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Friday, 5 November 2010
Gregory’s Girl (1981)
Monday night saw actor Rab Buchanan return to the RBC Film Club following his visit in May when he introduced Bill Forsyth’s first feature film That Sinking Feeling (1980) this time he was there to introduce Forsyth’s second, and better known movie, the coming of age romantic comedy, Gregory’s Girl (1981). Where as That Sinking Feeling follows the misadventures of a group of bored, mainly unemployed, teenagers who one day hit upon the idea of robbing a warehouse containing hundreds of stainless steel sinks Gregory’s Girl is about the suffering involved in growing up. Shot mainly in Cumbernauld New Town the plot involves Gregory (John Gordon Sinclair) a gawky schoolboy who’s main concern in life is to earn the affection of the football teams new star striker Dorothy (Dee Hepburn) who has just replaced him in the first eleven with Gregory replacing his best mate Andy as goalkeeper, Andy was played by tonight’s guest of honour Rab Buchanan. Also involved in this high testosterone mix is Susan (Clare Grogan who at the time of the films release was in the 80’s pop band Altered Images) who actually fancies Gregory!
Rab Buchanan, a Glaswegian actor appeared in three films directed by Bill Forsyth, the two films I have already mentioned and Comfort and Joy (1984) Rab and the other young actors in Forsyth’s film came to the notice of the Scottish director via the former Glasgow Youth Theatre. Each of the young actors in tonight’s film had characters written for especially for them, which meant they were not playing out with their personal limits. Following the movie Rab took part in an entertaining question and answer session. He spoke about the tee shirt that Darren had presented to him at the previous meeting, also explained the meaning behind ‘the 12 tonnes of cornflakes per day on trucks going under the motorway footbridge’ scene telling us that this referred to his character in That Sinking Feeling who was always eating breakfast cereal. Rab told of the fun the young actors had working with the easy going Bill Forsyth and how they received a decent remuneration for their troubles. Explaining how the strong Scottish accents had to be dumbed down and revealing that if That Sinking Feeling had never have been made then the funding required for Gregory’s Girl would never have been available, already having made a plea for funding from the British Film Institute which had been turned down.
Following Robert Buchanan short film career he went on to work on TV and theatre until his son was born when he reverted to work backstage as a technician at the Tollbooth Theatre in Stirling. His legacy will always be tied up with Bill Forsyth and the two films shown at the RBC Film Club, both of which demonstrate Rab's comic genius and both reveal a certain charm for example the scene’s in Gregory’s Girl between Gregory and his sister Maddy, the horizontal dancing escapade and the kid in a penguin suit who waddles the school hallways for no apparent reason, but at the same time demonstrate a realism that involves ordinary people with normal lives who we’ve all probably met at one time or another. It’s a film that certainly stands the test of time with interesting and strong teen characters that are miles away from the normal youth stereotypes in Hollywood movies.