The Fast Lady
|The Fast Lady|
|Directed by||Ken Annakin|
|Written by||Henry Blyth|
Keble Howard (Original book)
|Produced by||Leslie Parkyn|
James Robertson Justice
|Cinematography||Reginald H. Wyer|
|Edited by||Ralph Sheldon|
|Music by||Norrie Paramor|
|Distributed by||The Rank Organisation (UK)|
Continental Distributing (US)
|December 1962 (London West End)|
The Fast Lady is a 1962 British comedy film, directed by Ken Annakin. The screenplay was written by Henry Blyth and Jack Davies, based on the 1925 novel of the same name by Keble Howard. Don Sharp directed second unit.
Murdoch Troon (Stanley Baxter) is a dour Scot living and working for a local government authority somewhere in south London. A shy young man, his main excitement comes from cycling. After he's forced off the road by an impatient car driver, he tracks down the owner, only to find that he is Commander Chingford (James Robertson Justice), the domineering and acerbic owner of a sports car distributorship.
Chingford reluctantly pays for the damage to Murdoch's cycle, but more significantly, Murdoch meets Claire (Julie Christie), Chingford's beautiful blonde daughter. He is smitten with her and, after she tells him she loves sports cars and would love to have one but "her great dictator" (meaning her father) won't allow it. Even though he can not drive, he is talked into buying a car to impress her by Murdoch's friend and fellow lodger, Freddie Fox (Leslie Phillips), a used car salesman and serial cad. Freddie sees a chance to ingratiate himself with Chingford and also to sell Murdoch a car. The car is a 1927 vintage Bentley 4½ Litre Red Label Speed model, painted in British Racing Green and named The Fast Lady.
Murdoch has his first driving lesson in a less exciting car, an Austin A40 Farina, which proves to be a comedy of disasters with a nervous instructor (Eric Barker). Freddie then makes a deal with Murdoch and offers to teach him, but the results are equally disastrous.
Unwilling to give up, and determined to prove his love for Claire, Murdoch bets her father that he can drive the car. An experienced racing driver, Chingford is convinced that Murdoch has no hope of achieving this — and bets him that he cannot. Murdoch takes Chingford for a drive in the Bentley and loses the bet. But the tables are turned when Chingford loses Murdoch's counter-bet that Chingford cannot drive back home in less than 30 minutes. He then reluctantly allows Claire to go out with Murdoch in the car.
The day comes for Murdoch's driving test. Freddie has set him up with a 'bent' examiner, but Murdoch draws the 'wrong' examiner. As the test comes to an end (and the examiner is almost certainly going to fail Murdoch), the car is commandeered by police to chase a Jaguar car driven by escaping bank robbers. The high speed chase takes them through town and country, across a golf course (leaving in its wake, a trail of disasters) and eventually the robbers are caught. The now furious examiner says that Murdoch not only fails but is "banned for life", but Chingford pooh-poohs this. Rather, he so admires Murdoch's driving skill that he will allow the couple to get engaged.
The film features cameos and performances by many well-known comedy and character actors, including Dick Emery as a car salesman, Clive Dunn, Gerald Campion, Frankie Howerd, Bernard Cribbins, Bill Fraser, 'Monsewer' Eddie Gray and Fred Emney. A racing sequence also features brief appearances by drivers John Surtees and Graham Hill, along with Raymond Baxter and celebrated automotive journalist John Bolster.
- James Robertson Justice as Charles Chingford
- Leslie Phillips as Freddie Fox
- Stanley Baxter as Murdoch Troon
- Kathleen Harrison as Mrs Staggers
- Julie Christie as Claire Chingford
- Eric Barker as Wentworth, driving instructor
- Oliver Johnston as Bulmer
- Allan Cuthbertson as Bodley, driving examiner
- Heidi Erich as Grunhilde, one of Freddie's girlfriends (at the beach)
- Esma Cannon as Lady on Zebra Crossing
- Dick Emery as Shingler
- Deryck Guyler as Doctor Blake
- Victor Brooks as Policeman
- Terence Alexander as Policeman on Motorcycle
- Trevor Reid as Examiner
- Frankie Howerd as Road Workman in Hole
- Bernard Cribbins as man on stretcher
- Clive Dunn as old man in burning house
It was one of the 12 most popular films at the British box office in 1963.
Variety wrote "A thin idea is pumped up into a reasonably brisk, amusing situation comedy, which is helped by a cast of experienced farceurs. In dialog, the pic is short on wit but there is enough slapstick fun."
- "The Fast Lady (1963)". British Film Institute.
- Who Was Who 1916-28. Lists Howard's works. Bloomsbury. 2014. ISBN 9781408193365.
- Vagg, Stephen (27 July 2019). "Unsung Aussie Filmmakers: Don Sharp – A Top 25". Filmink.
- Variety Staff (1 January 1963). "The Fast Lady".
- The Times, December 1962, Page 2
- "Father Came Too!".
- "Star of The Fast Lady film sells at collectables fair". The Daily Telegraph. 28 June 2010. Retrieved 8 March 2010.
- "Most Popular Films Of 1963." The Times [London, England] 3 Jan. 1964: 4. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 July 2012.
- "The Fast Lady". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 4 October 2020.