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I spent a lovely girly evening with ms_siobhan last night. First, we went to Jino's for delicious Thai food and a good natter, and then we proceeded to the Cottage Road cinema for the latest in their series of classic film evenings.

As usual, we started with some pre-film vintage goodies. The Cottage must have bought in a job lot of Rowntree's chocolate adverts, as they were pretty high in the mix. We were tempted by the likes of Black Magic, Kitkat, Matchmakers and Smarties - and I'm afraid I shattered ms_siobhan's childhood illusions by informing her that the latter no longer come in cylindrical packets topped by a brightly-coloured plastic cap with a letter of the alphabet on it. We also saw an advert for Nimble, one of the world's first really successful diet foods - in this case, a bread whose lightness was demonstrated by a lady floating off in a hot-air balloon.

Best of all, though, was a late '60s advert for an Italian sparkling wine called Gancia. When the in-laws come round, the advert advised us, "Try to afford Gancia!". Apparently, it cost £1/6/3 at the time, which judging by this inflation converter means it would now cost about £18.00 (depending on exactly when in the late '60s the advert was made). Can we afford that, people? We'll try our best, anyway.

To round things off, we then had a Pathé news reel, featuring a youthful Prince Philip on a visit to Hollywood. He seemed not to be doing anything too embarrassing, but ms_siobhan did wince when we saw him being given a commemorative Wesson rifle! Luckily, no-one seemed to have lost any limbs as a result.

I didn't think I'd seen the film itself before, but it turned out I had seen at least the first part on TV. I was just confused by the fact that it is in colour - still pretty unusual in 1953, and the reason I'd assumed that the film which I remembered couldn't have been the same one. The producers were clearly making the most of the opportunities offered, too, as we were treated to lots of brightly-coloured clothes, make-up and indeed one bright yellow vintage car. It is well worth watching for those aspects alone, actually - although ms_siobhan and I differed as to whether we preferred Dinah Sheridan's large circle skirts (me) or Kay Kendall's pencil-skirted suits (her).

The main plot concerns two couples participating in the annual London-Brighton vintage car rally. One pair are a respectable married couple, and the other a loveable rake and his latest beau, with much of the plot concerned with playing their rather different lifestyles off against one another. Each couple has its own tensions, but they also end up sucked into a greater rivalry - the urge to beat the other couple in a race back from Brighton to London. Cue all sorts of adventures and scrapes (some of them rather literal) as they run their ancient and eccentric cars as hard as they can manage, getting into trouble with the police, herds of sheep and angry fellow-drivers along the way.

ms_siobhan and I were quite surprised to find pre-marital sex being referenced at one point, when the husband from the married couple began getting all jealous about the prospect that his wife might have been 'involved' with the loveable rake before they were married, and she retorted that surely he wouldn't have wanted to marry a woman with absolutely no experience! But it was also made fairly clear that she was really just trying to wind him up to serve him right for being jealous, though, so perhaps that was enough to make the reference acceptable. Other than that, though, the main tone was light-hearted comedy, revolving around slapstick antics with the cars, the ladies' exasperation with their male companions' car geekery, and the perils of the Worst Hotel in Brighton - run by a fantastically prim and pernickety Joyce Grenfell.

Touching, funny and replete with 1950s goodness, you can hardly go wrong with this film. Definitely another winner from the Cottage.

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( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 9th, 2011 08:53 pm (UTC)
the latter no longer come in cylindrical packets topped by a brightly-coloured plastic cap with a letter of the alphabet on it.

This is just one of the things that proves that we wound up in The Wrong Future. No jetpacks, no robot housekeepers, no cures for this disease, and no more smarties in the proper tubes. I'd nearly managed to collect one of each letter of the alphabet, too.
Jun. 9th, 2011 09:10 pm (UTC)
Ah, that would explain it. I wonder where we took the wrong turn? Still, I'm sure there is a flourishing trade in Smartie tube tops on eBay even now. I presume that the ultimate goal is not just to collect a full alphabet, but to have one in every possible available colour. You can bet there are people out there who've done it.
Jun. 9th, 2011 09:10 pm (UTC)
The *other* best bit about Genevieve: the Larry Adler harmonica score.
Jun. 9th, 2011 09:19 pm (UTC)
Yes, very true! I'm a bit rubbish at remembering the music when I think back to films or TV programmes I've seen, but now that you come to mention it I did enjoy the soundtrack at the time.
Jun. 9th, 2011 09:50 pm (UTC)
It was a lovely evening - thank you :-)

It was such a charming film which until last night I'd only seen bits of as opposed to all the way through in one go. I especially enjoyed Rosalind drinking champagne with such abandon, her marvellous trumpet playing, her gorgeous clothes and her striking red nails and lipstick and the married couples lovely kitchen.

I am however still gutted about smarties. We're in the end of days I tell you ;-)
Jun. 10th, 2011 11:17 am (UTC)
Yes, Rosalind was generally pretty awesome. But circle skirts still win! ;-)
Jun. 10th, 2011 12:09 am (UTC)
Genevieve is surely the archetype for the British road movie, if such a thing be said to exist. Lots of location filming too - though the scenes between London and Brighton are all around outer west London, the dual carriageway A413 near Gerrards Cross (which also impersonated the A1 Barnet By-Pass in Doctor Who) playing the A23 at one stage.
Jun. 10th, 2011 11:18 am (UTC)
There's a page here with various 'then and now' pictures of the filming locations. I always love to see footage of London streets in this kind of era - busy by any absolute standard, but so quiet compared to today!
Jun. 10th, 2011 05:45 am (UTC)
To be fair to Prince Philip, he had a successful naval career, and is definitely experienced in handling firearms.
Jun. 10th, 2011 11:20 am (UTC)
Oh,it wasn't so much his technical competence we were worried about - more what would happen if he decided to start letting off a few pot-shots for the fun of it!
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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