Gregory's Girl

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Gregory's Girl
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBill Forsyth
Written byBill Forsyth
Produced byClive Parsons
CinematographyMichael Coulter
Edited byJohn Gow
Music byColin Tully
Distributed by
Release date
  • 23 April 1981 (1981-04-23)
(after preview run at the 1980 London Film Festival)[1]
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget£200,000[2] or £189,000[3]
Box office£25,786,112 or $1 million[4]

Gregory's Girl is a 1980 Scottish coming-of-age romantic comedy film[5] written and directed by Bill Forsyth and starring John Gordon Sinclair, Dee Hepburn and Clare Grogan. The film is set in and around a state secondary school in the Abronhill district of Cumbernauld.

Gregory's Girl was ranked No. 30 in the British Film Institute's list of the top 100 British films of the 20th century, and No. 29 on Entertainment Weekly's 2015 list of the 50 best high school movies.[6]


Gregory Underwood is an awkward teenager who plays on his school football team. They are not doing very well, so the coach holds a trial to find new players. Dorothy shows up and, despite the coach's sexist misgivings, proves to be a very good player. She subsequently takes Gregory's place as centre forward, and Gregory in turn replaces his friend Andy as goalkeeper.

Gregory is all for her making the team, as he finds her very attractive. However, he has to compete for her attention with all the other boys who share the same opinion. Gregory initially confides in his best friend Steve, the most mature of Gregory's circle of friends, and asks him for help in attracting Dorothy. Steve, however, is unable to assist him.

Acting on the advice of his precocious 10-year-old sister Madeleine, he awkwardly asks Dorothy out on a date. She accepts, but Dorothy's friend, Carol, shows up at the rendezvous instead and informs Gregory that something had come up; Dorothy would not be able to make it. He is disappointed, but Carol talks him into taking her to the chip shop.

When they arrive, she hands him off to another friend, Margo, and leaves. By then, Gregory is rather confused, but goes for a walk with the new girl. On their stroll, they encounter a waiting Susan, another of Dorothy's friends, and Margo leaves. Susan confesses that it was all arranged by her friends, including Dorothy. She explains, "It's just the way girls work. They help each other."

They go to the park and talk. At the date's end, Gregory is more than pleased with Susan, and the two kiss numerous times on his doorstep before calling it a night and arranging a second date. Madeleine, who had been watching from the window, quizzes him on his date and calls him a liar when he claims he did not kiss Susan.

Gregory's friends, Andy and Charlie, are even more inept with girls but see Gregory at various times with three apparent dates, and are envious of his new success. They try to hitchhike to Caracas, where Andy has heard the women greatly outnumber the men, but fail at that as well.



Produced on a budget of £200,000 the film generated worldwide box office revenue of £25.8 million.[7] Many of the young actors were members of the Glasgow Youth Theatre, and had appeared in Forsyth's earlier film That Sinking Feeling (1979), including Robert Buchanan, Billy Greenlees, and John Gordon Sinclair. After casting, Hepburn was given six weeks of intense football training at Partick Thistle F.C.[7][8]

Filming of exterior scenes at Gregory's school took place at Abronhill High School.[9] As the film had a small budget, the actors supplied many of their own clothes; Hepburn's white shorts were borrowed from her sister. A person in a penguin costume is seen at various points in the film for no apparent reason. Inside the suit was Christopher Higson, son of production supervisor Paddy Higson.

The film was re-dubbed with rather anglicised Scottish accents for the original American theatrical release.[10][11] Both versions are available on the American DVD release from MGM Home Entertainment.

The film's cast reunited for the 30th anniversary of its release in 2010,[12] and a clip from the film featuring Hepburn was part of the opening ceremony at the London 2012 Summer Olympics.[13]


The film was released on 23 April 1981.[14] There was a charity premiere in Glasgow on 3 May 1981.[15] It was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 5 May 2014.[16]


Critical response[edit]

Film critic Roger Ebert liked the film's direction, and wrote "Bill Forsyth's Gregory's Girl is a charming, innocent, very funny little movie about the weird kid. ... The movie contains so much wisdom about being alive and teenage and vulnerable that maybe it would even be painful for a teenager to see it. ... Maybe only grown-ups should see this movie. You know, people who have gotten over the pains of unrequited love (hollow laugh)."[17] On Sneak Previews Ebert and Gene Siskel gave it two "yes" votes, with both critics praising the film's honest depiction of the awkwardness of adolescence.[18]

The staff at Variety liked the work of the young cast and Forsyth's direction, and wrote, "Filmmaker Bill Forsyth, whose friendly, unmalicious approach recalls that of René Clair, is concerned with young students (in particular, a soccer team goalie, Gregory) seeking out the opposite sex. ... As Gregory, John Gordon Sinclair is adept at physical comedy. Hepburn is properly enigmatic as the object of his desire, with ensemble approach giving Greg's precocious 10-year-old sister played by Allison Forster a key femme role."[19]

Critic Richard Skorman wrote, "Forsyth does a good job of making light of the tender part in [Gregory's] teenage psyche, and his friends and little sister in particular are quirky and lovable. Unlike the film's American counterparts, Gregory's Girl is refreshingly free of mean-spirited characters and horny young studs bemoaning their virginity."[20]

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 96% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on 23 reviews.[21]


In a retrospective appraisal of the film forty years after its release, Dr Jonny Murray, Senior Lecturer in Film and Visual Culture at Edinburgh College of Art, was quoted in The Scotsman as saying: "Gregory’s Girl is one of cinema’s true portrayals of the state of adolescence – a totally universal theme which only a few other filmmakers have been able to capture so brilliantly. Bill managed to capture not just what that looks like – but what that feels like."[14]




Gregory's Two Girls was released in 1999, with Sinclair reprising the role of Gregory, who by then was a 35-year-old teacher in his former secondary school. Reviewing the film for The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw said: "This quaint film is from the stable of Forsyth movies such as That Sinking Feeling and Local Hero, and disconcertingly out of its time... all Forsyth's films have charm, including this one. But, unfortunately, Gregory's Two Girls has the unhappy distinction of being an Accidental Period Piece."[22]

However, Time Out London's reviewer said "There's still comic mileage in Gordon-Sinclair's amiable fumbling Gregory... [A]ttention is directed towards wider, broadly political issues, but Forsyth's assured craftsmanship ensures that they are deftly woven into the storytelling. Gordon-Sinclair is a revelation, and although the film suffers from a lack of pace, its wealth of human insight and the premium it places on subtlety of expression make it a rare pleasure.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Luck, Richard (23 April 2021). "A Boy, A Girl And A Football". The New European. Archived from the original on 25 July 2021. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  2. ^ Norman, Barry. "Barry Norman's 101 greatest films: romance". Immediate Media Company. Archived from the original on 10 October 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
  3. ^ Chapman, J. (2022). The Money Behind the Screen: A History of British Film Finance, 1945-1985. Edinburgh University Press p 336
  4. ^ Donahue, Suzanne Mary (1987). American film distribution : the changing marketplace. UMI Research Press. p. 298. ISBN 9780835717762. Please note figures are for rentals in US and Canada
  5. ^ Ritchie, Maggie (7 February 2016). "Where are they now? Gregory's Girl actor John Gordon Sinclair". Daily Record. Glasgow. Archived from the original on 7 February 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  6. ^ "The 50 Best High School Movies". Entertainment Weekly ( 28 August 2015. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  7. ^ a b Robey, Tim (4 April 2021). "Gregory's Girl: the little British film that charmed the world". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  8. ^ "Dee Hepburn". Scottish Television. Archived from the original on 4 December 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  9. ^ McGinty, Stephen (18 November 2014). "Gregory's Girl fans mourn as school demolished". The Scotsman. Archived from the original on 24 June 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  10. ^ "From the archive, 7 August 1982: Gregory's Girl gets a new accent". The Guardian. 7 August 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  11. ^ Jenkins, Millie (23 October 2011). "'Trainspotting' made easy – for Americans". The Independent. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  12. ^ Graham, Jane (4 March 2010). "Gregory and his girls reunited in Glasgow". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  13. ^ Walker, Tim (29 July 2012). "Gregory's Girl goes for Olympic gold". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  14. ^ a b Campsie, Alison (23 April 2021). "Gregory's Girl: the sweet teenage love story set in Scottish new town turns 40". The Scotsman. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  15. ^ Plowright, Molly (1 May 1981). "Scottish story scores success for Forsyth". The Glasgow Herald. p. 6. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  16. ^ "Gregory's Girl Blu-ray".
  17. ^ Ebert, Roger (1 January 1981). "Gregory's Girl".
  18. ^ "Tron, The Secret of NIMH, The Devil's Playground, Gregory's Girl, 1982". Siskel & Ebert Movie Reviews. Retrieved 21 April 2023. Event occurs at 13:46-19:14.
  19. ^ "Review: 'Gregory's Girl'". Variety. 1 January 1982. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  20. ^ Skorman, Richard. Off-Hollywood Movies, film review of Gregory's Girl, page 162. New York: Harmony Books, 1989. ISBN 0-517-56863-2.
  21. ^ Gregory's Girl at Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 25 March 2008.
  22. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (15 October 1999). "Gregory's Two Girls". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  23. ^ "Gregory's Two Girls". Time Out London. 1999. Retrieved 25 July 2021.

External links[edit]