“I simply don’t see what’s so wonderful about getting into a fifty year old car and driving to Brighton and back.”
A London couple (John Gregson and Dinah Sheridan) driving their 1904 car “Genevieve” in an annual trip to Brighton Beach quickly find themselves in an increasingly tension-filled race with their friend (Kenneth More) and his guest Rosalind (Kay Kendall).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Car Racing
- Marital Problems
- Road Trip
Referred to by TCM as “one of the most beloved British comedies of all time”, this surprisingly enjoyable road-trip adventure is filled with humor, tension, joy, and plenty of exciting plot twists. Indeed, the entire script leaves us wondering what will happen next to our protagonists — not just in terms of their romantic relationships, but the lengths to which Gregson and More will go in their increasingly driven competitive frenzy. Sheridan is highly sympathetic, and the cinematography and location shooting are gorgeous, making this a pleasant vicarious trip to take despite the many hair-raising automotive challenges faced along the way.
Note: A highly memorable moment — featured in the film’s poster and the still below — demonstrates Kendall’s surprising trumpet skills, in a scene which is now “an icon of British comedy.”
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Fine performances by the leads
- Excellent use of outdoor shooting locales
- Sparkling Technicolor cinematography
- William Rose’s script
- Larry Adler’s harmonica-driven score
Yes, as an enjoyable “good show”. Listed as a film with Historical Importance and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.
One thought on “Genevieve (1953)”
I’ll admit to being much-less-enamored of this flick. For what it is, it seems to play smoothly and innocuously enough for its first half (and, yes, Kendall’s sudden trumpet solo is a highlight). However, midway, the script enters a tiresome section involving jealousy (never a personal- favorite element) – and, from there, we are left with a series of competitive stops-and-starts that begins to reflect creative desperation.
There’s no denying that writer Rose went on to higher heights – with at least three high-profile, mid-career classics to his credit: ‘The Ladykillers’, ‘It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World’ (co-written with his wife Tania – who is referenced on an invitation card in ‘Genevieve’), and ‘The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming’. But ‘Genevieve’ doesn’t quite compare favorably.
Odd sidebar note about (the American) Rose at IMDb: “Although best known as a writer of comedies, he was a very highly-strung person and extremely volatile, with a history of nervous breakdown.”