Bill Forsyth directed the most idiosyncratic and arguably the most innovative British (for which read Scottish) films of the 1980s: That Sinking Feeling ; Comfort and Joy ; Local Hero ; and his big breakthrough in 1981 Gregory’s Girl. Largely using youth theatre actors – Chic Murray the only ‘name’ in the film - Forsyth’s simple script explores with huge charm the gawkiness of teenage awakening, and the inevitable power of girls – more mature and just more intelligent – over their male contemporaries.
John Gordon Sinclair epitomises the awkwardness of the schoolboy, his lanky frame all knees and elbows; Dee Hepburn’s curves and footballing skill grab his attention, but the pixyish Clare Grogan is the one that fancies him so she is the one who ends up dating him: Sinclair and Grogan’s scene dancing while lying down in the park is a perfect cinema moment. Forsyth has a trademark of using recurring comic elements of no plot relevance, in this film someone in a penguin suit being directed around the school by all and sundry.
Few of the actors have risen to subsequent fame, but you wonder why: Allison Forster as Gregory’s 10-year-old sister is just brilliant; and Robert Buchanan as Andy shows great comic timing.
Forsyth later in Hollywood produced nothing as good as his Scottish films; he obviously had a connection with places like Cumbernauld where Gregory’s Girl was filmed, and a love of his homeland, its ordinary people and their language, that comes through every frame of that movie and his other 80s hits.
Current top 10
3: The Railway Children
4: The Italian Job
5: Life of Brian
7: The Third Man
8: The 39 Steps
9: The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover
10: Local Hero
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