REMEMBERING GEORGE FORMBY
REMEMBERING GEORGE FORMBY
This first offering is a great tribute to one of the United Kingdoms most beloved entertainers. At one time George Formby was one of the highest paid entertainers in the United Kingdom. Formby endeared himself to his audiences with his cheeky Lancashire humor and folksy north of England persona. In film and on stage, he generally adopted the character of an honest, good-hearted but accident-prone innocent who used the phrases: "It's turned out nice again!" as an opening line; "Ooh, mother!" when escaping from trouble; and a timid "Never touched me!" after losing a fistfight.
What made him stand out, however, was his unique and often mimicked musical style. He sang comic songs, full of double entendre, to his own accompaniment on the banjolele, for which he developed a catchy musical syncopated style that became his trademark. Some of his best-known songs were written by Noel Gay. Some of his songs were considered too rude for broadcasting. His 1937 song, "With my little stick of Blackpool Rock" was banned by the BBC because of the lyrics. Formby's cheerful, innocent demeanor and nasal, high-pitched Lancashire accent neutralized the shock value of the lyrics; a more aggressive comedian like Max Miller would have delivered the same lyrics with a bawdy leer.
LET GEORGE DO IT
Let George Do It is one of the best and most successful of the George Formby vehicles. The toothy, guitar-strumming Formby plays a dimwitted entertainer who is mistaken for a notorious Nazi spy. The misunderstanding is played to the hilt, culminating with our hero battling the forces of the Axis on the fields of Norway. The film's highlight is a bakery routine which dates back to Charlie Chaplin's 1914 epic Dough and Dynamite. Let George Do It was distinguished by the leading-lady presence of Phyllis Calvert, just on the verge of bigger things
COME ON GEORGE
British Writer/director Anthony Kimmins was willing to expand his range from drawing room comedy to the "low" humors of the provincial music halls. Kimmins' Come on George is an unadorned vehicle for toothy, ukelele-strumming North Country comedian George Formby. Formby plays a somewhat overage stableboy who is the only person able to calm a jittery race horse. In the foregone conclusion, Formby rides the horse to victory. Come on George was a product of George Formby's peak movie years; after the war he suffered a professional eclipse and was back making the cheap programmers (vide George in Civvy Street) whence he had started his cinematic career.