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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Miss Petula Clark - known as "Radio's Merry Mimic" - was talented enough to have followed a similar career path to the infinitely more famous Miss Julie Andrews,but fate was to steer her to the Variety Stage rather than the Movie Studios where for years she made a good living as a singer accompanied by Mr Joe Henderson who plays her pianist in this movie.She was attractive,intelligent and sparky,had a number of Top Ten Hits and is still performing to much acclaim today. In "The Gay Dog" she plays an attractive,intelligent and sparky young Northern girl,daughter of Mr Wilfred Pickles and Miss Megs Jenkins (Mr and Mrs Gay). Mr Pickles,gifted and versatile, was a great star in his day but is virtually forgotten now.If you want to be reminded of how good an actor he was,seek out a copy of "Billy Liar",where,for me,he gives the most honest and "real" performance in the movie as Billy Fisher's father. "The Gay Dog" pre-dates the "Whippet and Woodbine"era of British films where Northern Working Class life was shown to be pretty brutish and it was all the fault of us Southern Softies.Mr Pickles doesn't spend his time throwing up behind the sofa or spitting his lungs up at 't' match. He has a perfectly comfortable home life with a loving family - a man to be envied.In those times perhaps not such an exceptional occurrence. He owns a greyhound - the Gay dog of the title - and keeps him at home - a source of concern to his wife.With food and vet's bills to be paid he needs the dog to be winning races........... Shot in peerless black and white on the proudly maintained Council Estates of the early 1950s,"The Gay Dog" is not the work of some guilt-ridden Oxbridge director,rather it is a lovingly - made low budget film made by pros without chips on their shoulders,not showing solidarity with some mythical oppressed working class waiting patiently to be patronised over the claret in a nice house in Kensington. This was how people were in the North of England in 1954,not violent embittered wasters but ordinary,honest hard - working,humorous and friendly.Just like us Southern Softies,really,but Northern.....if you know what I mean. It is a lovely movie,warm,funny and true.It's currently viewable online at "Movies 4 Men" along with a lot of other unregarded stuff from the golden years of British Cinema.
This film stars Wilfred Pickles who was famous on the radio for his programme "Have A Go".This film about greyhound racing is only of marginal interest.However of more interest are the many familiar faces who pepper the cast list.There is Petula Clarke,still a Rank starlet.Peter Butterworth in this early association with Peter Rogers before the days of the Carry Ons and Jon Pertwee before the days of Wurzel Gummidge.Many of the rest of the cast such as Megs Jenkins and Harold Goodwin are familiar from TV and small parts in films.The best thing that can be said about this film is don't expect too much and you wont be disappointed.
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