Director: Henry Cornelius
Writer: William Rose
Music: Larry Adler
Cinematography: Christopher Challis
An Ealing Studio comedy in 1953, about a annual vintage car rally from London to Brighton and back in two days on a sunny weekend, which is the most exciting activity for lawyer Alan(Gregson) and his best friend Ambrose (More), but for ladies, Alan’s wife Wendy (Sheridan) and Ambrose’s new date Rosalind (Kendall), they are less psyched, a gesture of support means they cannot renege their full participation.
Genevieve, a 1904 Darracq, is Alan’s beloved treasure, doesn’t function too well en route, slapstick antics and lively squabbles are befitting companies between him and the apathetic Wendy, while Ambrose’s harmless teasing of Genevieve (driving his equally unstable 1905 Spyker with the grand Rosalind) comes as handy and formulaic. During their short stay in Brighton, Alan and Wendy scrape in a crummy hotel room (Joyce Grenfell is the high point as the proprietress in a cameo appearance), and there is long-lasting jealousy simmering in Alan’s heart, since it is Ambrose, who introduced Wendy to him, he is quite sulky to see Wendy intimately dances with Ambrose, and is intrigued by Rosalind to know what exactly had happened between them before their 3-years-old marriage, especially once Wendy was Ambrose’s date in the annual rally. As expected, the topic turns sour quickly, on their way back to London, Alan and Ambrose have a wager on 100 pounds to be the first to reach Westminster Bridge.
So the second half is a comical contest, the two teams encounter malfunctions of the cars, patrol officers, road accidents, uninvited interlopers, even skullduggery and a strategic lie to buy their time. At the same time, the hiccup is soft-pedalled among the jovial hullabaloo, we never have another chance to know the history between Wendy and Ambrose. But in the very end, if a man is willing to give up his most treasured thing for a woman, she is the real winner.
The quartet performers are sterling and enjoyable, John Gregson brings about a touch of suaveness which reminiscent of James Stewart and Sheridan is a dexterous player exemplifies what a perfect wife should be, they are the immaculate pair on screen; More is outstanding in his carefree mannerism while Kendall neatly nails the face-contorting trumpet mimicking and it is not an easy piece of cake for trophy girlfriends.
GENEVIEVE is a light-hearted laughter-generator full of beans, its relatable skits encapsulate Britain’s national spirit and character with intuitive zest, at least for its native audience, it is the all-time guilty pleasure.