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A number of writers worked on the script, which was constantly being rewritten during the making of the film. When the TV presenter Robert Robinson agreed to play himself in a brief cameo, he told Ken Russell he would have to write his own lines as he wasn't an actor. Russell agreed and added that he could also rewrite everyone else's lines if he felt like it. See more »
It's disappointing that this film is so little known, even among 60s British film buffs. (I was surprised that Robert Murphy was so dismissive of it.) I set my VCR to record this one (it was on at some ungodly hour in the middle of the night), and watched it the next evening. It was only on re-watching it that I realized that it was directed by Ken Russell, and this surprised me, since it didn't really strike me as his style at all.
I can't understand why one of your reviewers disliked it so much that they had to post two condemnations of it. I found it utterly charming. The comical Mayor, his strange Council, their French counterparts and the bath-chair oldies are just the background against which Jim and Judy's faltering romance plays itself out. I loved the bit where Judy roller-skates in slow motion at the fancy-dress party, and I love the way this is cleverly reprised (with lovely music) towards the end of the film, when Jim realizes his mistake in neglecting Judy and pursuing the sexy but flighty Francoise Fayol.
It's a comedy, but there are some very poignant moments in it. (The scene in the boat underneath the pier, for example.) There are some funny lines, as well (it's not all slapstick), and it's amazing how much incident Ken Russell manages to pack in, considering that this isn't a very long film. I'd love to have the music on CD, as well!
Like a lot of films of the early and mid 60's (I'm thinking of films like Darling, Georgy Girl and Alfie), French Dressing has quite an old fashioned moral in tow. Men lust after girls like Francoise Fayol, but they settle down with girls like Judy (if they're lucky, because she's got brains as well as being cute).
Jim isn't always very PC (well, I suppose it was forty years ago!), but it's obvious that he really loves Judy at the end. It's also quite touching how good a friend Henry (played by Roy Kinnear) is to both Jim and Judy.
I liked this film a lot, and I'd like to see it on the big screen. The next time they have a Russell retrospective, I hope they show it!
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