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Lucky Jim 1957
Description: Jim Dixon feels anything but lucky. At the university he has to do the bidding of absent-minded and boring Professor Welch to have any hope of keeping his job. Worse, he has managed to receive entangled with unexciting but neurotic Margaret Peel, a mate of the Professor's. All-in-all, the pub is the only friendly zone to be. His misery is finished at a dreadful weekend gathering of the Welch guild by the comeback of son Bertrand. Not so much that Betrand is loud-mouthed and boorish - which he is - but that he has as companion Christine Callaghan, the sort of marvellous and unattainable girl Jim can only dream about.
Released: 17 Sep 1957 Director: John Boulting Writers: Kingsley Amis (novel), Patrick Campbell (screenplay), Jeffrey Dell (additional scenes and dialogue) Actors: John Welsh, Ronald Cardew, Hugh Griffith, Kenneth Griffith Genres: Comedy
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Lucky Jim Reviews:

Fanatics of Kingsley Amis's brilliant novel might with justification hate this adaptation, but taken on its own terms, it is an enjoyable slice of 'fifties British comedy. While the novel's bite may have been lost, the movie's troubled production history (a several weeks into the filming, the original director, Ealing's Charles Crichton, was replaced) fails to present on the complete film.Ian Charmichael is at his greatest in this movie. The combination of a (realistic) Northern accent, plus a slightly harder edged characterisation, supports distance him from his usual 'silly ass' image. Perhaps he isn't the Dixon of the book, but it is a fair attempt. A first rate cast adds to the fun, in particular a tiny but perfectly formed cameo by Terry-Thomas steals the movie.The final chase is, as been noted, the movie's weakest url (it seems to come out of nowhere and does not fit in with the rest of the film) and is it fair from being the greatest Amiss adaptation (that honour belongs to the unbelievable 'Only Two Can Play'). But despite these flaws, it remains a watch able enough movie.


It's difficult for me to be objective about this film, as it is adapted from my favourite novel--which I've read eight or nine times. Also, I waited so long to see it that it may have been inevitable that I would ultimately be disappointed. Ironically, I first heard about the movie some years before I read the book, and it was only after I read the ebook that I made the connection between it and the description my brother had once given me. It would be about 20 years (no kidding!) before I finally saw the movie myself. I've actually seen it twice and mostly hated it both times.Kingsley Amis's LUCKY JIM was obligatory reading among history students when I was in grad school 30 years ago. The storyline about an unhappy history instructor in a crummy British provincial university expressed a lot of the angst that we felt as grad students, and it was funnier than heck as well. I loved the ebook then, and still love all these years later. Why, then, was the movie such a disappointment? Mainly because the script muted much of the savageness of Amis's humor, and because it tacked on an idiotic chase stage at the end that has nothing whatever to do with the original story--or even with what goes before it in the film. (Even Ian Carmichael--who played Jim--hated that ending. He said me that the folks making the movie didn't seem to have any concept of what they were doing--and it shows.)The producers also added a very unsatisfactory and irrelevant academic procession in them middle of the film--evidently for the sole purpose of making Carmichael look like a klutz by having him tripping over flowerpots and dropping things in the middle of the solemn affair.Nevertheless, the movie does have its virtues, chief among them is perfect casting. Ian Carmichael was born to enjoy Jim. Terry-Thomas was properly unctuous as Bertrand; Hugh Griffith certainly looked the part as Professor Neddy; Maureen Connell looked like I imagined the neurotic Margaret Peel; and Sharon Acker made a fine-looking Christine Callaghan.


This is an outstanding film whose meticulously-crafted set pieces frequently had me in stitches. Superbly cast, Ian Carmichael, Hugh Griffiths and Terry-Thomas were in exceptional form, and the luminous beauty of Sharon Acker lights up the film. If you don't search this funny, charming and uplifting, all I can tell is that I feel sorry for you! The pompous, stiff and class-deferential era of the 1950s is marvellously evoked in this movie. Everytime the sign of a classic, even the minor characters - Mrs Welch, the taxi driver, the waiter and the university porter, for instance - all keep their own and come across as true people. The appalling persona of Bertrand Welch (Terry-Thomas) with his self-obsessed sense of his own importance is excellently drawn. One to see and quite possibly one to keep.



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