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Here's a true story. back in 1996 I worked as a prison Officer. I was just about to leave the coffee-room one afternoon when The Fast Lady came on TV, so I decided to watch it "just for a few minutes". After a short while a co-worker came in and he ended up joining me. Then 2 electricians passed by and also sat down "just for a minute". Then some inmates came in to use the bathroom and also became glued to the screen, etc etc. By the time the movie ended there must've been 20 of us all laughing like idiots, until a furious governor stormed in and wanted to know what the &%$@ was going on. The Fast Lady is THAT funny. It's a classic slapstick farce. Murdoch Troon (Stanley Baxter) is a shy Scotsman from a rigid moralistic background, working in England. He's passionate about cycling until he meets a beautiful girl (played by the gorgeous Julie Christie) and falls in love with her. She's equally attracted to him. Just one problem; her wealthy/disciplinarian father owns a sports car firm, HATES cyclists (especially Troon) and won't let Murdoch take her out until he passes the driving test. Enter Troon's slippery friend, a used car salesman desperate for commission, who promises to teach him to drive if he buys "The Fast Lady", an old sports car he's anxious to get rid of. The casting of this film is near-perfect. No one ever played an autocratic tycoon quite as hilariously as the wonderful James Robertson-Justice, Lesley (ding dong!) Phillips was born to play a used car salesman with an eye for the ladies, Stanley Baxter is the ultimate comedy-Scotsman & Julie Christie? All I can say is, WOW. She was stunning. As in all the best farces this film starts quietly and then gradually moves the pace up and up until the frantic side-splitting finale. You'll have to watch it yourself to see what I mean. let's just say, no one EVER had a driving test quite like Murdoch Troon. The Fast Lady delightfully pokes fun at the British class system and figures of minor authority (traffic cops and driving examiners) and the recurring theme tune is about the most 'catchy' I've ever heard. So, if it's ever on TV again, I'd advise you to watch it. You'll laugh throughout and be left with a nice warm feeling by the end.
I watched this film again recently after being taken to see it as a child many years ago. The plot is fairly basic as with many comedies of its time but the overall impression is of innocent charm. Car and Actor spotters will have plenty of scenes to keep them amused. The final car chase which is of Keystone Cops proportions offers a 'spot the star' sequence, topped by Fred Emney's two lines of 'Odd!' and 'Bloody odd!' The film also recalls the days when a 1920s Bentley could be bought for the price of a new Mini...unlike today. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the film again and was surprised by the amount of detail I remembered. Just one last point, I'm sure the suburban housing estate featured is the same one as was used in several Carry On films, notably Carry On Camping.
Whenever I think about this film I think of that other car film
If you enjoyed 'Genevieve' you will enjoy this film and vice versa. Both
movies contain vintage cars which are important to the plot. The cars and
their drivers get into all kinds of trouble, both films are charming
comedies and they make me wish I owned a vintage car. The similarities end
there. The plots are very different.
The title of the film 'The Fast Lady', refers to the name given to the vintage Bentleigh. The film is about the car, its owner, the girl he wants to date, and her father who won't let our hero take his daughter out unless he passes his driving test.
Stanley Baxter, is perfect for the role of Murdoch, the learner driver who wants to impress with his car and driving skills. Leslie Phillips, is hilarious as Murdoch's buddy who helps him with his driving and gives him romance tips. James Robertson Justice, really enjoys making life difficult for Murdoch, by insulting and challenging his driving skills. Julie Christie, is pretty and charming as Claire.
This is a fun movie to watch that will leave you in good spirits. A good movie for a rainy day or a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Hope to see it released on video soon.
Love this film, mainly for the great classic cars seen throughout. I remember when i was a child there was a zoo local to me in Wellingborough and they had a juke box in the cafe which had the ability to show accompanying films to the music choice selected, this was in the early 60's one of the tunes was "the chase from The Fast Lady" and the film with it was the chase from the film. great fun for a ten year old boy to see at a shilling a time. I now have this on DVD and have been goof spotting. Early on in the film outside Kathleen Harrrisons house is a young lady sitting in a large white yank tank, when Leslie Phillips is seen leaving the house and talking to his landlady the car is missing, and then it reappears again moments later. Second goof i saw is with Julie Christies mini cooper, as she is seen driving up to Murdochs house the car has a lovely woodrim steering wheel, then when she gets into the car afterwards it has a standard plastic steering wheel. I'm still looking for more.... Snowy Ps it's a pleasure to report that the lovely Fast Lady Bentley is still registered and presumably still thunders along leafy English country roads and byeways frightening old ladys and irritating policemen.
Real comedy is comedy that depends on visual and audio presentation without having to be reinforced by swearing or bad behaviour that is so prevalent in a number of films and TV programmes today. In fact the only reason these two elements are used is that the script is not particularly funny in the first place. The Fast Lady is an amalgamation of scenes joined to make an extremely amusing storyline with the best of British comedians, many making only brief appearances. The main characters are Leslie Phillips as the smarmy used car salesman, Julie Christie who is absolutely gorgeous, James Robertson Justice as her overbearing father and Stanley Baxter who is out to woo young Julie. Easily the best real comedy that has lasted the test of time.
Honestly the Fast Lady is a transition film - shades of 50s comedies
like School For Scoundrels or the Doctor films, and shades of 60 with
touches of Carry On.
For my money this falls uncomfortably between the two stools - what should be a major hit with a great cast drag awfully in places - though the comedy is not bad it's just not at its best. A little crude perhaps? All in all, great to watch if there's nothing else on a Saturday afternoon but a long way from being my favourite - and I normally love anything with James Robertson Justice in it - curmudgeon at its best.
The script can't decide whether it's New Britain 60s cool or a flashback to the 50s, but it has it moments. Stanley Baxter is the Scottish Norman Wisdom and if that's your cup of tea you'll love it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Murdoch Troon ( Stanley Baxter ), a shy young Scotsman living in
England, is knocked off his bike by pompous motorist Charles Chingford
( James Robertson Justice ), who hates both cyclists and Scotsmen.
Troon tracks him down through his licence plate number, and turns up at the Chingford home demanding compensation. It is here that he meets and falls for Chingford's lovely daughter Claire ( Julie Christie ). She in turn is attracted to him, nicknaming him 'Wee Willie Walked'.
Desperate to impress her enough to get her to go on a date, Murdoch decides to learn how to drive. His friend and fellow boarder, car salesman Freddy Fox ( Leslie Phillips ) helps him out, but is concealing an ulterior motive. Not having sold a motor car lately, Fox is told by his boss ( Dick Emery ) that he may be sacked unless things change. Fox persuades Murdoch to buy a vintage green Bentley called 'The Fast Lady'. Then his troubles really begin...
This was the second of four 1960's British comedy films featuring Stanley Baxter, James Robertson Justice, and Leslie Phillips. The others were 'Very Important Person' ( 1961 ), 'Crooks Anonymous' ( 1962 ) and 'Father Came Too' ( 1963 ). With the exception of the latter, all were directed by Ken Annakin, who later made 'Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines'.
Baxter plays a naive young man, as he would later do in 'Father Came Too'. He was very good at playing these characters, but is best remembered for those superb L.W.T. shows in which he played dozens. Robertson Justice's 'Charles Chingford' is virtually identical to 'Sir Lancelot Spratt' from the 'Doctor' films. Leslie Phillips is, of course, the debonair lounge-lizard we all know and love. He does not say 'ding dong!' here, but you expect him too.
Julie Christie was a mere three years away from winning a Best Actress Oscar for her performance as model 'Diana Scott' in 'Darling' ( 1965 ). Even here you could tell that she was not just another pretty face. Her scenes with Baxter are charming.
Plenty of car stunts to be found in this film. These sequences were directed by Don Sharp, who later directed the flying scenes for 'Those Magnificent Men'. 'The Fast Lady' itself looks like John Steed's car from 'The Avengers' television series. Maybe it was. The producer - Julian Wintle - was responsible for both.
And what a supporting cast! Eric Barker, Deryck Guyler, Dick Emery, Kathleen Harrison, Allan Cuthbertson, Ann Beach, with cameos from Frankie Howerd, Bernard Cribbins, Fred Emney, and Clive Dunn. Motor racing legend Graham Hill is in one of Troon's day-dreams.
The script was by Jack Davies and Henry Blyth, the writing team behind several Norman Wisdom comedies.
Funniest moment - Troon learning to drive 'The Fast Lady'. Just before he reverses into a disused aircraft hangar, Freddy calls out: "Pretend you are reversing into your own garage!". Murdoch winds up smashing through the back wall. "Just as well you haven't got a garage!", says Freddy, sadly.
Perfect Sunday afternoon entertainment.
A blast form the past, one of those innocent films enjoyed so much for its innocence and charm of the early 1960's, an hour and a half of sheer escapeism. The cast members warm to their roles and and give added charm to the film. And, as for the car, i'd give it a good home any day !!
As a child of about 8 I had a mania for cars. This was back in the late
70s, when there were still a lot of cars from the 50s and 60s on the
roads. I remember this film came on the telly one afternoon and I was
absolutely hooked, loads of great cars...and it was really funny too!
The film is a bit patchy (the daydream near the start is a bit overdone) but overall it's a real cracker of a film, you definitely come away from it with a big smile on your face. It's also a real 'spot the actor' film.
Personally I love seeing all the bygone street scenery (the black and white striped signposts, the North Thames Gas Board shop with all the old fridges in the window, etc) and the great old British cars. I now live in the States and seeing this film makes me pine for the Old Country a bit!
The film's now out on DVD, well worth another look.
Murdoch Troon is a young Scottish civil servant living somewhere in the
south of England. (Probably Surrey, to judge from references to
Guildford and Frensham in the script). Murdoch has fallen in love with
Claire Chingford, the beautiful blonde daughter of a wealthy
businessman. To impress Claire, who has told him that she is a sports-
car enthusiast, Murdoch buys a vintage 1927 Bentley racing car. (The
"Fast Lady" of the title is the name of the car. It is not a comment on
Claire's morals). This leaves Murdoch with two problems. First, he
cannot drive and needs to learn and pass his test within a week before
his first date with Claire. Second, he must win over her autocratic and
domineering old father who has taken a dislike to the young man.
The film is a mixture of romantic comedy and slapstick comedy and works better as the latter than as the former. The problem lies with the personality of Murdoch as played by Stanley Baxter (a popular comedian in Britain at this period). Baxter, himself a Scot, seems to be playing up to the common English stereotype of the Scotsman as dour, truculent and with a permanent chip on his shoulder. (Although Murdoch has chosen to live in England, he is forever complaining about the English). As a result, he comes across as too unsympathetic to be a very credible romantic hero; I wondered just what Claire saw in him and found it all too easy to understand why Commander Chingford disliked him so much.
On the other hand, Baxter's personality seemed just right for the slapstick elements in the film, chiefly the driving sequences, as these are all based around the idea that Murdoch, despite (or possibly because of) his inexperience becomes an aggressive maniac whenever he gets behind the wheel of a car. His lessons, his excursions with Chingford (an experienced driver) and his driving test all prove disastrous, and I must admit that these parts of the film were quite amusing.
There are good supporting performances from James Robertson Justice as Chingford and Leslie Phillips as Murdoch's friend Freddie Fox, a used car salesman. (It is Fox who sells him The Fast Lady). These two actors mostly appeared in comedy with a fairly limited range; Justice specialised in playing imperious, portly, middle-aged members of the English upper or upper-middle classes. (He is perhaps best remembered as the surgeon Sir Lancelot Spratt in the "Doctor" comedies). Phillips, although he was not particularly handsome, specialised in playing smoothly lecherous seducers, often dressed in blazer and slacks and affecting a pseudo-posh accent. Both men are cast very much according to type here; Chingford is a typical Justice character, and Fox, generally dressed in blazer and slacks, appears with a different girl on his arm in virtually every scene. The lovely Julie Christie does not have a lot to do, but then she is a sort of human McGuffin, the reason why Murdoch is putting himself through so many trials and tribulations rather than a character in her own right. (This was only Christie's second film; her first "Crooks Anonymous" was also directed by Ken Annakin and also starred Baxter, Justice and Phillips).
One thing which does not ring true is that Murdoch is living in "digs" with a landlady and yet is able to buy The Fast Lady in cash for £500, several months' wages for the average earner in 1962, without needing to take out a loan or obtain hire-purchase terms. Anyone with that amount of ready cash at this period would have been able to rent a decent flat or put a deposit down on a house.
The film appears to have been a box-office success when first released, but today it looks rather dated. For some, of course, this will be part of its charm as it offers us a nostalgic look at the Britain of more than fifty years ago. To the modern viewer the other cars featured here, such as an Austin A40, look even more old-fashioned than The Fast Lady (only 35 years old at the time) would have done in 1962. The film's main weakness is its inability to combine its romantic and comic elements into a unified whole, but I suspect that the "Top Gear"-watching classes will love it in spite of this. 6/10
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