The Fast Lady
|The Fast Lady|
original film poster
|Directed by||Ken Annakin|
|Produced by||Leslie Parkyn|
|Written by||Henry Blyth|
Keble Howard (Original book)
James Robertson Justice
|Music by||Norrie Paramor|
|Cinematography||Reginald H. Wyer|
|Edited by||Ralph Sheldon|
|Distributed by||The Rank Organisation (UK)|
Continental Distributing (US)
|December 1962 (London West End)|
The film opened at the Odeon Marble Arch in London on December 1962.
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 sportscar 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, 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 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. Chingford so admires his driving skill that he allows 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.
Note: The 'Fast Lady', a 1927 Bentley 4.5-litre Red Label Speed model with Vanden Plas short chassis fabric body, registration number TU5987, still exists and was sold by a specialist dealer in 2010.
- 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
- 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
- The Times, December 1962, Page 2
- "Most Popular Films Of 1963." Times [London, England] 3 Jan. 1964: 4. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 July 2012.