UK / 1955
Director: Frank Launder
Writer: Sidney Gilliat, Frank Launder (based on novel by David Walker)
Cast: Bill Travers, Alastair Sim, Norah Gorsen, Molly Urquhart, Francis de Wolff, Jack Radcliffe
When Frank Launder decided to film David Walker’s novel about a Scottish muscleman, he spent three years trying to find a suitable young actor. His search led him to conclude that “Scotsmen are either sandy little men or thin and cadaverous,” which presumably put paid to any ideas of retiring north of the border. Instead, his intensive search led him to Newcastle-born actor Bill Travers to play the part of the Highland heavy, Geordie.
Set in “the past, the present and a wee bit in the future”, Geordie depicts the progress of a young Scottish boy from little weakling (played by Paul Young) into a strapping champion hammer thrower (Travers). Geordie is so good, in fact, that he’s selected to throw the hammer for Britain at the Olympic Games in Australia.
At first he’s reluctant to leave Scotland – he works as gamekeeper to the Laird (Alastair Sim) and has a girlfriend, Jean (Norah Gorsen) – but eventually he sets sail for Oz. His homesickness is alleviated by the attentions of a Danish shot-putter, Helga (Doris Goddard), but will his performance in the hammer suffer from this Highland fling?
Regular Launder and Gilliat collaborator Alastair Sim again excels here (he also starred in several of the duo’s St Trinians comedies) as the Highlands landowner, but the real acting kudos went to relative newcomer Travers (best known for later appearances in Born Free and Ring of Bright Water).