The Fast Lady (1963)

The Fast Lady (1963)
 
 

Vintage Comedy from Baxter and his Bentley

Say 'The Leith police dismisseth us' - Murdoch Troon

Stanley Baxter and Allan Cuthbertson in The Fast Lady (1963)

After being run off the road by Charles Chingford (James Robertson Justice), avid cyclist Murdoch Troon (Stanley Baxter) tracks down the arrogant driver to remonstrate with him over the damage he caused. But whilst making his point Murdoch meet's Chingford's daughter Claire (Julie Christie) and immediately they fall for each other. The trouble is Murdoch can't drive and Claire likes men who drive sports cars. Fortunately Murdoch's friend, ladies man and car salesman, Freddie Fox (Leslie Phillips), spots an opportunity and not only sells Murdoch 'The Flying lady', a green Vintage Bentley, but promises to teach him to drive. Well learning to drive is never easy especially for the nervy and accident prone Murdoch.

Leslie Phillips as a ladies man, James Robertson Justice as a bellowing tycoon and Stanley Baxter as an accident prone romantic, yes we are back in the early sixties and "The Fast Lady" an inoffensive British Comedy about love, mishap and a 1927 Vintage Bentley at the centre of it all, well a Bentley and a beautiful young woman played by Julie Christie. It is the sort of comedy farce you expect from a 60s British Comedy and it's all a bit twee but at the same time "The Fast Lady" is entertaining and that 1927 Vintage Bentley is beautiful as it features in many of the movie's better set pieces.

Leslie Phillips and Julie Christie in The Fast Lady (1963)

Now I am not being cruel but to say "The Fast Lady" is slim on storyline would not be an exaggeration as it revolves around Murdoch Troon basically learning to drive a Vintage Bentley which is not a car to learn in. Yes there is the sort of subplot of Charles Chingford's blustering objections to Murdoch and his daughter getting together, Freddie's nefarious ways and a robbery which Murdoch finds himself in the middle of all but none of it is important in what is essentially an easy going farce.

As such "The Fast Lady" is full of comedy, various set pieces which all build up to a car chase sequence which rivals the whacky races for preposterousness. But it works, from Troon's slightly nervy accident prone ways, Chingford calling him a blithering idiot through to Freddie trying to charm anything with a figure, it is full of laughs many of which are to say the least obvious. Many of the jokes are familiar and can be seen in any number of British comedies from the era but there are also some wonderful set pieces including an iconic one featuring a road maintenance man painting a white line down the middle of a road getting bumped from side to side by cars as they speed past.

Going along with the obvious comedy are the equally obvious but fun characters. As already mentioned Leslie Phillips once more plays a ladies man and slippery car salesman and whilst we've seen it all before you can't ignore the fact that Leslie Phillips is funny when he piles on the charm. The same can be said of James Robertson Justice who once more plays the bellowing, power character who doesn't suffer fools gladly. Add to this a young and beautiful Julie Christie as Claire his daughter and you have a solid trio who are perfect to highlight the comedy of Stanley Baxter as proud Scot Murdoch Troon. It may be obvious but between Baxter's exaggerated face pulling and accident prone ways he delivers plenty of laughs. What is also amusing is the number of recognizable faces which crop up in the background. Dick Emery, Deryck Guyler, Clive Dunn, Frankie Howerd and also Bernard Cribbins all have minor roles making it is as much fun spotting the stars in the background as it is watching all the farce going on upfront.

What this all boils down to is that "The Fast Lady" is a piece of old British farce with a weak storyline but plenty of laughs and amusing characters as well as a beautiful Vintage Bentley. It may all seem a little obvious with the likes of Leslie Phillips and James Robertson Justice delivering stereotypical performances but the slapstick from Stanley Baxter and a young Julie Christie makes it worth a watch, for old time's sake.

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