Polanski’s most swank, syrupy, celebrated feature is dedicated “To Sharon.” Who other than his famously slain wife might’ve been a more fitting dedicatee?
    1. Lead Nastassja Kinski (whose boundless conceit and opportunism the director assuaged while boffing her)
    2. Gloria Steinem
    3. Judge Laurence J. Rittenband (LOL)
    4. Any of the above
  2. At the conclusion of the first scene, a local parson (Church) pivotally apprises our peasant protagonist’s alcoholic father (Collin) that the noble, Norman d’Urbervilles were direct ascendants of his lowly Durbeyfields. In how many instances is that datum reiterated during this story?
    1. 10,000
    2. 2
    3. 11
    4. Ugh! Too often
  3. Sweet, simple, saturnine Tess (Kinski) would prefer to moil her years away than exploit her beauty and luxuriate lifelong for high espousal. Ergo, she appeals to:
    1. Careerists
    2. Strivers
    3. Single mothers
    4. All of the above
  4. How does the viewer secern Alec’s (Lawson) rape of Tess from mere seduction?
    1. Her momentary resistance
    2. Her sheer submission
    3. This scene’s orchestral swells, transitioning abruptly from a minor to major key
    4. Her later acceptance of his largess
    5. Who knows?
  5. Those elements compensating for Brach’s, Polanski’s, and Brownjohn’s prosy, often bathetic treatment of Hardy’s dialogue include:
    1. An able cast obliged to navigate their plenitude of leaden lines
    2. Stunning, respectively foggy and effulgent photography courtesy of Geoffrey Unsworth and Ghislain Cloquet
    3. Pierre Guffroy’s production design, which further beautifies every embellished interior
    4. Polanski’s painterly vision of landscapes, interiors and his most photogenic players, instanced by lavish long shots out of doors, or slow pans, as of a creamery’s milk dripping from suspended bags
    5. One gushingly romantic (albeit often misapplied) score composed by Philippe Sarde
    6. All of the above
  6. At her most morose, Tess assumes the demeanor of:
    1. Any dour teen
    2. A petty ingrate
    3. A goth
    4. All of the above
  7. Rather than to hypocritically disclaim, then desert Tess on their wedding night sequent to her confession, Angel (Firth) might’ve instead:
    1. Reconsidered her worth after consummating their marital union with a hearty feast and fuck
    2. Compared their respective premarital indiscretions to objectively assess their relationship
    3. Divorced Tess and remarried another of two comely, receptive prospects (Dombasle, Hamilton)
    4. Any of the above
  8. Which course of action would’ve been preferable to Tess’s madcap murder of the peremptory and prickish, yet fervid and freehanded Alec?
    1. To absquatulate with Angel without killing him
    2. To divorce Alec on the grounds of her bigamy without killing him
    3. To finally set aside her picayune moral pretensions and secretly live with both and maximize her romantic, sexual and financial benefit without killing him
    4. To contemplate the potential fate of her mother and siblings, who’ve been generously housed by her victim, so to avert his murder
    5. Anything besides murder
    6. Any of the above
  9. Polanski’s is the ninth among how many adaptations of Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles?
    1. Nine
    2. Eleven
    3. Four
    4. Too many
  10. Notwithstanding the novel’s and movie’s commination of antiquated Victorian mores, a prolix blurb of the latter’s theatrical poster enounces it, “As timely today as the day it was written.” Why?
    1. Marketing
    2. Feminism
    3. Polanski sought to rehabilitate his tarnished image
    4. All of the above

Answers: 4, 3 or 4, 4, 5, 6, 4, 4, 6, 2 or 4, 4