Genevieve (1953)

“You’ll be intoxicated by your own velocity.”

The London to Brighton Car Run is an antique car rally held annually since 1896. Cars must be pre-1905 to participate in the event–although a few exceptions are occasionally made. The film Genevieve is–in a sense–a homage both to the rally and to the cars that participate. Genevieve is the name of Alan McKim’s (John Gregson) 1904 car. He’s taken the car on the London to Brighton run ever since WWII (his father ran the car in the event every year prior to WWII). When the film begins, it’s the night before the run, and Alan is engaged in the last minute preparations on his car. Alan’s long-suffering wife, Wendy (Dinah Sheridan) really doesn’t want to go, but she’s a good sport, and used to the hardships and challenges of the event. The McKims’ friend, Ambrose Claverhouse (Kenneth More), the man responsible for introducing Wendy and Alan, is also participating with his car and a new girlfriend Rosalind (Kay Kendall).

Petty rivalries begin to emerge between Alan and Ambrose, and soon the two men begin to engage in niggling competitiveness. While the London to Brighton Run is not a race, Alan and Ambrose make it one–with a prize of one hundred pounds to the one who gets back to London first. Slight competitiveness slides into insults, bruised egos, and eventually they sink to cheating. It’s amusing to see these two men in their beautiful antique cars sink to the lowest possible tactics to win.

If you appreciate antique cars, then there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy Genevieve. It’s a good-natured film that allows a glimpse into a gentler, simpler age. Genevieve, a black 1904 Darracq with red leather interior, is beautiful–and there are a few close-ups of the car’s brass and leather. There are also some good shots of the British countryside and Brighton (The Royal Pavilion, the Pier, the Promenade, etc). From director Henry Cornelius

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