Georgy Girl (1966, Lynn Redgrave, Alan Bates)

Georgy Girl

Entertaining, archetypal swinging ’60s British comedy starring Lynn Redgrave as Georgy, a podgy, gawky, kind-hearted virgin who shares a flat with the hard and promiscuous Meredith (Charlotte Rampling). On a visit to her parents (Bill Owen and Clare Kelly), who work for the wealthy James Leamington (James Mason) and his invalid wife, Georgy is formally asked to become Leamington’s mistress, complete with legal contract, but she refuses.

Meredith then announces she is pregnant for the third time and marries her lover Jos (Alan Bates) who then moves in with the two girls, with Georgy as general household dogsbody. When the baby is born, Meredith flatly rejects it and Georgy takes over its care, having fallen in love with Jos herself. But her new surrogate motherhood leads Georgy to neglect Jos, and then, in true fairy tale manner, the now widowed Leamington proposes marriage.

If the somewhat frenetic tale of illicit love, abortions, unwanted pregnancies and bed-hopping now seems more of a period piece than a sharp social comment on London mores in the ’60s, Redgrave’s superb, Academy Award-nominated performance is still marvellous to watch, robbing the film of its inherent shallowness and largely defusing the essential amorality of the subject. The other key performances were first rate, headed by Bates who made the most of his high-spirited, feckless character and Rampling is excellent as the attractive and bitchy girl for whom sexual freedom is a way of life.

Georgy Girl

The film was also a major success for Canadian-born director Silvio Narizzano, and his handling of the actors and subject in Georgy Girl remains a text-book example of British swinging ’60s film-making, with its rapid cutting, frozen frames, slow motion sequences and the effective use of London locations.

UK / 1966

Director: Silvio Narizzano
Writers: Margaret Forster, Peter Nichols, based on Forster’s novel

Cast: Lynn Redgrave, Alan Bates, James Mason, Charlotte Rampling, Bill Owen, Clare Kelly, Denise Coffey, Rachel Kempson