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Before there was an “Ugly Betty”, there was “Georgy Girl” (1966). The film lights down in London town during those mad 1960s with the crazy new sounds coming out of bands like “The Seekers” and the even crazier new hairdos and mini skirts. We see Georgy girl (Lynn Redgrave) awkwardly sporting one of the new “dos” as the opening credits roll over top of the chart topping number by the Australian band. (I was surprised to learn that they weren’t a part of the British invasion.) The film is a lot like the title song in that it is a lighthearted romp with surprisingly serious undertones for those who are really listening.
The story line is a bit mixed up, much like Georgy herself. Georgy’s beautiful and free-spirited roommate, Meredith, leaves behind a boyfried and a baby as she gets on with her life after an ever so brief encounter with her own non-maternal nature. Georgy tries to pick up the pieces. After all, there is an adorable, helpless child involved. The make-shift domestic arrangements with Jos, the baby’s father, soon fall apart. A cast-off boyfriend doesn’t really fit any better than the ridiculous coiffure that Georgy tries on in the film’s introduction. In true improvisational style that fits the times and Georgy’s quirky personality, she tries on a completely different set of circumstances by accepting her family’s employer as stand-in dad. James Leamington (played by James Mason) is supposedly Georgy’s better in social standing - although one wonders if he isn’t actually her “worser” after he offers her an albeit “very proper” and attractive contractual arrangement for Georgy to be his mistress. Georgy passes up the offer. She’d like to think she can do better. She changes her mind (like a girl changes clothes) when the offer firms up a bit more and becomes a proposal of marriage after Leamington’s wife conveniently takes herself out of the way by dying.
In the end, it is a marriage of convenience that Georgy chooses as her best fit in the era of the sexual revolution. It is perhaps the best option afforded to someone like Georgy “who just missed being beautiful”. One wonders how well this arrangement is going to work out over time, as we watch the closing scene where the new bride repeatedly caresses her adopted infant. She seems oblivious to the groom sitting next to her in the get away car. It may well end up as just another failed experiment to be washed away down the drain along with the hair pins and mascara of Georgy’s “new look” in the opening scene.
Georgy’s pick of the best offer out of a limited range of options appears to be missing something: unconditional commitment and acceptance of people for who they really are. It’s what Georgy really wants; it’s what all of us want in the end –free love.
Don’t miss the SNAM Interviews on the subject of “Beauty -and Other Myths”. The Interviews deal extensively with another movie with a parallel theme shown in conjunction with “Georgy Girl” The second feature was “Dogfight”.
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See the TVO video trailer for "Georgy Girl" (1966)
“Shine”(1996) IMDb tells the story of Australian pianist, David Helfgott, a man whose artistic talents and fragile mental state are negatively impacted by the post-war trauma of his troubled father. Helfgott makes an unlikely comeback after a dramatic mental breakdown and institutionalization. Geoffrey Rush (adult) and Noah Taylor (adolescent) both won critical acclaim for their portrayal of Helfgott’s character. While the issue of whether “Shine” tells the “entirely true” story of the child prodigy gone wrong may be debatable, what is clear is that this film certainly is a good story worth listening to in its empathetic treatment of the individual and the artist.
The film “Shine”(1996) was presented in the context of TVOntario’s “Brain Week – From Brilliant to Broken” . Be sure to catch the SNAM Interviews for “Shine” called “Art and Madness”, a most interesting examination of the relationship of mental illness and artistic genius as depicted in film.
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See the video trailer for “Shine”(1996)