Cast & Crew
Georgy Parkin is a plump and somewhat forlorn creature who partially disapproves of her parents working as servants in the palatial London home of middle-aged James Leamington and his ailing, forever-complaining wife. Resigned to her fate as one of life's misfits, Georgy shares a flat with a beautiful but cold and amoral violinist named Meredith, who regards Georgy as little more than an unobtrusive convenience who keeps the apartment neat and tidy. In return, Georgy is able to share vicariously in Meredith's numerous love affairs, particularly a long-standing affair with Jos, a madcap Cockney. One day, to her astonishment, Georgy is informed by Mr. Leamington that he would like her to become his mistress and that he has taken the trouble to have legal papers drawn up on their "agreement." Georgy, however, chooses to remain a virginal observer in her flat with Meredith, who reveals that she has become pregnant for the third time by Jos. On the previous occasions Meredith had undergone abortions, but this time Jos persuades her to marry him and have his child. Georgy is thrilled to stay on at the flat and keep house for them. While Meredith is at the hospital giving birth, Jos--first playfully, then seriously--seduces Georgy, and in the days that follow they live together idyllically. Consequently, when Meredith, who intends to put her unwanted baby up for adoption, learns of the love between Georgy and Jos, she gladly turns the infant over to them and blithely returns to her former life. For a time Georgy and Jos are happy, but Jos soon becomes restless and a little annoyed at Georgy's lavishing all of her love upon the baby. In an attempt to regain Georgy's undivided love, Jos takes her on a boat trip and clowns about pathetically in the hope they can recapture their lighthearted intimacy. Both realize, however, that something has gone out of their love, and when Jos eventually moves out, Georgy knows that the authorities will soon come and take her beloved baby away from her. All is not lost, however; for Mr. Leamington, whose wife has since died, comes to the rescue. If Georgy will marry him, he will adopt the child. Mr. Leamington thus wins his "Georgy Girl," and Georgy happily keeps her baby and prepares for a life of upper-class matrimonial comfort.
Best Supporting Actor
Georgy Girl - Georgy Girl
Georgy Girl was Lynn Redgrave's first starring role and her exuberant performance won her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress that year (she was up against her own sister Vanessa in Morgan! but they lost to Elizabeth Taylor for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?). The film was also a mid-career highpoint for James Mason in the supporting role of James Leamington, the wealthy employer of Georgy's parents and a love struck suitor who wants Georgy to be his mistress. Mason later admitted that "not since The Seventh Veil (1946) had I been connected with such a palpable hit." Not only did he receive top billing over his co-stars in the credits but his performance was also Oscar nominated (in the Best Supporting Actor category).
In the biography James Mason: Odd Man Out by Sheridan Morley, Lynn Redgrave recalled the filming of Georgy Girl and her admiration for James Mason: "I couldn't have had a better start than with James. From the very first day on the set he treated me as an equal, never patronizing but always ready with advice and encouragement if you seemed to need it. They kept pulling the plug on the film because they said that James and I and Alan Bates didn't add up to much at the box office, but in the end we got it made because of James's enthusiasm for the quirkiness of the story, and the chance it gave him to go back to his Yorkshire accent. He took very little money for it, and we all thought it was just going to be a low-budget release, so when it became such a huge success it was all the more lovely for those of us who'd always had faith in it. James made me feel that if I tried I could do anything, even sing that song, and he told me always to close my eyes just before the camera started to roll. First because it would help to concentrate my mind on the scene, and second it would make my pupils look bigger and better. I've always remembered to do that."
No less important to the success of Georgy Girl were Alan Bates and Charlotte Rampling in supporting roles and who were still relatively unknown actors at the time. Bates, cast as the irresponsible Jos, would become a leading man within the year, scoring excellent reviews for his work in King of Hearts (1966) and Far From the Madding Crowd (1967). By the end of the decade, he had proved himself to be one of England's most powerful dramatic actors, thanks to outstanding performances in Women in Love (1969) and The Go-Between (1970). Charlotte Rampling, on the other hand, playing Georgy's bitchy roommate Meredith, didn't emerge as a major actress until her controversial role in The Night Porter opposite Dirk Bogarde in 1974. However, her cynical presence in Georgy Girl is unforgettable. From her unapologetic pursuit of hedonist pleasure to the total contempt she feels for her own pregnant state, Rampling's Meredith is a completely amoral creature, one whose behavior shocked some moviegoers at the time, particularly her mean-spirited remarks about abortion, marriage and relationships.
But Georgy Girl is no saint herself and she's anything but a shrinking violet when it comes to expressing herself, no matter how awkward and painful it might be. In an interview with Leonard Probst, Redgrave later admitted that she saw Georgy as "very ruthless. Most people saw her as a sweet softie. I don't think she was a softie at all. She was manipulating and very shrewd. People loved her, I think, because they recognized their own terrible faults and were glad to see them put up on the screen."
Yet, in spite of the film's huge success, not all critics were in love with Georgy Girl. Pauline Kael was one of the few reviewers to question the film's ambivalent tone and wrote, "At Georgy Girl you may find yourself laughing but intermittently, in discomfort or even stupefaction, asking yourself, "What are they doing in this movie? Do they know what they're doing?" They're obviously very clever, very talented, but what's going on?...Lack of control is made grotesquely cute." Still, the majority opinion was best summed up by London's Daily Express which stated that "the whole film is a delight." In addition to Redgrave and Mason's Oscar nominations, Georgy Girl also received Academy Award nominations for Best Cinematography (Ken Higgins) and Best Song, which went on to become a top forty hit recorded by The Seekers.
Producer: Robert A. Goldston, Otto Plaschkes
Director: Silvio Narizzano
Screenplay: Margaret Forster, Peter Nichols
Art Direction: Tony Woollard
Cinematography: Kenneth Higgins
Costume Design: Mary Quant
Film Editing: John Bloom
Original Music: Alexander Faris, Tom Springfield
Principal Cast: Lynn Redgrave (Georgy), Alan Bates (Jos), James Mason (James Leamington), Charlotte Rampling (Meredith), Bill Owen (Ted), Clare Kelly (Doris), Rachel Kempson (Ellen).
by Jeff Stafford
Georgy Girl - Georgy Girl
Georgy Girl on DVD
As co-scripted by Margaret Forster from her novel, the heroine of the piece, Georgina Parkin (Lynn Redgrave), is a twentysomething virgin; a tad dumpy, a titch dowdy, but full of an insouciant charm. Her days are spent leading pre-schoolers in dance classes within the millionaire's manse where her domestic parents (Bill Owen, Claire Kelly) are employed. From there, she retreats cross town to the squalid flat she shares with Meredith (Charlotte Rampling), a strikingly gorgeous and very promiscuous orchestra violinist, who's all too willing to leave Georgy in the lurch at the promise of a cute guy and a good time. It's a workable enough arrangement, until the day Meredith announces she's pregnant, and offhandedly decides that she'll go to term and marry her steady, the boisterous bank clerk and failed flautist Jos (Alan Bates).
Georgy's circumstances get even more dicey once her folks' employer, Mr. Leamington (James Mason), decides that he wants to move past the fatherly affection that he's lavished upon her for a lifetime, and formally take her on as a mistress, right down to having a written agreement drawn up. While trying to keep Leamington at arm's length, she strives to badger Meredith and Jos into preparing for responsibilities that neither are equipped to handle. Angered by the cruelty with which Meredith lashes out in response, Jos finds himself taken with Georgy's compassion, ultimately following through on his flirtatious teasing and declaring his love for her. With the baby girl's arrival, Georgy lavishes her with the affection not forthcoming from the indifferent Meredith or the immature Jos, and ultimately winds up with a surprising plan to ensure the child's welfare.
In accepting a role that her sister Vanessa had passed on, Redgrave rendered a career-making effort, with a charming and sympathetic performance that spoke to those many Plain Janes that felt they had been declared 4F for the Sexual Revolution. The serviceable Mason does what he can with a role that probably read as cheeky back then, but comes off as something less than savory today. Bates brought a font of restless animal energy to the oddly endearing Jos, displayed to it fullest in the signature scene where he chases Georgy through the London streets, threatening to strip until she hears him out. In her film debut, Rampling registered well between her Vogue-cover presence and Meredith's frankly chilling displays of selfishness.
The narrative received a straightforward handling from the Canadian director Silvio Narizzano (Die! Die! My Darling), whose approach here came off as a slightly more serene Richard Lester, and resulted in his most celebrated effort. We'd be remiss if we didn't mention that infectious rendition of the title tune by the Seekers that was so ubiquitous back in the day.
There isn't much room for complaint regarding the clean mastering job that SPHE did with the image, presented in its 1.78:1 theatrical aspect ratio. What's regrettable is the complete dearth of extras, which are limited to a Japanese subtitles option and sundry unrelated trailers.
For more information about Georgy Girl, visit Sony Home Entertainment. To order Georgy Girl, go to TCM Shopping.
by Jay S. Steinberg
Georgy Girl on DVD
Rachel Kempson, 1910-2003
Born on May 28, 1910, in Dartmouth, England, Kempson longed for a career in acting. She trained as an actress at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London and made her professional stage debut in 1932 at the legendary Stratford-on-Avon Theater in the lead of Romeo and Juliet. She went on to perform with such distinguished theatrical companies including the Royal Shakespeare Company, the English Stage Company and the Old Vic. In 1935 she was asked to star in the Liverpool Repertory production of Flowers of the Forest. Her leading man was Michael Redgrave, one of the top actors of his generation. Within a few weeks they fell in love and were married on July 18, 1935.
Kempson took a break for the next few years, to give birth to her three children: Vanessa, Corin and Lynn, but by the mid '40s, she came back to pursue her career in both stage and screen. She began to appear in some films with her husband: Basil Dearden's The Captive Heart (1946); and Lewis Gilbert's tough war drama The Sea Shall Not Have Them (1954). She hit her stride as a character actress in the '60s with a string of good films: Tony Richardson's (at the time her son-in-law) hilarious, award-winning Tom Jones (1963); Silvio Narizzano's classic comedy Georgy Girl (1966) starring her daughter, Lynn; and John Dexter's underrated anti-war film The Virgin Soldiers (1969), again with Lynn. In the '80s Kempson had two strong roles: Lady Manners in the epic British television series The Jewel in the Crown (1984); and as Lady Belfield in Sydney Pollack's hit Out of Africa (1985), starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep.
Kempson had been in semi-retirement after the death of her husband, Sir Michael in 1985. She made her last film appearance in Henry Jaglom's romantic Deja vu (1998) poignantly playing the mother to her real life daughter Vanessa. Kempson is survived by her three children and 10 grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
Rachel Kempson, 1910-2003
Sir Alan Bates (1934-2003)
Born Alan Arthur Bates on February 17th, 1934 in Derbyshire, England, Bates was the son of amateur musicians who wanted their son to become a concert pianist, but the young man had other ambitions, bluntly declaring to his parents that he had his sights set on an acting career when he was still in secondary school. He eventually earned a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, but had his career briefly interrupted with a two-year stint in the Royal Air Force. Soon after his discharge, Bates immediately joined the new English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre and by 1955 he had found steady stage work in London's West End theatre district.
The following year, Bates made a notable mark in English theatre circles when he starred as Cliff Lewis in John Osborne's charging drama about a disaffected, working-class British youth in Look Back in Anger. Bates' enormous stage presence along with his brooding good looks and youthfulness (he was only 22 at the time of the play's run) made him a star and promised great things for his future.
Four years later, Bates made a solid film debut in Tony Richardson's The Entertainer (1960) as the son of a failing seaside entertainer, played by Sir Laurence Olivier. Yet it would be his next two films that would leave an indelible impression in '60s British cinema; Bryan Forbes' Whistle Down the Wind (1961) and John Schlesinger's A Kind of Loving (1962). Bates' performances as a murderer on the lam who finds solace at a farm house in the company of children in the former, and a young working-class husband who struggles with his identity in a loveless marriage in the latter, were such finely nuanced portrayals of loners coping with an oppressive social order that he struck a chord with both audiences and critics alike. Soon, Bates was considered a key actor in the "angry young men" movement of the decade that included Albert Finney and Tom Courtney.
For the next ten years, Bates simply moved from strength to strength as he chose film roles that both highlighted his range and raised his stock as an international celebrity: reprising his stage role as the brutish thug Mick in the film adaptation of Harold Pinter's The Caretaker (1963); starring alongside Anthony Quinn as the impressionable young writer Basil in Zorba the Greek (1964); the raffish charmer Jos who falls in love with Lynn Redgrave in the mod comedy Georgy Girl; the bemused young soldier who falls in love with a young mental patient (a radiantly young Genevieve Bujold) in the subdued anti-was satire King of Hearts (both 1966); reuniting with director Schlesinger again in the effective period drama Far from the Madding Crowd (1967); a Russian Jew falsely accused of murder in John Frankenheimer's The Fixer (1968, remarkably, his only Oscar nomination); as Rupert, the freethinking fellow who craves love and understanding in Ken Russell's superb Women in Love (1969); playing Vershinin in Sir Laurence Olivier's underrated The Three Sisters (1970); opposite Julie Christie in Joseph Losey's tale of forbidden love The Go-Between (1971); and his moving, near-tragic performance as Bri, a father who struggles daily to maintain his sanity while raising a mentally disabled daughter in the snarking black comedy A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1972).
Bates would slow down his film work, concentrating on the stage for the next few years, including a Tony award winning turn on Broadway for his role in Butley (1972), but he reemerged strongly in the late '70s in three good films: a conniving womanizer in The Shout; Jill Clayburgh's love interest in Paul Mazursky's hit An Unmarried Woman (1978); and as Rudge, Bette Midler's overbearing manager in The Rose (1979).
By the '80s, Bates filled out somewhat physically, but his now burly presence looked just right in some quality roles: as the notorious spy, Guy Burgess, in John Schlesinger's acclaimed mini-series An Englishman Abroad (1983); a lonely homosexual who cares for his incarcerated lovers' dog in the charming comedy We think the World of You (1988); and a superb Claudius in Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet (1990).
Tragically, Bates lost his son Tristan to an asthma attack in 1990; and lost his wife, actress Victoria Ward, in 1992. This led to too few film roles for the next several years, although he remained quite active on stage and television. However, just recently, Bates has had some choice moments on the silver screen, most notably as the butler Mr. Jennings in Robert Altman's murder mystery Gosford Park (2001); and scored a great comic coup as a gun-toting, flag-waving Hollywood has-been in a very broad satire about the Canadian movie industry Hollywood North (2003). Also, theatre fans had a treat when Bates appeared on Broadway last year to critical acclaim (and won a second Tony award) for his portrayal of an impoverished 19th century Russian nobleman in Fortune's Fool (2002). Most deservedly, he was knighted earlier this year for his fine contributions as an actor in all major mediums. Sir Alan Bates is survived by two brothers Martin and Jon, son Benedick and a granddaughter.
by Michael T. Toole
Sir Alan Bates (1934-2003)
I'll tell you what this pregnancy's taught me: It's taught me to look like the back end of a bus and sit around every night with nothing to do!- Meredith
Vanessa Redgrave backed out of the role of Georgy just before shooting started. Lynn Redgrave (her sister) picked it up.
Opened in London in October 1966.
Lynn Redgrave voted Best Actress of the Year (tie with Elizabeth Taylor) by the 1966 New York Film Critics Association.
The United Kingdom
Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1966 National Board of Review and the 1966 New York Times Film Critics.
Released in United States 2000
Released in United States Fall November 1966
Released in USA on video.
Released in United States Fall November 1966
Released in United States 2000 (Shown in New York City (Film Forum) as part of program "The British New Wave: From Angry Young Men to Swinging London" October 27 - November 16, 2000.)