Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Lucky Jim

Kingsley Amis's first novel was published in 1954. It was entitled Lucky Jim, and like the novel Patrick Campbell screenplay told of the exploits of one James Dixon, a reluctant history lecturer at an unnamed provincial English university. The novel tells about a contemporary young man and how he makes his way in life in a post war world that combines new and declining attitudes. But the Boulting Brothers film adaptation does not adequately deal with the subject of upward social mobility in the case of Jim Dixon, of a lower middle class character coming to terms with the upper class who refuse to recognise a person of equal intelligence but without the advantages of the British higher class system.

Amis's novel may have been written as a modern social comedy but as Lindsay Anderson opined about the film "the original comedy has been transformed into a conventional farce"[1]. He also noted that the characters had been flattened, simplified and vulgarized, and that the story had been wholly abstracted from reality and that Jim Dixon who can't do right for doing wrong (in the typical form of actor Ian Carmichael) had been stripped of all personality and turned into a farcical unprofessional figure: the college idiot. Similar to, what Lindsay calls the 'George Formby formula' including the speeded up car chase and getting the girl as his just reward as if life’s success can be judged by the quality of the women on your arm!
Jim Dixon with his reward for being a twit!!
Made at the MGM Studios at Boreham Wood, Lucky Jim (1957) is tad predictable and full of textbook upper class types who are so wet they stand in their own puddles. There is a certain humour although it mainly involves a large ugly dog that sings along to some dreadful chamber music. Thankfully the film was made on the eve of a revolution in British filmmaking that would help save us from such stupid daft films like this one.

[1] New Statesman 5th October 1957.

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