Monday, 20 January 2014

The Lovers (1973)

Another classic from Jack Rosenthal, The Lovers started out as a fondly received ITV Granada sitcom that ran for two series from 1970-'71, before being 'spun off' for a big screen cinematic version in 1973.

The film is a 'real' Manchester movie, and across the near 90 minute duration you can have a lot of fun spotting the streets and sights that have changed, and equally have not changed, if you're familiar with that city. Plus there's great footage of Man Utd featuring the likes of Best and Charlton in their heyday - as well as the former's boutique on Bridge Street being featured as the place where the girls hang out, eager to get a glimpse of the man himself during their lunchtime. It's a film which beautifully captures the city at a specific era in time and is a must for (Northern) nostalgia fans.

It's a really sweet movie that still has some relevance I imagine in depicting a young couple's first and occasionally faltering steps in forming a relationship. There's still a few laugh out loud moments and plenty of smiles, as befits Rosenthal's wonderful wit and great ear for natural dialogue and dry Northern humour. 

Away from Rosenthal's script, the film (and indeed the show) was equally blessed however with its leads, the brilliant Richard Beckinsale and Paula Wilcox. Both are assured comedy performers, but perhaps less acknowledged is the fact they are great actors - making it so easy for the audience to relate to their characters Geoffrey and Beryl. This, armed with their natural and believable chemistry with one another makes for a very entertaining experience as Geoffrey, the 'Percy Filth' wanting, Bardot lusting would be hipster (waiting and wondering if the permissive society will ever reach Manchester, he broadens his horizons with Ken Russell films and an array of deliberately clunky  hippie speech like 'cat', 'dig' and 'baby' which he thinks may impress but never do) who can't truly hide his ordinary working class and all round nice guy roots and tries to woo and win Beryl, the slightly daffy but quite adorable and more chaste girl who believes love should only inevitably lead to a fairytale marriage.

 Both actors went on to even bigger things, Wilcox - still working today - would earn greater success in the 70s sitcom Man About The House, which would also gain a big screen spin off (and which, perhaps oddly I always rather fancied her a teensy bit more in than Sally Thomsett, who was perceived as the pretty one - much like the blonde one off Abba was supposedly always the preferred one to the brunette) and Beckinsale would score hits with Rising Damp and Porridge before his all too premature and tragic death aged just 31 in 1979 from a heart attack.
(And I tell you, you don't half feel old when you realise you're now older than he was when he died)

I'd add this to that short list of sitcom spin offs that include Porridge and The Likely Lads that actually worked as a big screen venture. The Lovers from Rosenthal's pen and Herbert Wise's direction feels so real and warm for it that it occasionally echoes something of the kitchen sink era of films from the previous decade. It even has a rather catchy theme tune from Northern crooner Tony Christie entitled Love and Rainy Weather

In short, it's another nicely restored classic from Network DVD.


  1. There were a few films around then that just caught the brightness and optimistic air of the mid-sixties to mid-seventies, and lands it squarely in the contemporary landscape. 'Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush' springs to mind...

    1. Absolutely Mac, Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush is a good bedfellow for this given that air of first love and the same optimistic air as you say. Mulberry Bush in particular captures Stevenage at its Utopian new town intention before it swiftly descended to the sh*t hole it is now. Had an ex who lived down there and I'm afraid to say its one of the bleakest places I've ever set foot in. No offence to anyone, but they have my sympathy!
      Thanks for stopping by Mac, always good to see a comment from you.

  2. Pleasure's all mine. Always an intelligent and thoroughly engaging page... :)

  3. I always thought Paula Wilcox was more attractive than Sally Thomsett too. Sally is certainly pretty, but with those gorgeous eyes and twinkly smile Paula was more striking.

    1. Thank you! Don't get me wrong I agree, I think Thomsett is very pretty but I dunno maybe I go for the less obvious, and Paula is perhaps a better actor which helped her stand out more.