Lucky Jim (1957 film)

Lucky Jim is a 1957 British comedy film directed by John Boulting and starring Ian Carmichael, Terry-Thomas and Hugh Griffith.[1] It is an adaptation of the 1954 novel Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis.[2]

Lucky Jim
Original British quad format film poster
Directed byJohn Boulting
Produced byRoy Boulting
Screenplay byPatrick Campbell
Based onLucky Jim
by Kingsley Amis
StarringIan Carmichael
Hugh Griffith
Music byJohn Addison
CinematographyMutz Greenbaum
Edited byMax Benedict
Distributed byBritish Lion Films (UK)
Kingsley-International Pictures (US)
Release date
  • 17 September 1957 (1957-09-17) (UK)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom


Jim Dixon is a young lecturer in history at a redbrick university, who manages to offend his head of department and create various disastrous incidents. When he eventually delivers a lecture drunk, he feels forced to resign. But just as his career seems over, he is offered a job in London, and when he learns that the girl of his dreams is on her way to the railway station, he chases after her in the professor's old car. The professor's whole family chases after, and arrives at the station just in time to see Jim and the girl disappear on the train to London.

Main cast


The film critic writing for The Times, gave the film a mixed review after the UK premiere in September 1957, stating that the film, "carries over enough gusto from the original to be funnier than the usual run of British comedies, without managing to avoid lapses into incoherence through pressing the Joke too far."[3]

When the film premiered in the USA a year later, Howard Thompson of The New York Times wasn't very impressed and called Ian Carmichael "an English answer to Jerry Lewis": "Let's fervently hope this stale attempt at mirth, furiously sliding back and forth from leaden coyness to plain custard-pie confusion, doesn't mean the end of all the sly, civilized fun we've come to expect from the British specialists."[4]

In its 2010 obituary over Ian Carmichael, The Guardian wrote: "One of his most characteristic and memorable sorties... was his portrayal of Kingsley Amis's Lucky Jim—the anti-hero James Dixon, who savaged the pretensions of academia, as Amis had himself sometimes clashed with academia when he was a lecturer at Swansea. Appearing in John and Roy Boulting's 1957 film, he was able to suggest an unruly but amiable spirit at the end of its tether, his great horsey teeth exposed in the strained grimace that often greeted disaster."[5]


The film's end titles credit "the voice of Al Fernhead" with singing the distinctive repeated "O Lucky Jim" phrase, from the eponymous song whose composers are credited as Fred V. Bowers and Charles Horwitz. The Bowers–Horwitz song "Ah, lucky Jim" inspired the book's title.[6]


  1. "Lucky Jim (1957)". BFI.
  2. "BFI Screenonline: Lucky Jim (1957)".
  3. The Times, 30 September 1957, page 3 - read via The Times Digital Archive on 21/08/2013
  4. New York Times, 1 September 1958: 'Lucky Jim'; Comedy From Britain Opens at Paris Linked 2013-08-21
  5. Barker, Dennis (6 February 2010). "Guardian obituary". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 25 November 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  6. Paul Schlueter, "Academic Humor", in Maurice Charney, Comedy: A Geographic and Historical Guide, vol. 1 (Westport, Conn: Praeger, 2005), p. 14.
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