Cast & Crew
Young Kate Brady leaves her father's farm in Ireland's County Clare to work in a Dublin grocery and share an apartment with Baba, a girl with whom she attended a convent school. She meets Eugene Gaillard, a writer considerably older than herself, whose wife has left him; and she is strongly attracted to him. She pursues him, and despite his reservations, he is enchanted by her. Kate goes to live with Eugene at his country house, but her conscience prevents her from having sex with him. Word of the situation reaches her father, and he forces her to return home. After being reproached by the local priest, Kate runs away back to Eugene, only to be followed by her father and a crowd of his drunken cronies, who storm the Gaillard house. They leave when Eugene and his housekeeper, who appears brandishing an ancient shotgun, threaten them. Kate's emotions finally win out over her scruples, and she surrenders to Eugene. Their relationship is uneasy because they have nothing in common but their love. Jealous of and feeling inferior to Eugene's clever friends, Kate becomes possessive. Eugene in turn becomes restless and sarcastic. They quarrel, and Kate rejoins Baba, who is leaving for London. Kate expects Eugene to follow her, but when he doesn't, she realizes that he will soon be merely a girlhood memory.
T. P. Mckenna
Girl With Green Eyes
The storyline of Girl with Green Eyes was simple: a shop-girl in Dublin falls in love with an older man who is separated from his wife. Rather than make it in the style of a glossy Hollywood romantic drama, Davis, like Richardson, preferred to take a realistic approach. Part of that approach was to cast Rita Tushingham, who at 21 was one of the rising stars of the British New Wave. Tushingham's looks were not cookie-cutter Hollywood "pretty", but she had the ability, as Bosley Crowther wrote in his August 11, 1964 review of the film, to capitalize "on her odd and wistful looks." Davis knew she'd be right for the part, "Rita Tushingham as the young girl we had always thought of from the very beginning, but we were having trouble thinking of an actor in his forties with the right charisma for the man. From the start I wanted Peter to do it but I was a tiny bit shy of approaching him because the film might be thought of as a 'woman's picture', if you want to use that sort of tired expression. Eventually, however, we did send off a script to him and he was delighted with it. So we met. Talked. He agreed. And there we were."
As Tushingham's roommate who is her opposite in every way, Davis cast Lynn Redgrave. At that time Redgrave was struggling with her weight (she would famously promote Weight Watchers two decades later). In her autobiography, This is Living, she noted, "For as long as a part required me to be thin I could find the necessary discipline to keep the weight off, but a great many of the roles I played in my early years were best played at my chubbier weight. Tony Richardson found me a small part in his hit film Tom Jones, my first film by the way, and in it I played a generously built barmaid who flees from Albert Finney shrieking "Rape! Rape!" Baba in Girl with Green Eyes (with Peter Finch and Rita Tushingham) came next, and again, I was expected to be well covered. Like the chicken and egg theory, I don't know whether I was chubby to fit the part, or if the part was chubby to fit me. I do know that I was constantly trying to get casting directors to think of me as thin and attractive, and to this end, when I was out looking for work, I would make every attempt to lose the weight I'd kept for my last role."
Davis had two weeks of rehearsals with Finch and Tushingham before production started in Dublin, Ireland. During that time, Davis found that Finch was "very quick to find a line that wasn't true to the character and say, 'Well, can I perhaps say it this way? ' And something else that I realized in rehearsals that surprised me was that you would have expected Rita to be nervous of Peter, but in fact it was the other way around! She was at the height of her career, the Princess of the New Wave, she was so very much in fashion and it was if he were wondering, 'Am I doing this right? Is this the way they do it now?' But as soon as he and Rita started getting along, which they did very quickly because they are both natural clowns, the nervousness vanished. Whatever he did from then on he did whole-heartedly. There was nothing after that in his character that I saw that was in the least hesitant."
True to his reputation as a Hell-raiser, Finch made the round of the bars after work. Said Davis, "He had a car and a driver and the driver complained after about a week that because of Peter he was never getting home at all, and in the end we had to have two drivers for his car; one for the day and one for the night. God knows where Peter went around Dublin all night and God knows what he did but he was never late for his seven o'clock morning call, and he always knew his lines, absolutely. I think the answer is he had a completely photographic memory and could just look at a page and fairly well know it. [...] We all got quite used to the Jekyll and Hyde type thing. One minute he would be all smiling and joking with everybody and the next his lower lip would come out and he would be abruptly changed. Sometimes, even in the middle of a sentence or in the middle of a word, he would turn on someone and attack them, going unerringly for their weak spot. I remember one night he said to me, 'Listen, I could really f*ck you up on that set, man. You wouldn't know what I was doing but I could really f*ck you up.' This was my first film so he was hitting below the belt. I watched him like a hawk on the set after that but he never followed through with these threats. I don't think he even remembered them."
Girl with Green Eyes earned Tushingham high praise from the critics, including Bosley Crowther of The New York Times, "She is giving a performance that would win her an Academy Award and that also redounds to the credit of several others connected with the making of the film. For Girl with Green Eyes is another of those remarkably fresh and natural films that have come from the Woodfall organization, which was sparked by protean Tony Richardson and which has given us such a dazzling range of pictures as A Taste of Honey, Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner and Tom Jones. While it is not as ambitious or extensive as any one of those, it is a wonderfully tender, touching and humorous little drama of a lonely Irish girl."
Producer: Oscar Lewenstein
Director: Desmond Davis
Screenplay: Edna O'Brien
Cinematography: Manny Wynn
Art Direction: Ted Marshall
Music: John Addison
Film Editing: Brian Smedley-Aston, Antony Gibbs (uncredited)
Cast: Peter Finch (Eugene Gaillard), Rita Tushingham (Kate Brady), Lynn Redgrave (Baba Brennan), Maire Kean (Josie Hannigan), Arthur O'Sullivan (James Brady).
BW-91m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Lorraine LoBianco
This is Living: How I Found Health and Happiness by Lynn Redgrave
Finch, Bloody Finch by Elaine Dundy
The Internet Movie Database
The New York Times Film Review by Bosley Crowther, August 11, 1964.
Girl With Green Eyes
Filmed on location in and around Dublin; working title: Once Upon a Summer. Opened in London in May 1964.
Voted Best Director and One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1964 National Board of Review.
Released in United States 1964
Released in United States 2000
Released in United States 1964
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.)