Unlucky & Unfunny Jim
The Boulting Brothers made some great movies but when it comes to "Lucky Jim" they ended up making a disappointing one especially for fans of Kingsley Amis' novel from which it is adapted. Now I haven't read Amis' novel but I am still disappointed because "Lucky Jim" feels like a by the book 50's comedy where it becomes like a collection of farcical scenes rather than an amusing story. It also suffers from miscasting such as Terry-Thomas cast as a pretentious academic as well as Ian Carmichael being much older than the character he is playing. But whilst disappointing "Lucky Jim" is not terrible, just dull for being so ordinary.
With a need to secure a job as a history teacher Jim Dixon (Ian Carmichael) is continually forced to do what ever the absent-minded Professor Welch (Hugh Griffith) tells him to do, which is often the most menial of jobs. Jim's life is no better away from the University lecture halls as he finds himself getting unwanted attention from Margaret Peel (Maureen Connell). When Jim thinks he is being invited to the Professor's house for the weekend to work on a lecture he soon discovers it is anything but as Mrs. Welch treats him like a lackey and their pretentious son Bertrand (Terry-Thomas) continually looks down his nose at him. The only good thing is Bertrand brings his attractive girlfriend Christine (Sharon Acker) with him and Jim becomes smitten with her.
So I have never read Kingsley Amis' popular novel but I can presume that a lot of depth is lost in the adaptation resulting in an ordinary 50s comedy. I say ordinary because it can be summed up as the put upon and accident prone Jim eventually gets his own back on the academic snobs and gets the girl. There is nothing wrong with that from an entertainment point of view except it is extremely predictable and comes across as a series of humorous scenes from a drunk Jim wrecking a musical bottle to some slapstick involving a flower display. The trouble is that it all lacks depth and the storyline becomes completely irrelevant as you can presume long before it ends that Jim will end up basically winning.
The lack of depth is not the only issue and "Lucky Jim" features some poor casting starting with Terry-Thomas as Bertrand Welch. Now Terry-Thomas was always great as the bounder and cad with an eye for a pretty woman but as a pretentious young academic he is just wrong and is incredibly stiff. Then there is Ian Carmichael as Jim who to differentiate himself from the academic elite gives Jim an inconsistent Northern accent but delivers the typical accident prone brand of Carmichael comedy. That in itself is not so bad but the fact that Carmichael was much older than his character was you are forced to forget that Jim is a junior teacher trying to gain a permanent position.
The rest of the casting is not bad, Sharon Acker as Christine delivers what her character calls for which is mainly to be attractive and friendly but has some entertaining scenes. And the wild eyed Hugh Griffith is perfect as Professor Welch and delivers not only his absent minded nature but also his condescending ways. Although you have to laugh when you consider that Hugh Griffith is cast as Terry-Thomas' dad when in truth Terry-Thomas was almost a year older than Griffith.
What this all boils down to is that for me "Lucky Jim" is dull because it is such an ordinary 50's comedy which almost ignores the storyline in favour of some stereotypical farce. It isn't terrible but if you are a fan of 50s comedies it will be too ordinary to be memorable.