Friday November 1, 2019
As the London – Brighton Veteran Car Run 2019 takes place this Sunday - https://www.veterancarrun.com/ - we are proud to present (cue Tim Turner-style jolly voiceover), a tribute to one of Britain’s greatest films; Genevieve -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyWQAYot9Hc
1) Genevieve herself was known as “Annie” before her screen stardom and is a 1904 Darracq 10/12 hp Type O Roadster. Just seven years before the film commenced production, she was languishing in an East London scrapyard.
2) The rival car is a Spyker 14/18 hp “Roi des Belges” Open Tourer and, together with its co-star, now lives in the Louwman Museum - https://www.louwmanmuseum.nl/
3) Filming began in October 1952 with a line-up of 35 veteran cars assembled in Hyde Park.
4) The support vehicles are almost as memorable as the automotive stars; the newsreel cameraman uses a 1939 Ford V8 “Woodie” Station Wagon, and the rival veteran car enthusiasts also encounter an Austin A70 Hereford, a Consul Mk. I, a 1947 Hillman Minx Drophead and a pre-war Morris Minor.
5) Allard provided much assistance to the production and even modified the cockpit of their red 1946 K1 to accommodate the actor Reginald Beckwith. This fine machine is now believed to reside in the USA.
6) The film was originally meant to star Dirk Bogarde, Claire Bloom and Guy Middleton.
7) The initial plan was to have our hero Alan McKim drive a Humber or Wolseley, with a Lancaster for the mildly caddish Ambrose Claverhouse.
8) London trams had ceased running several months before shooting commenced and the lines had already been removed from Westminster Bridge, which explains the strange geography for the scene of the Spyker’s wheels becoming caught in the track; the close-ups had to be shot in Lewisham.
9) Kenneth More apparently had few problems when driving the Spyker, but John Gregson was a novice driver at the time of filming. Much of the time the Darracq was placed on a “Queen Mary” trailer or the actor was doubled by the veteran car enthusiast Charlie Cadby. However, early in the picture, Gregson did have to take the wheel, and he does look very nervous when heading towards The Strand.
10) Of the other cast members, older readers will recognise Leslie Mitchell, the famous Movietone News commentator and Michael Medwin as the expectant father; the latter is still with us at the age of 96. Geffrey Keen is the older of the two motorcycle officers, and the irate small girl on the zebra crossing was the daughter of Henry Cornelius, the picture’s director. The jazz band’s trumpet player is Michael Balfour, then a ubiquitous presence in British B-films, and there is also a cameo from the equally recognisable Fred Griffiths as an ice cream man.
11) In terms of locations, the McKims reside at Rutland Mews South, the Ford in which they become stranded is at Hawksmoor Lane, only a few miles from Pinewood Studios. The Allard/Darracq collision occurs at Moor Lane near Uxbridge. The main characters also visit The Jolly Woodsman https://thejollywoodman.com/ near Slough and stop for ice cream outside of the De Burgh Arms in West Drayton https://www.facebook.com/deburgharmswestdrayton/
12) Cornelius was given the chance to purchase Genevieve for £450 at the end of filming but he lacked the necessary £sd.